CAPE ELIZABETH—Cape Elizabeth’s boys high school basketball team was in dire need of a victory when it hosted Freeport in an early season Class B South showdown Saturday evening.

And as has been the case for over a decade, when the Capers really need a win, it’s a good thing to have a Bowe on hand.

Cape Elizabeth held Freeport to just one basket in the third quarter, and 3-pointers from sophomore Will Bowe and senior Nolan Smith made it 23-20 Capers heading to the fourth period.

Freeport did all it could to rally, but each time the Falcons got close, the Capers answered, and Bowe came up huge late, hitting a 3-ball, scoring on a layup, then clinching it with two free throws as Cape Elizabeth prevailed, 35-31, in a key Western Maine Conference matchup.

Bowe led all scorers with 19 points as the Capers improved to 1-2 on the season and dropped Freeport to 2-1 in the process.

“It’s a big boost for us,” said Bowe. “We have to work hard for every win. No game will be easy on our schedule. Freeport’s a good team and it was close, but we had enough to win it.”

Last winter, Cape Elizabeth rallied to beat Freeport in the regular season, 46-43, then beat the Falcons, 56-49, in the Class B South quarterfinals in the first step of the Capers’ run to the state final, which ended with an agonizing 49-47, double-overtime loss to Caribou.

The Falcons hoped to beat Cape Elizabeth for the first time in nearly a dozen years, since a 53-51 home victory Dec. 18, 2007, but instead, the Capers got in the win column for the first time this winter and beat Freeport for the 15th consecutive time.

Freeport senior Gabe Wagner tied the score with a free throw, a pair of foul shots from sophomore Blaine Cockburn put the Falcons on top. After a Wagner steal, senior Heath Cockburn made a layup and Arsenault added a three, but not everything was rosy for the Falcons, as both Wagner and Heath Cockburn picked up their second fouls.

Cape Elizabeth started slowly and dug a 10-3 hole after one quarter, as Falcon sophomore Colby Arsenault scored five points. Bowe drained a pair of threes in the second period to get the Capers going.

Cape Elizabeth came to life in the second period. Just 19 seconds in, Bowe buried a 3-point shot from the corner, snapping his team’s six-plus minute scoring drought. Freshman Evan Reeves added two free throws and senior Jack Bassett added one for the hosts and with 5:07 remaining in the half, Bowe drained another trey for a 12-10 lead.

A jumper from Blaine Cockburn tied the score, but a long 3-pointer from junior Dylan Swift gave the Capers the lead again.

The Falcons closed the half strong, as junior Alex Helie tied it with a 3-ball, and Heath Cockburn fed Arsenault for a layup and a 17-15 halftime advantage.

In the first 16 minutes, Bowe led Cape Elizabeth with nine points and Freeport was paced by seven from Arsenault.

Offense remained at a premium in the third quarter. After Smith and Arsenault traded threes, the hosts went ahead to stay with 4:57 to go in the third as Bowe made another shot from beyond the arc. After three scoreless minutes, junior Nate Mullen added a free throw and in the final minute of the frame and Swift made a foul shot for a 23-20 Cape Elizabeth advantage.

After Reeves opened the fourth period with a short bank shot, a long jumper from senior Liam Holt pulled Freeport within 25-22, snapping his team’s 7:09 drought in the process.

Mullen coolly hit a 3-pointer and after Wagner drove for a layup, Blaine Cockburn drove for a layup with five minutes to go and the Falcons only trailed by two, 28-26.

After nearly two scoreless minutes and multiple chances for Freeport to tie the game or take the lead, Bowe came up huge once again, draining a trey from the corner to make it 31-26 with 3:08 to go.

“I was definitely feeling it, so if I was open, I was shooting it,” Bowe said.

Wagner made it a one possession game again with a putback with 2:10 on the clock, but after breaking the press, Smith set up Bowe for a layup with 1:05 left and Cape Elizabeth clung to a 33-28 advantage.

“Nolan had a nice pass and that was a big shot,” said Capers coach Jim Ray.

The Capers kept the Falcons in the game by missing the front end of a pair of one-and-ones, then with 8.2 seconds showing, Blaine Cockburn hit a three from the corner to pull Freeport within just two.

The Falcons still had hopes of pulling it out if they could get the ball back, but with 5.5 seconds left, Bowe was fouled and he wasn’t about to cap his best varsity game to date with anything other than two free throws that found the bottom of the net.

“(Will) knocked them down,” said Ray. “He’s got some good DNA.”

“We’re the (New England) Patriots of Southern Maine Class B basketball, struggling on offense,” Ray said. “Our defense cannot have lapses. (Freeport’s) a tough team to hold down over the course of the game. They have some good, quick athletes. We knew this would be tough.”

Freeport’s top scorer was Arsenault, who had 10 points. Blaine Cockburn added nine (to go with seven rebounds), Wagner had five (as well as a game-high 14 boards), Helie three and Heath Cockburn and Holt two apiece. The Falcons had a 39-31 rebounding advantage and made 3-of-4 free throws while committing 14 turnovers.

“It was a good effort,” said Freeport coach Bill Ridge, whose Falcons jump right back into action today at Morse (6:30 p.m.). “We knew with Cape we had to play the full 32 (minutes). We didn’t have the shooting night we’re accustomed to and we had foul troubles. We have some things to clean up. The guys know we were a couple mental mistakes from getting a win.”

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