February 8, 2013

Boys' Basketball Notebook: All signs point to a York-Falmouth showdown

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The upcoming Western Class B tournament just got a lot closer, at least at the top.

Labson Abwoch

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Labson Abwoch, Deering: Abwoch had a couple of 20-point games in a week's span. A week ago he scored 21 points and had 12 rebounds as Deering beat Gorham, 66-48. On Tuesday, Abwoch scored 23 points in a 64-52 win over Cheverus.

HONORABLE MENTION

Spencer Hodge, Windham: Hodge scored 15 points in a 58-44 win over Gorham to avenge an earlier loss to the Rams and scored a game-high 19 points as the Eagles scored their biggest win of the season -- a 52-40 victory against Westbrook last week.

Dustin Cole, Bonny Eagle: Cole scored 36 points as the Scots avenged an earlier loss to Westbrook with a 61-50 win Tuesday. Last week against Scarborough, Cole had 26 points as the Scots pulled out a 59-58 overtime win.

Jaren Muller, South Portland: Muller, a 6-foot-5 forward, had a game-high 14 points and some key rebounds to lead the Red Riots to a 52-42 win over Portland on Tuesday, Muller scored a three-point play late in the game to seal it.

AREA TOP 10

1. South Portland

2. York

3. Falmouth

4. Portland

5. Bonny Eagle

6. Deering

7. Westbrook

8. Scarborough

9. Brunswick

10. Medomak Valley

No. 2 York handed No. 1 Falmouth a 65-39 thumping on Tuesday. Falmouth had won its first 16 games, including a 71-51 triumph over the Wildcats on Jan. 3. They've both won on their home courts. What will happen should they meet for the regional championship at the neutral Cumberland County Civic Center?

Everything York did wrong in the first game with Falmouth, the Wildcats did right the second time and, conversely, everything Falmouth did right in the first game, it did wrong.

York was searching for its identity at the start of the year. The Wildcats were 6-0 when they first faced Falmouth. It was their first big game of the season. It was away and their nerves took over.

It was a lesson the Wildcats learned well. They haven't lost since. The win over Falmouth was their 10th straight. They've committed to defense. Coach Randy Small is a big believer in the philosophy that you play the way you practice, and the Wildcats practice hard.

"This is a tremendous practice team," he said. "Our practices are very physical. The kids have worked hard in practice."

With their dismantling of the Yachtsmen, the Wildcats showed they're a tremendous game team, too.

"We're executing our offense better and all five guys on the floor are contributing on defense. It isn't just one player. It's everyone," said Small.

York and Falmouth are comparable in size. They have a huge advantage over their Western Maine Conference opponents. Still, Small is cautious when it's suggested it will be those two teams in the tournament final.

"A lot of other teams have improved," said Small.

"Cape Elizabeth and Yarmouth are two of them. Wells can put a lot of points on the board with Jake Moody and Dylan Stevens. Greely is still scary. These are high school kids. You never know what will happen in the tournament," he said.

York center Aaron Todd scored 23 points against Falmouth with 10 coming in the first quarter when the Wildcats jumped out to a 22-9 lead. An 18-7 York edge in the third quarter put the game away.

York's win closed the gap in the Heal point standings, but Falmouth will still enter the tournament No. 1 with the Wildcats at No. 2, setting up a greatly anticipated rubber game in the regional final should the seeds hold true.

Hayden Webster and Zach Leal added 14 points apiece for York. Leal has been strong all season. Webster makes it that much tougher to guard the Wildcats when he's playing well.

"Hayden had a good game," said Small. "He has a tremendous mid-range shot."

The small York gym was packed for the game. Small said it was the first time York sold tickets in advance for a regular-season game.

"It was good for the program and good for the town," he said.

Despite the outcome, Falmouth Coach Dave Halligan looked for a positive spin.

"It was like a tourney atmosphere," said Halligan. "Our kids don't have a lot of tourney experience. I think they learned a lot. Hopefully we can adjust."

The Yachtsmen shot only 4 of 24 from 3-point range and 5 of 15 from the line.

"York played extremely well," said Halligan.

Like Small, Halligan isn't ready to predict a third meeting in the regional final Feb. 23.

(Continued on page 2)

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