FALMOUTH — Falmouth High point guard Grant Burfeind has a simple remedy for those who have difficulty spelling his last name.
“I tell my friends i before e except in Burfeind. That helps them out,” he said.
Opponents can only wish they had as effective a method for slowing Burfeind.
Burfeind will be setting the offensive tempo and looking to score when Falmouth (20-1) plays Medomak Valley (19-2) for the Class B state title Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Burfeind is well-prepared. Players in the Falmouth system often have to wait because of the talent in the upper grades. Burfeind became a starter this season after playing behind Matt Packard a year ago.
“Matt is a really good player,” said Burfeind. “Being able to play against him in practice really helped me.”
Of the starters, Burfeind, Jack Simonds and Charlie Fay saw the most action last year on a team that lost in the Western Maine final to Yarmouth. Tom Wilberg, another starter, also saw some action.
Going against last year’s team in practice prepared them well for this season.
“We knew in preseason we would be a team to be reckoned with. After we won a few games, people started talking about us,” Burfeind said.
Falmouth won its first 16 games before losing by 26 points at York on Feb. 5.
The Yachtsmen had beaten York by 20 points earlier in the season.
Falmouth won the third meeting last Saturday, 67-46 for the regional title. Burfeind scored 17 points.
Burfeind’s quickness allowed him to penetrate the York defense and get to the rim. The Wildcats’ defense had to collapse, which enabled him to pass off to his teammates for baskets.
Wanting to prove that their loss was an aberration, the Yachtsmen appeared to have a little more bounce in their step when they hit the floor.
“We were embarrassed by that loss,” said Burfeind. “We had a lot to prove.”
Now the team seeks a Gold Ball to put alongside the one captured by the 2010 team, led by Stefano Mancini.
A freshman that season, Burfeind sat in the stands at the Bangor Auditorium and watched Falmouth defeat Camden Hills in overtime for the title.
“That was awesome,” said Burfeind.
Burfeind played on the junior varsity team his freshman year. The junior varsity would scrimmage the varsity in practice, so Burfeind got to play against Mancini and the rest of that talented team.
That was a first step in his development as a player.
“That team had something special and we have something special,” said Burfeind.
Coach Dave Halligan doesn’t have to worry about Burfeind having plenty of energy in games.
“I like to be active,” said Burfeind.
Burfeind has been on three Class B state championship soccer teams, playing for Halligan. He scored the winning goal in the state final his junior year.
“Grant has the knack for making the big play,” said Halligan. “He plays his best in the toughest games. Grant did it in soccer, and now in basketball.”
Burfeind went out for track last spring for the first time, opting for the sprints and long jump. It wasn’t long before he was reaching 20 feet in the long jump, and he was on the winning 400-meter relay team at the Class B state meet.
“I guess I got my quickness from my parents,” said Burfeind. My mother was a top-level amateur tennis player, and my dad played basketball and ran track.”
Before the season, Halligan takes his team to the town’s elementary school, where they talk to the kids, hand out schedules and invite them to the high school games.
Burfeind remembers those team visits when he was in elementary school.
“Bryant Barr and Darren Mastropaolo came to our class one day,” said Burfeind of two players who went on to NCAA Division I basketball programs — Barr at Davidson, Mastropaolo at Bucknell. “I thought they were gods.”
Now Burfeind and his teammates are having the same effect on the town’s youth.
“Grant is the type of player every team needs to be successful,” said Fay. “He controls the tempo and sets up all the plays. He gets us going. We’ve played other sports together growing up, but basketball has been the one we’ve played together the longest.”
“Grant and Charlie grew up as next-door neighbors,” said David Burfeind, Grant’s father.
“They would play driveway basketball for hours at a time. They’d come in sweaty, dirty, bloody and with huge smiles on their faces.
“They’d be right back at it the next day.”
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: