BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 57 Freeport 35

Y- 15 13 14 15- 57
F- 2 16 7 10- 35

Y- Psyhogeos 8-0-17, Waeldner 4-1-10, Cox 4-0-9, Snyder 3-0-6, Augur 2-0-5, Merrill 2-0-4, McGosh 1-0-2, Rollins 1-0-2, Venden 1-0-2

F- Arsenault 4-0-10, Cockburn 4-0-10, T. Casale 2-3-7, Carr 1-0-3, Shea 1-0-3, Thomas 1-0-2

3-pointers:
Y (4) Augur, Cox, Psyhogeos, Waeldner 1
F (6) Arsenault, Cockburn 2 ,Carr, Shea 1

Turnovers:
Y- 15
F- 22

FTs
Y: 1-1
F: 3-6

FREEPORT—Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team is not only building a culture.

It’s also turning into a pretty formidable squad.

Tuesday evening, at rival Freeport, the Clippers stormed out of the gates in each half and went on to an impressive victory.

Yarmouth never trailed and capped the first quarter on a 13-0 run to lead, 15-2, as senior Will Cox did a little of everything.

The Falcons tried to answer in the second period and got as close as six on a pair of 3-pointers from senior Blaine Cockburn, but the Clippers took a 28-18 advantage to halftime.

Yarmouth then began the second half on a 10-0 surge, as junior Peter Psyhogeos scored seven of them, and by third quarter’s end, the Clippers had a comfortable 42-25 lead.

Freeport never got closer than 14 from there and Yarmouth went on to a surprisingly decisive 57-35 victory.

Psyhogeos led all scorers with 17 points and Cox stuffed the stat sheet as the Clippers improved to 4-1 and in the process, dropped the Falcons to 2-3.

“This group of kids has bought in in a way we haven’t experienced yet,” said Yarmouth’s third-year coach Jonas Allen. “They’re unselfish. They understand that energy is the key. When you challenge them, they fully respond. We’ve focused on character-building and what you saw tonight is the result of that. These kids have bought in and get all the credit.”

Neighbors and rivals

Freeport and Yarmouth have played their share of memorable games against each other in recent years.

Last winter, the Falcons took both meetings, 55-52 at home and 70-49 in Yarmouth. Freeport went on to qualify for the Class B South tournament (losing a close game to eventual regional champion York in the quarterfinals), while the Clippers were left on the outside looking in for the first time since 2006.

This season, Freeport opened with a pair of wins over Brunswick, 66-43 at home and 47-44 at the Dragons, then dropped close games against visiting Mt. Ararat (41-40) and host Cape Elizabeth (44-40).

Yarmouth, meanwhile, swept Lake Region to start the year (winning, 76-35, in Naples and 51-40 at home). After a 52-43 loss at Brunswick, the Clippers turned the tables against the Dragons Friday with a 48-34 home victory.

Tuesday, the Falcons hoped to make it three wins in a row over their rival, but Yarmouth quickly made it apparent that wouldn’t be the case.

Cox hinted at a big first quarter to come when he took a pass from senior Cam Merrill and made a layup 59 seconds in.

Freeport drew even on a driving layup from Cockburn, but with 4:25 left in the first quarter, a putback from junior Cole Snyder gave the Clippers the lead for good.

Cox fed Waeldner for a layup, then Cox drained a 3-point shot, forcing Falcons coach Bill Ridge to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as junior Sutter Augur scored on a runner, Cox fed Psyhogeos for a layup, then, just before the horn, Cox hit a contested fadeaway jump shot for a 15-2 advantage.

“It was a big game for us, so we came out ready,” Cox said. “We remembered last year.”

Cox had seven points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the first quarter, in an effort that had it not been for a missed breakaway dunk, would have been perfect.

“Will’s a senior and it was his last time playing in Freeport’s gym, so he came out and played really hard like he usually does and he set the tone for us,” Psyhogeos said.

“I’ll let him slide on that (missed dunk),” Allen said. “Will Cox is a special player. He gives us stability. He slows us down when he needs to, but he also makes great, quick plays when he needs to. He can play in either speed. He does it all for us.”

The Falcons looked to answer in the second period and while they played better, they couldn’t make much of a dent in their deficit.

A leaner from junior Tony Casale opened the frame and ended Yarmouth’s 13-0 run and Freeport’s 7-minute, 3-second drought.

After Casale added a free throw, junior Colby Arsenault drained a 3 for the hosts, but Psyhogeos set up Snyder for a layup to snap the Clippers’ 3:14 drought.

Cockburn countered with his first 3 and after Augur made a 3 for Yarmouth, Cockburn sank another from beyond the stripe to pull the Falcons within 20-14, forcing Allen to call timeout.

The Clippers responded, as Psyhogeos scored on a putback, but with 2:13 to go before halftime, Cockburn set up Arsenault for a layup to again make it a six-point contest.

Then, after Snyder made a layup and Arsenault countered with a jumper, Yarmouth ended the first half in style, as Psyhogeos drove for a layup and junior Matt Waeldner made a layup after a steal for a 28-18 advantage at the break.

In the first 16 minutes, Cockburn had eight points and Arsenault seven for Freeport, but the Clippers forced 11 turnovers and had a balanced attack to open up a double-digit lead.

Psyhogeos then took center stage when the second half commenced.

First, he hit a runner in the lane. Next came an athletic spinner off the glass. After Cox set up Waeldner for a corner 3 after a steal, Psyhogeos made a 3 of his own with 4:31 remaining in the third period and Yarmouth enjoyed a 38-18 lead.

“At halftime, we wanted to focus on our defensive intensity and not let Blaine and Colby get going,” Psyhogeos said. “We harped on that. Our defensive intensity led to some easy baskets in transition. We run our offense in practice every day and preach getting good shots.”

“I pass it to (Peter) and I have faith it’s going in,” Cox said. “It’s awesome playing with him.”

“Pete’s a special player too,” Allen added. “He and Will together on the court give teams problems. They’re both fantastic kids. They both work year-round on their game and most importantly, they’re both role models for the young kids in our town.”

A pair of free throws from Casale ended the Clippers’ 14-0 run and a 5:41 drought, but Cox countered with a putback.

Casale made a layup after a steal and after Psyhogeos set up senior Blake Venden for a layup, junior Keigan Shea knocked down a 3 to pull Freeport within 17, 42-25, heading to the fourth period.

Where Yarmouth was never seriously tested.

A contested leaner from senior Cam Merrill started the frame, but junior Jackson Carr drained a 3 and with 4:25 remaining, senior Elias Thomas scored on a putback to give the Falcons a pulse and cut the deficit to 44-30.

That’s as close as the hosts would get, however, as Waeldner made a layup after a steal while being fouled before adding the and-one free throw to cap an old-fashioned three-point play and Psyhogeos finished with his left hand to stretch the lead back to 19.

After Cockburn scored his final points on an up-and-under layup, Cox set up Merrill for a layup, then passed to Psyhogeos for another layup.

Freeport’s final points came on an Arsenault 3, then junior Ilgren Ishimwe set up junior Jack McGosh for a layup and as time wound down, Ishimwe fed senior Camden Rollins for a layup and Yarmouth celebrated its 57-35 victory.

“Every day in practice, our coaches really push defense,” said Cox. “Our chemistry is awesome this year.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with this group,” Allen said. “They’re a tremendous bunch. Their buy-in is why we’re 4-1. I haven’t changed a whole lot. Their hard work is showing. All the credit in the world to them.”

Pyshogeos didn’t just finish with a game-high 17 points, he also had four rebounds and three assists.

Cox wound up with nine points, seven steals, six rebounds and five assists.

Waeldner scored 10 points and four steals, Snyder had six points and seven rebounds, Augur added five points, Merrill had four (as well as six rebounds and two blocked shots) and McGosh, Rollins and Venden two apiece.

The Clippers had 31 rebounds to the Falcons’ 20, only took (and made) one free throw and committed only 15 turnovers.

Freeport placed two players in double-figures, Arsenault and Cockburn (four assists), who each had 10 points. Casale added seven points, while Carr and Shea both had three and Thomas two (to go with five rebounds and a pair of blocks).

The Falcons gave the ball away 22 times and made just 3-of-6 foul shots.

“Yarmouth plays hard and they’re well-coached,” Ridge said. “They executed a lot of good things. When we made adjustments, it only took them a possession or two to sort things out and continue their run. In the first quarter, we didn’t make shots we should have. We got decent looks, but they weren’t falling. As the game wore on, you could sense frustration start to build.”

Halfway home

The teams play again Thursday in Yarmouth.

“We want to beat teams we play the second time around,” Ridge said. “The first game against each team, we’ll just roll it out there. You never know what rosters will be day to day. We want to make adjustments and beat (Yarmouth) Thursday.”

Freeport is at Mt. Ararat Tuesday, then hosts Cape Elizabeth and closes with a pair of games versus Gray-New Gloucester.

“I don’t have any complaints,” Ridge said. “It’s a unique season, but the guys are taking it seriously. They’re working hard and they’re great teammates to each other. They’ve stayed focused.”

The Clippers host Lake Region Tuesday of next week. Home games against Cape Elizabeth and Greely, sandwiched around a trip to Greely, end the season.

“We want to play the best basketball we can and win every game we can from here on out,” Psyhogeos said.

“I’m just happy to have a season, “Cox said. “We’ll make the most of the rest of our games and give it everything that we’ve got.”

“We’re building a foundation for a future of Yarmouth basketball and this year is another chapter,” Allen added. “The guys know they can build something historic if they leave their print on this program. They’re buying into something even bigger than this year.”

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

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