Freeport 45 Yarmouth 41

F- 10 16 4 15- 45
Y- 13 5 16 7- 41

F- Holt 6-6-18, Shea 2-4-8, Barrett 1-2-4, S. Wagner 1-4-6, Thomas 2-0-4, G. Wagner 1-0-3, Arsneault 0-2-2

Y- Torres 6-5-21, Haywood 2-2-6, Hickey 2-1-6, Eckersley-Ray 2-0-4, Rogers 1-2-4

F (1) G. Wagner
Y (5) Torres 4, Hickey 1

F- 18
Y- 23

Free throws
F: 18-24
Y: 10-16

YARMOUTH—After 10 years and 18 futile attempts at beating its neighbor and rival, Freeport’s boys’ basketball team wasn’t about to be deterred by staring at a seven-point deficit with 107 seconds to play Tuesday evening at Yarmouth.

That’s because after becoming a winning team a year ago, the Falcons have instilled a belief that they’ll find a way to come out on top.

And somehow, improbably, that’s exactly what happened.

After a first quarter of runs which saw the Clippers score the first five points, Freeport get the next seven and Yarmouth produce the final three on a 3-pointer from senior Jonny Torres for a 13-10 lead, the Falcons dominated the second period, 16-5, and took a 26-18 advantage to halftime, thanks in large part to 10 points from senior Toby Holt.

Yarmouth then completely turned things around in the third quarter, as Torres scored seven points, including a late 3, and when junior Aidan Hickey added a 3-pointer, the Clippers had a 34-30 advantage with eight minutes left.

Two free throws from senior Ashanti Haywood put Yarmouth up, 41-34, with 2:37 to go, but the hosts couldn’t close it out.

Freeport started its comeback on a putback from senior Shea Wagner with 1:47 remaining, then got two free throws from Holt and two more from Wagner.

With 27.7 seconds on the clock, two Holt foul shots gave the Falcons the lead for good.

After a free throw from senior Caleb Arsenault, the Clippers had a chance to tie or go on top, but they turned the ball and two more Wagner free throws made it official and Freeport prevailed, 45-41.

Holt led the way with 18 points as the Falcons improved to 2-0, dropped Yarmouth, which got a game-high 21 points from Torres, to 0-2, and in the process, beat the Clippers for the first time since 2008.

“It’s fun,” Holt said. “It feels great to win. We knew this was probably going to be our best year, so we want to make it one to remember.”


Both Freeport and Yarmouth are hopeful of dethroning Wells as Class B South champion this winter.

The Falcons are coming off their best season in a decade, one which didn’t end until the Class B South quarterfinals and a loss to Wells, which left them 11-9. Freeport returns a lot of talent and got off to a fast start Friday with a 65-27 win at Sacopee Valley.

Yarmouth reached the semifinals last season before losing to Cape Elizabeth. Following the season, Adam Smith stepped down as coach and has been replaced by Jonas Allen, who spent several years coaching at Bates College. He takes over a squad that could wind up very formidable by February. The Clippers started with a 70-39 home loss to York.

Yarmouth entered Tuesday’s game on a 18-game win streak in the series (see sidebar, below).

Freeport was seeking its first win over Yarmouth since a 67-60 upset in the 2008 Western B semifinals, its first in the regular season since a 55-52 triumph Feb. 10, 2006 at home and its first in Yarmouth since Dec. 20, 2005 (57-39).

For much of the night, it looked like business as usual and that the Clippers would stymie the Falcons again, but with the game on the line, Freeport did what it took to finally break through.

Yarmouth got off to a fast start, as senior Noah Eckersley-Ray scored on a putback, senior Jake Rogers banked home a shot and Hickey made a free throw, but the next seven points went to Freeport, as Holt finished a pass from Wagner to get his team on the board, Holt made a bank shot and senior Kaleb Barrett converted an old-fashioned three-point play, hitting a leaner while being fouled before sinking the and-one free throw.

Torres’ first 3-ball put the Clippers back ahead and Eckersley-Ray made a short jumper, but Arsenault sank a free throw and sophomore Elias Thomas scored on a putback to tie it.

With 4.4 seconds on the clock, Torres made another 3 and Yarmouth held a 13-10 advantage after eight minutes.

The Falcons then settled in and opened up a seemingly comfortable lead by the half.

After a Thomas putback was countered by two Rogers free throws, Freeport senior Eriksen Shea scored his first basket, a jump shot, and Holt followed with a three-point play for a 17-15 lead.

A Torres 3-ball put the Clippers back in the lead, but that would be the hosts’ final points of the half.

Holt tied the game with a free throw, junior Gabe Wagner set up Shea for a layup, Barrett stole the ball and passed to Holt for a layup and after Gabe Wagner sank a 3, Barrett’s free throw in the final second made it 26-18 Falcons.

In the first half, Holt led all scorers with 10 points and Freeport forced 13 turnovers.

The second half began inauspiciously for Yarmouth, as Rogers picked up his fourth foul, but Torres put the Clippers on his back and sparked a comeback.

After being fouled while shooting a 3-pointer, Torres sank two of the ensuing three free throws. After Haywood got a floater to rattle home, Torres scored on a putback, then Torres set up Haywood for a long jumper which tied it, 26-26.

With 3:23 to play in the third period, a jump shot from Holt ended the Falcons’ 4-minute, 37-second drought, but Hickey drove for a layup to tie it and Torres made a 3 from the corner for a 31-28 Yarmouth lead.

Shea got two points back at the foul line, but sophomore Will Cox set up Hickey for a 3 and a 34-30 Clippers’ advantage with eight minutes to go.

Yarmouth kept the good times rolling at the start of the fourth quarter as Torres made two free throws, but Holt hit a jumper and Shea made two free throws to make it a 36-34 game.

With 4:57 remaining, Torres made free throw. Then, after a Freeport turnover, Haywood got to a loose ball and made a highlight reel, no-look pass to Torres for a layup. 

With 2:37 to play, two Haywood free throws put the Clippers on top, 41-34, and put the Falcons firmly on the ropes.

But Freeport saved its best for last.

The comeback began with two Shea Wagner foul shots 50 seconds later.

After Eckersley-Ray missed two free throws, Holt was fouled with 1:11 remaining and he made both free throws.

On the second make, Rogers was called for his fifth foul and Wagner went back to the line, where he calmly sank both attempts to suddenly pull the Falcons within a single point, 41-40.

After Gabe Wagner stole the ball, Shea missed, but Gabe Wagner kept possession alive with an offensive rebound. He got the ball to Holt, who was fouled with 27.7 seconds showing.

With an audible, partisan crowd trying to distract him, Holt wasn’t rattled, sinking both free throws to give Freeport the lead for good, 42-41.

“I heard the crowd being super-loud, so I had to focus,” Holt said. “I had my normal routine and let it go.”

Yarmouth turned the ball over, but after Arsenault sank one of two foul shots, the Clippers got another chance.

After advancing the ball past midcourt, Yarmouth called timeout with 8.6 seconds remaining, then, after failing to get the ball inbounds, the Clippers called another timeout.

Yarmouth never did get the ball in, as Hickey collided with Gabe Wagner and Hickey was called for an offensive foul, giving Freeport the ball back.

The Falcons got the ball in to Shea Wagner and with 4.6 seconds to play, Wagner sank two free throws and that clinched it.

“Shea isn’t one of our strongest foul shooters, but he stepped up and hit the biggest shots,” Falcons coach Bill Ridge said. “That gave us a little bit of a buffer.”

At 8:55 p.m., the final horn sounded and at last, Freeport got to celebrate a win over the Clippers, 45-41.

“We couldn’t get going offensively all night,” Holt said. “They played good man defense. The foul shots did it for us. We had to pick it up and we did that. We switched up our defense a couple times at the end from a 1-3-1 (zone) to man.”

“It was an ugly game, but it was pretty at the end,” Ridge said. “We hit some big foul shots. It’s a different attitude for the kids on the team right now. Even when things aren’t going well, guys are up, guys are talking about how they can make changes out there. You saw that happen. They played strong with the ball, hit foul shots and played strong defense at the end.

“Beating Yarmouth is a great thing. That’s a big one. We had Yarmouth, then Gray Thursday, so it’s good to get the first one. The guys think they should be better than they were tonight. They’re still hungry. They feel they left points out there and gave up points that were too easy for the opposition. It’s a good attitude to have.”

Holt came up clutch when his team needed him and he finished with 18 points, to go with four rebounds and four steals.

Shea had eight points, Shea Wagner six, Barrett (seven boards and four steals) and Thomas (six rebounds, three blocks) four apiece, Gabe Wagner three and Arsenault two. 

The Falcons overcame 18 turnovers and hit a clutch 18-of-24 free throws.

Step in the right direction

Yarmouth got a tremendous effort from Torres, who had a game-high 21 points, as well as five rebounds.

“Jonny wants it about as much as anyone I’ve been around,” Allen said. “He loves the game and he puts it all on the line like we saw tonight. He sparked us tonight.”

Haywood and Hickey each finished with six points and Eckersley-Ray (a game-high 14 boards) and Rogers had four apiece.

The Clippers eked out a 34-33 rebounding edge and drained 10-of-16 free throws, but turned the ball over 23 times.

“It’s a big improvement (from Friday), but we didn’t put 32 minutes together,” Allen lamented. “We saw glimpses tonight of what it takes. We had spurts where we played as a team and with intensity, but it wasn’t 32 minutes and unfortunately, the worst of it was the last few minutes. We fell apart and didn’t make good decisions with the ball and missed free throws. That game was ours and we coughed it up. We won’t point fingers, only look at ourselves and go forward and figure what we need to do to improve. Freeport is tough as nails. We knew it was a measuring stick for us. I was proud of the effort.”

On track

Yarmouth will try again to get its first win next Tuesday when it plays at Fryeburg Academy.

“There’s nothing easy about our schedule,” Allen said. “We have to look at it as a daily process. We can’t hang our heads. We did some things well and we have to keep going with that and focus on the areas we fell apart.  The guys know they let one slip away and they understand the level of commitment it’ll take going forward to hopefully not let it happen again.”

Freeport plays its home opener Thursday when Gray-New Gloucester pays a visit. The Falcons then host Traip Academy Wednesday of next week.

“We have to improve on our offense,” Holt said. “We have to move around and set screens.”

“Gray is as good as it gets,” said Ridge. “We have to get a lot better in one day. We’ll see what happens Thursday.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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