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Forecaster Sports
Posted
Updated February 22, 2020
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York erupts in second half to beat Falmouth in regional final

Undefeated Wildcats pull away for a 52-34 victory.

BOX SCORE

York 52 Falmouth 34

F- 7 15 6 6- 34
Y- 10 8 19 15- 52

F- Pitre 4-3-13, Hamilton 4-0-8, Coyne 2-0-5, Graiver 1-1-3, McKee 1-1-3, Williams 1-0-2

Y- Cummins 5-4-17, Donovan 4-0-11, MacDonald 4-2-11, Linn 2-2-7, Hynes 2-1-6

3-pointers:
F (3) Pitre 2, Coyne 1
Y (9) Cummins, Donovan 3, Hynes, Linn, MacDonald 1

Turnovers:
F- 10
Y- 8

FTs
F: 5-11
Y: 9-10

PORTLAND—For a half, Falmouth’s upset dream was alive and well.

Then, York came out for the second half and dashed it.

Quickly and decisively.

Friday evening’s Class A South boys’ basketball Final at the Cross Insurance Arena saw the high-flying, top-ranked and undefeated Wildcats hope to run and gun their way past the meticulous and steady third-seeded Yachtsmen, but for the game’s first 16 minutes, Falmouth had its way with York.

The Yachtsmen were down, 10-7, after one quarter, but they dominated the second and behind 10 points from junior point guard Nicco Pitre, held a 22-18 advantage at halftime.

Then, in the third period, Wildcats’ junior standout Brady Cummins went off for 11 points and sparked a comeback.

With the game tied, 26-26, York closed the frame on an 11-2 run to seize control.

The Wildcats then ended all doubt in the fourth quarter, gradually pulling away and going on to a 52-34 victory, holding Falmouth to just 11 second half points while scoring 34 of their own.

Cummins had a game-high 17 points and 14 rebounds and seniors Jonathan Donovan and Will MacDonald added 11 points apiece as York won its 21st consecutive game this fall, advanced to battle Hampden Academy (19-1) in the Class A state final Saturday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m., at Cross Insurance Arena and in the process, ended the Yachtsmen’s campaign at 16-5.

“We gave it our best shot,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “We played well for a half. (York’s) a good team and they have a lot of weapons. There were some things that didn’t go our way and we dug too deep a hole and you can’t do that against a good team like (York).”

Best for last

It’s hard to remember, but Falmouth dropped its first two games this winter, before closing on a 14-2 surge (see sidebar, above, for links to previous game stories). The Yachtsmen then handled No. 6 Marshwood in the quarterfinals (59-38) and upset No. 2 Kennebunk in Wednesday’s semifinal round (64-51).

York produced its first-ever undefeated regular season and after eliminating No. 8 Biddeford (80-58) in the quarterfinals, the Wildcats had to hold on for dear life to eliminate No. 4 Greely, the three-time defending state champion, in Wednesday’s semifinals, 59-57.

The teams played a very close game Jan. 7 in Falmouth, which saw the Wildcats prevail, 68-63, behind MacDonald’s 36-point explosion (the Yachtsmen were paced by 18 points from senior Michael Simonds, 15 from sophomore Brady Coyne, 12 from Pitre and 10 from senior Emmett Hamilton).

Falmouth had won all five prior playoff meetings, including a 48-37 triumph in last year’s semifinals.

“We all wanted Falmouth,” said MacDonald. “Most of us were like, we want Falmouth, we want to play Falmouth. Last year we didn’t get the job done, so this wasn’t just for us, this was for some of those older kids (that) got sent home by Falmouth.”

Friday, the Wildcats turned the tide and captured a regional championship for the first time since 1999.

Pitre scored the game’s first basket on a leaner 35 seconds in, but the next five points went to York, as senior Riley Linn knocked down a 3 and MacDonald scored on a putback.

After Pitre tied the game with a 3, Cummins drained a 3 for the Wildcats and junior Teagan Hynes drove for a layup.

With 2:43 on the clock, Hamilton got a leaner to roll in and no one scored the rest of the first quarter which ended, York 10 Falmouth 7.

In the second period, like they did in the semifinals, the Yachtsmen took over and took the lead.

After senior Macklin Williams opened the frame with a jumper for Falmouth, a Pitre 3-pointer with 7:05 left in the half gave the Yachtsmen the lead. Coyne then set up junior Ethan McKee for a layup to cap a 9-0 run.

With 5:03 left in the half, the Wildcats ended a 6-minute, 3-second drought, as Cummins knocked down a 3, but Pitre made a layup after a steal and after Hynes made a foul shot, Coyne scored on a putback.

Linn made a reverse layup for York, but Coyne buried a 3 and after MacDonald got a fadeaway jumper to bounce in, a McKee free throw put Falmouth ahead at halftime, 22-18.

Pitre’s 10 points led the way, while the Wildcats were paced by six points from Cummins.

York then came to life in the third period.

Cummins got things started with two free throws, then a Donovan 3 gave the Wildcats their first lead since 10-9.

After Hamilton put Falmouth back on top with a leaner, Cummins sank a 3 for a 26-24 York advantage.

Hamilton tied the game with a baseline leaner, but MacDonald made two free throws, then Cummins did the same and the Wildcats never looked back.

“We didn’t have much flow in the first half, so in our locker room we just talked about energy and that was the main focus in the second half and we were successful,” Cummins said.

Hamilton answered with another baseline jumper with 3:34 left in the frame, but the Yachtsmen wouldn’t score again in the quarter.

The Wildcats’ game-breaking run began when Hynes fed Cummins for a layup on the fastbreak. Cummins then hit a runner in transition and with 1:35 left, after Donovan kept play alive with an offensive rebound, MacDonald knocked down a 3 to give York a 37-28 lead heading for the fourth period.

Where the Wildcats would open it up even more.

Hynes set up MacDonald for a layup to start the final stanza, then Donovan made a 3 and with 4:41 to go, Hynes launched a long 3 which hit the rim, then bounced in to cap the 19-2 run and make it 45-28.

Pitre ended the 7-minute, 20-second Falmouth scoring drought with two free throws with 4:14 on the clock. After Pitre made another foul shot, Donovan sank another 3 and after Pitre hit two more foul shots, Donovan made a layup after a steal for York’s final points.

Just before the horn, Yachtsmen senior Will Graiver converted a three-point play and that accounted for the 52-34 final score.

“We started making shots in the second half,” said Wildcats’ coach Paul Marquis. “We had decent looks in the first half, but didn’t capitalize. It was a battle of wills and when you’re not making shots and you have to get back on defense, they kind of dictated play in the first half.

“These guys have worked so hard since last year at this time and they weren’t going to be denied. These guys have appreciated what we’ve done as a new coaching staff and have represented their school and community with pride. I couldn’t be happier for them and the town of York.”

Cummins had a tremendous game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Cummins was given the Jack Coyne Award as the regional tournament’s outstanding player/sports-person.

Donovan added 11 points and three steals, MacDonald also had 11 points and nine rebounds, Linn added seven points and Hynes had six (as well as four assists).

The Wildcats enjoyed a slim 34-30 rebounding margin, only turned the ball over eight times and hit 9-of-10 free throws.

Next up for York is a Hampden Academy squad which survived Cony, 52-50, in its regional final Saturday. The teams have never met in a championship game, but could produce a classic as the Wildcats hope to capture their first Gold Ball since 1991.

“We’re going to have to do a lot of the same things we’ve done for 21 games,” Marquis said. “We’ll be ready.”

Another near miss

Pitre paced Falmouth with 13 points and seven rebounds. Hamilton bowed out with eight points, Coyne had five (to go with five assists), Graiver and McKee three apiece and Williams two.

The Yachtsmen turned the ball over 10 times and went 5-of-11 from the charity stripe.

Simonds was held scoreless.

“It was team defense recognizing where (Simonds) was,” said Marquis. “This doesn’t take away from his tremendous career. We gave up 34 to (Greely’s Logan Bagshaw) last game, but it worked out for us tonight.”

Falmouth gave York a scare for a half and it didn’t go without notice.

“Falmouth’s well-coached and well-disciplined,” said Marquis. “They take care of the ball. They have good shooters and good size and they defend the heck out of you. We knew we’d have trouble scoring and they did a great job in the first half. What a great program Coach Halligan has.”

Falmouth lost in the regional final for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons.

“I’m disappointed in the game, but I’m not disappointed in the season and the careers of these seniors,” Halligan said. “(York) did a great job defensively and we got looks that we didn’t make. We missed foul shots, we missed layups. Once you get down eight or 12, you have to get out of what you’re doing. I’d rather go down swinging than trying to keep it close.

“Some great kids are going to be missed. Michael Simonds has been through so much. He was a great leader for us.”

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this story.

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

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