Yarmouth 50 Freeport 43

Y- 12 7 16 15- 50
F-  12 13 16 2- 43

Y- Torres 4-3-12, Rogers 5-0-10, Haywood 4-0-10, Eckersley-Ray 3-0-6, Hickey 2-0-5, Cox 2-0-4, Lainey 1-0-3

F- Shea 4-2-13, Holt 3-1-8, Ngoal 3-0-6, Barrett 2-0-5, S. Wagner 2-0-4, G. Wagner 1-0-3, Cockburn 0-2-2, Helie 1-0-2

Y (5) Haywood 2, Hickey, Lainey, Torres 1
F (6) Shea 3, Bennett, Holt, G. Wagner 1

Y- 19
F- 21

Free throws
Y: 3-10
F: 5-8

FREEPORT—Yarmouth’s boys’ 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.

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.

Where Yarmouth roared to life.

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 and went on to a 50-43 victory.

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.” 

New streak

Freeport started with wins at Sacopee Valley (65-27) and Yarmouth (45-41). After a 57-56 home loss to Gray-New Gloucester, the Falcons defeated visiting Traip Academy (62-51), host Morse (82-51), visiting Lincoln Academy (76-33), visiting Old Orchard Beach (95-50) and host Poland (67-49). After its win streak was snapped at Greely (75-61), Freeport rebounded with a hard-fought 49-44 home victory over Mt. Ararat. Tuesday, the Falcons let a 17-point second half lead disappear and lost at home to Cape Elizabeth, 46-43.

Yarmouth began the season with a 70-39 home loss to York, then suffered a 45-41 home setback to Freeport. After a 49-41 loss at Fryeburg Academy, the Clippers edged visiting Waynflete, 50-47. Yarmouth then lost at Gray-New Gloucester (58-52), won at Wells in overtime (52-49), fell at Traip Academy (50-45), edged visiting Cape Elizabeth (46-44), dropped a tough 43-42 home decision to Gray-New Gloucester, won at Lake Region, 64-35, and Monday, fell at home to two-time defending Class A champion Greely, 45-34. Wednesday, the Clippers fell, 55-47, at Waynflete.

On Dec. 11, Freeport’s late rally allowed it to beat Yarmouth for the first time 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.

The Clippers got the jump 18 seconds in when Torres made a 3, but the next seven points went to the Falcons, as Shea got warmed up with two free throws, then drained a 3-pointer before senior Kaleb Barrett fed sophomore Alex Helie for a layup and a 7-3 lead.

Back came Yarmouth, as Torres drove for a layup, then Torres took a pass from sophomore Will Cox and made another layup to tie it.

After Shea and junior Jason Lainey traded 3s to keep the game even, senior Shea Wagner hit a short jumper to put Freeport back on top before a putback from Rogers at the horn pulled the Clippers even at 12-12 after one period.

The Falcons then got a little separation in the second quarter.

After Rogers started the new frame with a layup, 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.

After Cox countered with a bank shot, a pair of foul shots from junior 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.

Haywood answered with a 3 and after Holt made a layup, Torres set up Rogers for a layup, cutting the deficit to six, 35-29.

With 4:24 remaining in the frame, Freeport senior Gabe Wagner saw his first action of the night and immediately blocked a shot, which led to a leaner from Ngoal and an eight-point lead, but Hickey countered with a jumper and Hickey set up Rogers for a layup to make it 37-33 Falcons.

Gabe Wagner countered with a 3 for the hosts, but Rogers made a jump shot before a Holt free throw put Freeport up, 41-35, heading to the fourth period.

There, Yarmouth stole the show.

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.

After Shea missed for the Falcons, Haywood grabbed the rebound. Shea Wagner stole the ball back, but Haywood forced a turnover and Torres added a free throw.

Barrett missed a 3 for Freeport and the Clippers closed out their 50-43 victory.

“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.

“We’re banged up and sick right now, but everyone who took the court tonight contributed and played heart,” Allen said.

The Clippers made just 3 of 10 free throws, but overcame 19 turnovers.

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 Falcons coach Bill 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, Shea Wagner four (as well as eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Gabe Wagner three, Cockburn two and Helie two.

The Falcons turned the ball over 21 times and hit 5 of 8 free throws.

“We’re really good of playing three quarters of a basketball game,” 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.”

Each team finished with 31 rebounds. 

Nothing’s settled

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.”

Yarmouth (sixth in Class B South) is at Cape Elizabeth Monday, then returns home Friday to face Wells.

“This is a big win,” Torres said. “We’ve improved a lot and we’re ready to come together. As long as we make the tournament, we feel like we’ll be tough to beat.”

“I think this win sort of reaffirms that we have a right to be confident and that we can play ball,” Allen said. “We’re heading in the right direction and we haven’t even come close to reaching our potential yet. Our goal is to peak at the end. If we can keep going in that direction, I’ll be happy.”

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

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