Deering freshman Shay Rosenthal zips a pass past Falmouth sophomore Sloane Ginevan during the second half of the Yachtsmen’s 50-36 victory Friday. Michael Hoffer / For The Forecaster

BOX SCORE

Falmouth 50 Deering 36

F- 10 13 18 9- 50
D- 4 11 11 10- 36

F- Ginevan 6-2-18, Turgeon 3-3-9, Birks 2-3-8, Lozoraitis 3-0-6, Christman 1-2-4, Welch 1-1-3, Bynion 1-0-2

D- Lia 4-1-12, Greene 3-0-6, Gayle 1-1-4, True-Magee 2-0-4, Rosenthal 2-0-4, Muka 1-1-3, Santiago 1-0-3

3-pointers:
F (5) Ginevan 4, Birks 1
D (5) Lia 3, Gayle, Santiago 1

Turnovers:
F- 9
D- 17

FTs
F: 11-21
D: 3-9

PORTLAND—Falmouth’s girls’ basketball team is young and improving steadily and while the Yachtsmen will be left to wonder just how much they could have accomplished had this been a “normal” season, even bigger things are in store down the road.

The reasons for such optimism were on display Friday afternoon at Deering, as Falmouth led the whole way, got strong contributions from expected sources, plus a huge game from a key reserve, as it won its second game in a row.

Sophomore Anna Turgeon, who missed three games, returned to action and opened the scoring with a layup and by the end of the first quarter, the Yachtsmen had a 10-4 lead.

The Rams tried to stay close, as sophomore Nyabhana Lia drained a couple long 3-pointers, but Falmouth sophomore Sloane Ginevan scored five points in the final minute of the second period and the Yachtsmen took a 23-15 advantage to halftime.

Deering refused to go quietly in the third quarter as well, but with sophomore Katie Lozoraitis scoring six points off the bench and Ginevan closing the frame with consecutive 3-pointers, Falmouth held a comfortable 41-26 lead going to the final stanza.

There, the Yachtsmen were never seriously threatened and they closed out their 50-36 victory.

Ginevan led all scorers with 18 points, Falmouth improved to 2-4 and in the process, dropped Deering to 1-6.

“I can’t even imagine what we’d be like with a full season,” said Yachtsmen coach Dawn Armandi. “We have ‘it.’ I wish we had the regular schedule. The girls learn quick and they want to win.”

Teams on the rise

Deering and Falmouth both have bright futures and both teams are making the most of this unorthodox COVID-19-delayed and abbreviated campaign.

The Rams, who didn’t win a game in 2019-20, started with a pair of losses to South Portland (42-39 away and 38-32 at home), then snapped a 22-game skid with a 54-32 home victory over Cape Elizabeth. A pair of losses to Cheverus (55-31 away and 53-29 at home) followed, then Wednesday, Deering lost at Falmouth, 50-26 (freshman Maya Gayle had a team-high 10 points).

The Yachtsmen, who made a surprising run to the Class A South semifinals last winter, started with two losses to Cheverus, 73-41 at home and 51-35 in Portland, then lost twice to Portland, 51-40, at home and 43-31 away. Wednesday, Falmouth got in the win column for the first time, 50-26, over visiting Deering, as Ginevan scored 25 points and freshman Maddy Christman added nine points with 13 rebounds.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first ever countable matchup between the programs. Friday was the second and it had a similar result.

Turgeon went coast-to-coast for a layup to open the scoring and get back in the swing of things.

“It was good to be back,” said Turgeon. “I was a little rusty, but I was glad to play. That first basket gave me some confidence and got us off to a good start.”

“It’s awesome to have Anna back,” Ginevan said. “I missed her. I’ve played with her since sixth grade. We always look for each other. We have such a great dynamic.”

Ginevan then set up senior Cam Birks for a layup and a 4-0 lead.

After senior Kaylee True-Magee got the Rams on the board with a putback, Ginevan set up senior Lauren Welch for a layup.

Freshman Shay Rosenthal countered with a bank shot to pull Deering within two, but late in the frame, Ginevan scored her first points on a leaner and Christman added two free throws for a 10-4 advantage after eight minutes.

The Rams were hindered by eight first quarter turnovers, but took better care of the ball in the second period and made things interesting before a late surge from Ginevan allowed the Yachtsmen to open up a bigger advantage.

A free throw from Lia opened the quarter, but Ginevan countered with one of her own.

After freshman Natalie Santiago set up classmate Ailyah Greene for a layup, Nia buried a long 3 to pull Deering within a point, 11-10.

Out of a timeout, Ginevan answered with a 3, but at the other end, Lia stepped back and made another long 3 to make it 14-13 Falmouth.

“(Nyabhana) can shoot it when she gets going,” said Deering coach Mike Murphy. “She’s struggled lately, so it was good to see her have some success.”

That’s as close as the Rams would get, however, as Turgeon made a free throw, Turgeon sank a pair, then Ginevan hit one foul shot before Greene answered with a short bank shot to make it 18-15.

Ginevan then made a leaner with 1:04 left in the half and with 15 seconds on the clock, Ginevan buried a 3 and the Yachtsmen took a 23-15 advantage to the break.

Ginevan led all first half scorers with a dozen points. Lia paced Deering with seven.

In the third quarter, Falmouth continued to assert control.

A putback from Turgeon started the second half and after senior Gloria Muka made a free throw for the Rams, Ginevan set up Lozoraitis for a fastbreak layup.

“We’ve played with Katie for a long time and for her to spark us and give us energy really contributed to our win a lot,” Ginevan said.

“Katie’s been a little quiet, but tonight was so good to see,” Armandi said. “I know she has so much potential. She’s grown up with Sloane and Anna. It was nice to see them connect.”

After Muka and Lozoraitis traded putbacks, junior Izzy Bynion hit a jumper, Lozoraitis made another shot and with 3:12 left in the frame, a jumper from freshman Maddy Christman stretched the lead to 35-18.

The Rams answered from long range, as after Greene scored on a putback, Lia and Gayle both made 3s to pull the hosts within nine.

But Ginevan saved her best for last again, making consecutive 3s in the final minute and Falmouth was up, 41-26, heading to the fourth period.

“Not letting (Deering) go on a run was important,” said Ginevan. “We played great as a team. We didn’t get discouraged when they went on a run. We had each other’s back and attacked.”

Turgeon opened the final quarter with a left-handed leaner and after Gayle made a free throw and Santiago hit a 3 for the hosts, Birks answered with a 3 for the Yachtsmen to make the score, 46-30.

Welch added a free throw and after Lia scored on a runner, Birks made two free throws, then with 1:26 to go, she sank one more for Falmouth’s final point.

Down the stretch, True-Magee made a layup for Deering and Rosenthal added another, but the Yachtsmen were able to close out their 50-36 victory.

“It’s awesome to win some games,” Ginevan said. “We started out the season playing some really tough opponents. We have a lot of potential and our team is very talented. It’s nice to get some wins under our belt, especially for our freshmen to experience that. It’s been a really hard year, but it’s really nice to have basketball.”

“We have a young team this year, so it’s been challenging, but we’re working well together and getting to know where everyone is,” Turgeon said.

“It’s nice to see us put some things together,” Armandi added. “We still have a lot to work on, but it’s fun to see the girls get some wins. It’s brought out a lot of spirit. We’ve talked about why we hadn’t been able to close out games. We wanted to control the pace more. The other team can’t score if they don’t have the ball. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better.”

Ginevan led the way for Falmouth with 18 points and also had four assists.

“Sloane is so competitive,” Turgeon said. “We’ve played together for a long time. She just wants to win.”

Turgeon stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists.

“It’s great to have Anna back,” Armandi said. “All the girls screamed and hugged her when they saw her. She means a lot to our team. She’s a hard worker. She deserves everything she achieves.”

Birks tallied eight points, Lozoraitis had six off the bench (to go with four rebounds), Christman added four (and six rebounds), Welch three (to go with six rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists) and Bynion had two.

The Yachtsmen had a 41-38 advantage on the glass, made 11-of-21 free throws and only turned the ball over nine times.

Deering was paced by Lia’s 12 points. Greene added six points and six rebounds, Gayle (five boards), Rosenthal and True-Magee (six rebounds) had four points apiece and Muka and Santiago three each.

The Rams made just 3-of-9 free throws and committed 17 turnovers.

“We were flat the other night, but we played with spirit today,” Murphy said. “I’m pleased with the effort, we just have to put the ball in basket more than we have.  As I told the kids, we were upset the other night because we’re better than what we showed. Today, we took some steps forward.”

Deering’s three seniors, Muka, True-Magee and Grayson Soldati were honored with their parents following the game.

“They’re great kids,” Murphy said. “It hasn’t been easy for them, but they were on the floor with us as sophomores in a (regional) final. They have a nice future ahead of them off the court. It was nice to see them be active today and help us make it a game.”

Short and sweet

The 2021 season is in its final days and both teams will look to squeeze the most out of every opportunity.

Deering plays Portland twice next week, Tuesday away and Thursday at home, then closes at Scarborough March 13.

“We have some tough games to end,” said Murphy. “We can only get better for it. We knew going in, we’d have a tough 10-game schedule. Playing a Portland team that would probably be in a regional final will help us for next year.”

Falmouth is right back in action Saturday, when it hosts powerhouse Greely (see pressherald.com/forecaster-sports/ for game story).

“I’m super-excited to play Greely,” Ginevan said.

“It will be nice to see where we fall tomorrow,” said Armandi. “That game will tell us a lot.”

The Yachtsmen close next week with two games against South Portland, Monday on the road and Wednesday at home.

Then, they can begin to look ahead to next year.

“We have a lot of freshmen in the program and that’s phenomenal,” said Ginevan. “To have such a young program will allow us to develop. When we’re the upperclassmen, we’ll have a lot of varsity experience.”

“I think we have a really bright future,” Turgeon said. “We only lose two seniors and our freshmen are really athletic.”

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

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