FREEPORT — Yarmouth’s boys high school basketball team was in dire need of a victory Friday evening when it traveled to Freeport, and what better way for the Clippers to get back on track than to rally and defeat their rival.

The Clippers allowed just two fourth-quarter points to the Falcons and rallied from a six-point halftime deficit for a 50-43 Western Maine Conference victory.

“We’re really good of playing three quarters of a basketball game,” Freeport coach Bill Ridge lamented. “We’re just not mentally there and capable of focusing for four quarters. We know we need to get better at that. They hit some big shots. Give them credit. We just didn’t make ours.”

After a hard-fought first period ended in a 12-12 tie, the Falcons opened up a six-point halftime lead, thanks in large part to 13 points from senior Eriksen Shea.

Freeport went up by as many as nine points in the third quarter and took a 41-35 advantage to the fourth period.

The Clippers allowed just two points, took the lead for good on a layup from senior Jonny Torres with 2:25 to play, then stymied the Falcons’ comeback attempt.

Torres paced Yarmouth with a dozen points, seniors Ashanti Haywood and Jake Rogers added 10 apiece, and the Clippers snapped a two-game skid, improved to 5-8 and in the process, dropped Freeport to 8-4.

“A lot of people like to talk about our record, but we’re extremely confident, rightly so in my opinion,” said Yarmouth first-year coach Jonas Allen. “The guys haven’t given up. The coaches certainly haven’t given up. We understand it’s our first year together and we get better every time we take the court, whether it’s practice or a game.”

On Dec. 11, Freeport’s late rally allowed it to beat Yarmouth for the first time since Dec. 20, 2005 and snap an 18-game skid in the series.

Friday, the Falcons appeared on the verge of beating the Clippers again, but the visitors dominated the fourth period and prevailed.

After the first-quarter deadlock, the Falcons got a little separation in the second. After Rogers started the new frame with a layup, Shea Wagner saved the ball to keep possession alive for Freeport, then Shea hit a jumper to tie it.

Senior Charlie Ngoal hit a jump shot for the Falcons, but a 3-ball from Haywood gave Yarmouth a 17-16 lead with 4:18 to go in the half.

Thirty-two seconds later, a Shea 3-pointer put Freeport on top. Barrett then drove for a layup and Ngoal hit a jumper. Heath Cockburn put the Falcons ahead, 25-19, at the break.

In the first half, Shea led all scorers with 13 points and he had three steals as well. Torres paced the Clippers with seven points, but 12 turnovers hindered the visitors’ cause.

In the third period, Yarmouth tried to cut into the deficit, but Freeport managed to hold on to a six-point edge by quarter’s end.

After Rogers grabbed an offensive rebound, Hickey made a 3-pointer to start the second half, but at the other end, after a Shea Wagner steal, Barrett knocked down a 3-pointer.

Haywood countered with a jump shot, but Wagner scored on a putback and Holt’s 3-ball accounted for the Falcons’ biggest lead, 33-24, with 5:58 remaining in the quarter.

Clipper rally

A long jump shot from Cox opened the final stanza. With 6:20 to go, a leaner from Holt restored the Falcons’ six-point lead, but it also proved to be their final points. With 4:41 on the clock, senior Noah Eckersley-Ray scored his first points, on a hook shot, and 28 seconds later, Torres made two free throws to make it a one-possession contest.

With 3:52 remaining, Torres set up Eckersley-Ray for a layup and the game was tied, 43-43.

Torres then took matters into his own hands and drove for a layup with 2:25 on the clock and the Clippers had their first lead since the score was 17-16.

“I was just driving to the hoop,” Torres said. “I look for my teammates, but if I have an open shot, I’ll take it. It went in. That was a big basket.”

Freeport couldn’t counter and 23 seconds later, Haywood made a layup. After a Cox steal, Eckersley-Ray got a leaner to rattle home and just like that, Yarmouth was up, 49-43, with 1:22 to play.

“This means everything,” Torres said. “We knew Freeport was good, but we weren’t scared of them. We’re not scared of anyone. Everyone came out ready to go and battle. The coaches had a great game plan and we executed it well. We take pride on defense. We always get after it. Sometimes shots don’t fall, but we can play defense.”

“We finally attacked their pressure with confidence, versus backing up,” Allen said. “Once we started slicing into their pressure, there was a different feel to the game. Suddenly, we became the aggressor and that shifted everything. Our defense speaks for itself. Holding them to two points in the fourth quarter, that’s what we’re made of. That’s our identity. We started trusting each other to be in the right spot and that was the biggest difference.”

Torres led Yarmouth with 12 points and had three assists. Rogers added 10 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots, Haywood had 10 points, Eckersley-Ray finished with six points and seven boards, Hickey had five points, three rebounds and three assists, Cox finished with four points (to go with five rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Lainey had three.

Freeport was paced by Shea, who led all scorers with 13 points. He also had four steals.

“(Yarmouth) keyed on Eriksen in the second half, but he got loose in the first,” said Ridge. “He can score in bunches. He’s had some injuries early, but we’ll take that as a positive tonight, that he’s back.”

Holt had eight points (and eight rebounds), Ngoal six, Barrett five and Shea Wagner four (as well as eight rebounds, three assists and three steals).

Freeport’s challenging stretch continues Tuesday at Waynflete. The Falcons (currently fifth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) visit Fryeburg Academy Friday.

“The rest of the year isn’t easy for us,” Ridge said. “The guys know there are little things each of them can do to get better.”



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