Falmouth senior Nik Hester, who had a game-high 13 points and 13 rebounds, goes up for two points over Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Hartel during the Yachtsmen’s 54-25 victory Thursday evening at the Portland Exposition Building.

Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.


Falmouth 54 Cape Elizabeth 25

F- 8 12 18 16- 54
CE- 4 4 6 11- 25

F- Hester 5-2-13, Graiver 3-2-10, Simonds 4-0-8, Anderson 3-1-7, Cooke 3-0-6, Pitre 2-0-4, LeFevre 1-0-3, Douglas 1-0-2, Hamilton 0-1-1

CE- Morse 3-3-9, Hartel 4-0-8, Aceto 1-0-3, Mullen 1-0-3, Bassett 1-0-2

F (4) Graiver 2, Hester, LeFevre 1
CE (2) Aceto, Mullen 1

F- 9
CE- 13

F: 6-13
CE: 3-6

PORTLAND—Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team bounced back nicely from a flat performance and its first loss.

The Cape Elizabeth Capers, meanwhile, are still struggling to find their way.

The ancient rivals met Thursday evening on the big stage of the Portland Exposition Building in a countable game that was part of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase and offense was at a premium for much of the game. 

After a first quarter which saw both teams struggle and Falmouth hold an 8-4 lead, the Yachtsmen got in gear in the second period and went on top, 20-8, at halftime.

Cape Elizabeth got the first basket of the third quarter, but Falmouth went on an 11-0 run to end all doubt and took a 38-14 advantage to the fourth period.

There, the Yachtsmen opened on a 13-5 surge and pulled away to prevail, 54-25.

Senior Nik Hester put on an above-the-rim show, scoring a game-high 13 points and collecting 13 rebounds, and unheralded junior reserve Will Graiver added 10 points off the bench as Falmouth bounced back from last weekend’s loss at Greely and improved to 5-1, handing Cape Elizabeth its third straight setback and dropping the Capers to 2-5 in the process.

“This was good for our confidence,” longtime Yachtsmen coach Dave Halligan said. “We talk about high highs and low lows and playing within ourselves. There are a lot of good teams out there. We wanted to learn from Greely and move past it and I thought we did that. Cape is always one of the better teams. They’re well-coached and you can’t count them out. They’ll put their pieces together.” 

Familiar setting

Thursday marked the third year in a row that Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth squared off as part of the holiday tournament at the Expo.

Both teams were coming in off a loss.

The Capers opened with losses at two-time defending Class A champion Greely (74-62) and Fryeburg Academy (41-39). After a 74-29 home win over Old Orchard Beach, the Capers evened their record by edging host Gray-New Gloucester, 62-55. After a 53-52 home loss to Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth fell at home to Kennebunk Saturday, 71-64.

The Yachtsmen, meanwhile, opened with wins at Marshwood (58-40) and Scarborough (60-56). Falmouth then downed visiting Brunswick (64-36) and Biddeford (59-16). Friday, the Yachtsmen went cold in a 46-29 loss at Greely.

Last year, Cape Elizabeth enjoyed a 50-41 win at the Expo, cutting Falmouth’s advantage to 21-15 dating back to the start of the 2001-02 season (see sidebar, below) in the process.

This time around, the Yachtsmen never trailed.

It took nearly three minutes for the scoring ice to be broken before Hester took a pass from junior Michael Simonds and made a backdoor layup. The next time down the floor, sophomore Nicco Pitre set up Hester for a layup and after a Cape Elizabeth timeout, Hester returned the favor and set up senior Doug Cooke for a layup and a 6-0 lead.

With 3:58 to go in the frame, senior Andrew Hartel drove for a layup to get the Capers on the board, but Simonds countered with a jumper. Late in the frame, Hartel made a layup to pull Cape Elizabeth within 8-4 after eight minutes.

The offense showed up for Falmouth in the second quarter, while Cape Elizabeth continued to struggle.

Forty-eight seconds into the second period, junior Jack Bassett got a leaner to drop for the Capers, but they wouldn’t score again until the final minute.

After junior Brady Douglas made a layup, Graiver drained a 3 and Hester stepped out and did the same to make it 16-6.

Cooke followed with a putback and a baseline jumper from Graiver pushed the Yachtsmen’s lead to 14.

With 43.6 seconds to go, a floater from sophomore Quinn Morse ended Cape Elizabeth’s 6-minute, 29-second drought and a 12-0 Falmouth to make the score 20-8 at halftime.

The Capers started the second half with a pair of Morse free throws, but they weren’t able to make a run, as Hartel picked up his third foul and Graiver hit a 3, Pitre made a jump shot and after a block from junior Nolan Anderson, Simonds made a layup, forcing a Cape Elizabeth timeout.

It didn’t help, as Hester made a spinner off the glass and after a steal, Hester set up Anderson for a layup and a commanding 31-10 lead.

With 2:28 to go, a 3 from senior Nate Mullen ended the Capers’ 4:55 drought, but Hester countered with a free throw and junior Josh LeFevre sank a 3 before Morse countered with a foul shot. Anderson then made a free throw and Anderson hit a bank shot for a commanding 38-14 Falmouth lead after three quarters.

Pitre set up Cooke for a layup to start the final stanza and Simonds converted a leaner. 

After a Hartel bank shot, Pitre hit a jumper to make it 44-16.

Senior Nick Aceto got three points back for the Capers with a shot from behind the arc, but Simonds drove for a layup, Hester made a free throw, Pitre set up Anderson for a layup and with 2:53 to go, a Hester putback made the score 51-19.

Hartel countered with a layup and Morse sank a long jumper, but two Graiver free throws and another from junior Emmett Hamilton accounted for Falmouth’s final points, while a runner from Morse brought the curtain down on the Yachtsmen’s 54-25 victory.

“(Greely) hit us hard,” Hester said. “We weren’t expecting that loss at all. We got back on track today. We weren’t prepared for that game, but we were better prepared today. We practiced and knew all their plays. We hit our shots and it went from there and we opened up a big lead.”

“It was a good team effort tonight,” Halligan said. “It wasn’t just one aspect of the game. We played a complete game, not a perfect game, but the bigs played big, our shooters shot the ball, we got to the foul line and we had good defensive pressure. Defense kept us in the game. Once we got our confidence up, good things happened.”

Hester feasted in the post all night, scoring 13 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and adding four steals, three assists and a pair of blocked shots.

“It’s always fun to play someone my size,” Hester said. “I got the better of (Hartel) this time.”

“Nik is a kid who enjoys the challenge and you have to have a challenge,” Halligan said. “He played within himself and played in control. He was one of the best players out there.” 

Graiver came off the bench to score 10 points.

“(Will) transferred in and has been a great sparkplug this year,” Hester said.

“Will is a competitor,” Halligan said. “He grinds it out and sticks his nose in. He made some big shots.”

Simonds finished with eight points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists, Anderson had seven points, Cooke six, Pitre four (to go with four assists), LeFevre three, Douglas two and Hamilton one.

Falmouth only turned the ball over nine times, had a 36-28 rebounding advantage and made 6 of 13 free throws.

Cape Elizabeth was led by Morse, who had nine points. Hartel added eight (to go with 13 boards) before he fouled out. Aceto and Mullen (six rebounds) each had three points and Bassett finished with two.

The Capers made 3 of 6 free throws and turned the ball over 13 times.

“There wasn’t enough toughness or self-discipline or understanding,” lamented longtime Cape Elizabeth coach Jim Ray. “We have to get back to practice and keep working at it. I just know we’re not playing very well as a unit. We’re trying to find the pieces that work the best. Right now, I’m not doing a good job of having the right pieces on the floor at the same time. We’re trying to teach them to play the game of basketball and it sounds easy. We’re not playing well together and we’re not able to be disciplined enough to get the ball where we need to get it.

“We try to get the ball to Andrew, but we don’t do a good job of making the right decision when to get it to him. We’re not patient. That’s very frustrating. We’ve been better than we were tonight. 

“Falmouth is always well-coached, disciplined and tough defensive team. We’re not close to being tough enough. We didn’t rebound well enough and they work hard to take things away. You have to give Falmouth credit.”

Happy new year

Cape Elizabeth has one final game in 2018, going to Westbrook Saturday. A trip to Brunswick a week from Friday opens the 2019 portion of the schedule.

“Good teams scout us and will have a game plan and will take our away our strengths,” Ray said. “If we don’t handle that better, it’ll continue to be a struggle.”

Falmouth is back at the Expo Saturday to meet York. The Yachtsmen open the new year Wednesday at home versus dangerous Kennebunk.

“We’re getting better every game,” Hester said. “We’re excited to see where we end up. We can still score better. Our defense has been pretty good.”

“It’s nice to play here and get used to the (tournament) atmosphere, so we’re not awed by the building,” Halligan said.

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

Cape Elizabeth sophomore Nate Mullen drives on Falmouth sophomore Sean Dilworth.

Falmouth junior Michael Simonds collides with Cape Elizabeth senior Andrew Hartel.

Falmouth sophomore Nicco Pitre tries to dribble out of trouble.

Falmouth senior Nik Hester attempts to shoot despite getting a hand in the face from Cape Elizabeth senior Tanner Carpenter.

Recent Cape Elizabeth-Falmouth results

Cape Elizabeth 50 Falmouth 41 (@ Expo)

Cape Elizabeth 40 Falmouth 37 (OT) (@ Expo)
Class A South semifinal
Falmouth 43 Cape Elizabeth 38

@ Falmouth 69 Cape Elizabeth 66
Falmouth 44 @ Cape Elizabeth 42
Class A South semifinal
Falmouth 52 Cape Elizabeth 49 

@ Cape Elizabeth 50 Falmouth 45
@ Falmouth 69 Cape Elizabeth 62

@ Falmouth 71 Cape Elizabeth 49
Falmouth 62 @ Cape Elizabeth 50

Falmouth 72 @ Cape Elizabeth 49
@ Falmouth 53 Cape Elizabeth 41

@ Falmouth 60 Cape Elizabeth 37
Falmouth 52 @ Cape Elizabeth 37

Cape Elizabeth 55 @ Falmouth 48
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 44

Falmouth 62 @ Cape Elizabeth 55
Cape Elizabeth 48 @ Falmouth 45
Western B Final
Falmouth 53 Cape Elizabeth 40

Falmouth 55 @ Cape Elizabeth 53
Cape Elizabeth 73 @ Falmouth 70
Western B Final
Cape Elizabeth 58 Falmouth 48

Cape Elizabeth 58 @ Falmouth 57
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 37

Falmouth 57 @ Cape Elizabeth 48
Cape Elizabeth 52 @ Falmouth 44

@ Falmouth 58 Cape Elizabeth 47
@ Cape Elizabeth 53 Falmouth 46
Western B semifinals
Falmouth 60 Cape Elizabeth 45

Cape Elizabeth 65 @ Falmouth 64
Falmouth 44 @ Cape Elizabeth 34

Falmouth 47 @ Cape Elizabeth 38
@ Falmouth 65 Cape Elizabeth 45
Western B quarterfinals
Cape Elizabeth 44 Falmouth 42

@ Falmouth 67 Cape Elizabeth 58

@ Cape Elizabeth 65 Falmouth 41

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