Last year, the Falmouth boys’ basketball team sat dejected in its locker room, eliminated from the Western Class B tournament with a 20-1 record after losing to Yarmouth in the regional final.
After beating York for the regional title on Feb. 23, the Yachtsmen had the same record as a year ago.
Reflecting on the irony, Coach Dave Halligan asked his team: “Which feels better?”
Friday night, the Yachtsmen completed their magical season with a 62-39 win over Medomak Valley for the state championship at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The only loss this season was a surprisingly one-sided 65-39 defeat against York on Feb. 5, after the Yachtsmen beat their first 16 opponents by an average margin of more than 30 points.
Falmouth rebounded quickly from the loss. In four tournament games, the Yachtsmen held opponents to an average of 34.2 points and won them all by more than 20.
“We played our best basketball in the tournament, particularly on defense,” said senior Tom Wilberg, who scored 15 points in the state final.
“Coming off the loss to York really motivated us to succeed.”
Falmouth captured its second Gold Ball in four seasons. A strong youth basketball program and travel teams help keep Falmouth stocked with talented players.
In 26 years of coaching, Halligan’s teams have only missed qualifying for the postseason once. That was in 2010-11, when the Yachtsmen just missed making it because of a couple overtime losses at the end of the regular season.
“This group has seen it all,” said Halligan of the six seniors. “As freshmen, they were in the stands when we beat Camden Hills for the state championship.”
The next year, the Yachtsmen didn’t make the tournament, and last year they reached the regional final.
Grant Burfeind, the senior point guard, was on the JV team as a freshman and played against the 2010 championship team in practice.
Falmouth’s success has been aided by several multi-sport athletes who have won multiple championships. In the last 12 months, Falmouth boys’ teams have won state titles in basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, outdoor track, tennis and skiing.
“When you get a combination of core basketball players with other players who play several sports, it makes for a strong combination,” said Halligan.
Next season, Falmouth will move to Class A in basketball because of its enrollment. With returning starters Jack Simonds and Justin Rogers and sixth man Tom Coyne, the Yachtsmen are well-equipped to handle the move.
Simonds showed his big-game ability with 19 points in the regional final and 21 in the state final. Against Medomak, he made 10 of 12 shots.
Falmouth will also return guard-forward Nick Burton and guards Matt Tseng, Fred Stucker and Luke Velas. In addition, Coyne’s brother, Colin, also a hot-shooting guard, will be a freshman. The JV team, coached by Jamie Hilton, had another strong season.
Falmouth will honor its boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at the annual banquet on Thursday.
“We’ll talk about each player and mention who made the league all-stars,” said Halligan.
In addition to his nine soccer state titles at the school, Halligan has coached Falmouth to five state titles in basketball — two in Class B and three in Class C.
Asked how much longer he will coach, Halligan said: “As long as it’s still fun. I evaluate after each year.”
The fun part was certainly met this winter.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: