KENNEBUNK — The Kennebunk High boys’ basketball team beat Falmouth for the second time this season, winning Thursday’s Class A South regular-season finale, 54-51. And the win could set up a third and more important meeting.

Kennebunk (14-4) expects to stay No. 5 in the standings and still will trail Falmouth (13-5). But Falmouth, which entered the night ranked third, could slip to No. 4 when the Heal point dust settles. If that happens, Falmouth vs. Kennebunk III will be a regional quarterfinal on Feb. 15 at the Portland Expo.

“I don’t know how it affects us going into the tournament but I’d rather go into the tournament with a win,” said Kennebunk Coach David Leal. “Plus, that game, I wanted to play Falmouth’s style. We’re usually more of a press-and-run team but I wanted to get used to tournament play, and we proved we can win if we have to slow down.”

Zack Sullivan (16 points) took over in the fourth quarter for Kennebunk. Sullivan converted a four-point play after being fouled on a made 3-pointer to give Kennebunk a 50-47 lead with 2:32 to play, further revving a large Kennebunk student section.

“No way. Not going to lose this game. Last (home) game ever,” Sullivan said. “I guess it was a good momentum boost. The fans were all into it.”

Then, in quick order, Sullivan, one of Kennebunk’s three senior starters, drove baseline for another basket, drew a charge, and came down with two tough defensive rebounds to keep the lead at 52-47 with under a minute to play.

Falmouth nearly got it to overtime. Michael Simonds hit a tough leaner in the lane to cut the lead to three.

After two clutch free throws by Max Murray, Kennebunk’s 6-foot-4 junior forward, Nik Hester of Falmouth converted an offensive rebound with 2.2 seconds left.

Then the lanky 6-7 Hester snatched the baseline inbounds pass, dribbled to the corner and got off a 3-point shot that beat the buzzer but missed.

“They made some shots when they had to and it came down to one possession at the end,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Halligan. “It was a great game to get ready for the tournament because you see, in this game, every possession was important.”

Murray led Kennebunk with 22 points. He scored nine in the second quarter – six after Falmouth built the largest lead of the night for either team at 24-16 – helping create a 24-24 halftime tie.

“Max, his last three games has been averaging over 30. He’s the best big player in the state, I think,” Leal said.

There were eight more ties until Sullivan’s four-point play, with Murray scoring 11 second-half points to counter Falmouth’s inside game featuring mid-range jumpers from Hester (14 points), power postups from Sam Manganello (19 points) and drives by Simonds (10 points).

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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