Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team celebrates after beating York, 55-54, in overtime, in Friday’s season opener. Hoffer photos.

BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 55 York 54 (OT)

York- 9 15 13 15 2- 54
Yarm- 13 21 9 9 3- 55

York-  Burke 7-3-17, Frazier 6-2-14, Parker 4-0-11, Forbes 3-0-6, Fogg 1-0-3, Regis 1-0-3

Yarm- Psyhogeos 14-3-32, Waeldner 7-3-19, Augur 1-0-2, Dawes 1-0-2

3-pointers:
York (5) Parker 3, Fogg, Regis 1
Yarm (3) Waeldner 2, Psyhogeos 1

Turnovers:
York- 11
Yarm- 14

FTs
York: 5-12
Yarm: 6-14

YARMOUTH—Now this was worth the wait.

Friday evening at Jack Stroud Gymnasium, playing in a game with meaning, in front of fans, the Yarmouth and York boys’ basketball teams put on a show in the season opener.

And more than 32 minutes were required to determine a victor.

The Clippers, entering the year with high hopes, appeared primed for an easy victory when they got 23 first half points from senior standout Peter Psyhogeos and rode a 21-4 run to a 29-13 advantage, but the proud and always-tough Wildcats settled in and cut the deficit to 34-24 at halftime.

York then held Psyhogeos somewhat in check the rest of the way and gradually got back in the game, pulling within 43-37 after three periods, then coming all the way to tie it, 52-52, on a 3-point shot from Trevor Parker with 1:06 remaining.

The game would go to overtime and after a Psyhogeos free throw, the Wildcats took their first lead since the first quarter, when junior Kevin Burke made a layup, but with 2:56 left in OT, senior Matt Waeldner sank a pair of foul shots to put Yarmouth on top for good.

The Clippers then put on the clamps defensively and held on for dear life when senior JP Frazier’s last-second 3 was off-target, allowing Yarmouth to prevail, 55-54.

Psyhogeos had a game-high 32 points, Waeldner added 19 and the Clippers opened their season with a win and handed York a tough loss in the process.

“Obviously, a win like this feels great and everyone’s really excited, but at the end of the day, it’s just game one,” said Yarmouth coach Jonas Allen. “We’re just looking to improve. We’ll return to the court tomorrow morning to learn and get better.”

Returning to normal

The last time Yarmouth played in front of home fans, the date was Feb. 4, 2020.

York’s last game in front of a crowd was when it lost the Class A state game to Hampden Academy the end of that month.

COVID-19 then arrived in full force in March of 2020 and nothing has been the same since.

Last winter, the season was first delayed, then abbreviated and there were no fans in gyms and no postseason whatsoever.

That was unfortunate for many reasons, but from the Clippers’ perspective, they were dismayed because they might have made a title run. Yarmouth did go 8-2 in limited action and with some top talent returning, expects to be in the mix in Class B South all season.

York, meanwhile, has dropped back down to Class B this winter and as always, the Wildcats should be one of the league’s top squads.

The teams last met on Jan. 24, 2020, an 82-53 home win for York.

Friday, the Wildcats looked for their fourth straight win in the series, but instead, by the skin of their teeth, the Clippers beat the Wildcats for the first time since Jan. 27, 2015 (73-67 in York).

Yarmouth senior Cole Snyder and York junior Kevin Burke soar for the opening tip of the 2021-22 season.

Psyhogeos set the tone just 43 seconds in when he drove for a layup and the season’s first points.

Burke countered with a layup, then Frazier stole the ball and raced in for a resounding dunk for York’s first lead.

After Psyhogeos tied the score with a floater, junior Jake Fogg knocked down a 3 to make it 7-4 Wildcats.

Psyhogeos answered with a driving layup and a leaner, but with 2:13 to go in the opening stanza, Frazier fed Burke for a layup and a 9-8 York advantage.

Yarmouth then embarked on a big run to seemingly take control.

A driving layup from Waeldner produced the Clippers’ first non-Psyhogeos points and more importantly, put the hosts ahead.

Psyhogeos added a free throw, then, just before the horn, Psyhogeos’ contested leaner rattled in and Yarmouth was up, 13-9, thanks to 11 points from its standout.

Yarmouth senior Peter Psyhogeos drives past the York defense en route to two of his 32 points.

Psyhogeos had an even higher scoring second period, which he started with a driving layup. Senior Sutter Augur added a layup, then Psyhogeos set up Waeldner for a layup to make it 19-9.

A driving layup from Burke ended the 15-2 surge, but Psyhogeos scored on a putback while being fouled and added the and-one free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play and after Frazier made a layup for York, Psyhogeos drove for a layup and hit a leaner before a 3-point shot from Waeldner with 3:32 remaining in the half put the Clippers ahead by a 29-13 margin, capping the 21-4 run.

York coach Jerry Hill called timeout and the Wildcats began to slowly cut into the deficit.

First, Frazier made a layup while being fouled before completing the three-point play. Parker then banked home a 3-ball, Burke made a layup, then Burke hit a free throw with 1:14 to go before the break to make it a 29-22 contest.

Psyhogeos answered with a 3-point shot, but Frazier made a free throw. After a layup from Yarmouth sophomore Justin Dawes, Burke made a foul shot and the score at halftime was 34-24.

Psyhogeos had 23 points, nearly outscoring the opposition on his own.

“My teammates were finding me in good spots,” Psyhogeos said. “Big shout out to them. They gave me great passes. Coach Allen drew up great plays to get me a good spot to score.”

Burke had 10 points and Frazier eight for York, which was still within hailing distance.

The Wildcats would cut into the deficit in the third period.

Waeldner opened the second half with a pretty up-and-under layup.

“When Pete comes out and scores 23 points in the first half, it’s easy to get easy looks in the second,” Waeldner said.

Parker sank a 3 for York before Waeldner drove for a layup, but Burke countered with one of his own.

After a Psyhogeos layup gave the Clippers their final double-digit advantage, 40-29, York closed the frame on an 8-3 run, as Frazier banked home a shot and after Waeldner made one free throw, Parker banked home a shot on a drive and Frazier made a jumper.

Psyhogeos restored a little order with a spinner in traffic, but heading to the fourth quarter, Yarmouth’s lead was a tenuous 43-37.

Psyhogeos was held to just four points in the third period.

“We know (Psyhogeos) is a very good player,” Hill said. “We wanted to keep him from getting the ball and if he got the ball, we had to keep him from going left and make him go right. We did a much better job of that in the second half.”

The Wildcats completed their comeback in the final stanza.

Psyhogeos began the fourth quarter with a driving layup, but junior Ty Regis countered with a 3 for York and after Regis kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound, sophomore Haydn Forbes’ jumper pulled the visitors within a single possession, 45-42.

Waeldner pushed the lead back to five with a driving layup, but Forbes banked home a shot, then with 5:20 to play, Burke’s layup cut the Clippers’ advantage to a single point, 47-46.

After a Yarmouth timeout, Waeldner countered with a clutch 3, but Frazier found Forbes for a layup and with 4:39 on the clock, the Clippers clung to a 50-48 advantage.

After Forbes missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer, Psyhogeos scored on a leaner in traffic with 2:43 to go to make it a four-point game.

But still, York refused to fold and after Forbes and Frazier missed shots, the Wildcats forced a turnover, then Burke was fouled and hit the first of two free throws with 1:11 left.

Burke missed the second attempt, but Frazier snared the rebound, fed Parker and Parker knocked down a long 3 to tie it, 52-52, with 1:06 to go.

Waeldner then had a chance to put the Clippers back on top when he was fouled with 37.9 seconds remaining, but his first free throw attempt was long and the second was short and Regis’ rebound gave the Wildcats an opportunity to win it.

York ran the clock down to 11 seconds, then called timeout.

Burke then tried to drive and win it, but Waeldner stole the ball and the contest would go to overtime.

“We had a play set, but it never really came to be,” Hill said.

In high school basketball, overtime consists of a four-minute session and all 240 seconds would be necessary to crown a winner.

“We said nothing matters, just go out and win four minutes,” Allen said.

Yarmouth won the opening tip and just two seconds into OT, Psyhogeos was fouled. He made his first attempt, but missed the second.

Then, with 3:21 on the clock, off an inbounds set, Frazier found an open Burke for a layup and the Wildcats had a 54-53 lead, their first since way back in the first quarter when the score was 9-8.

The lead only lasted 25 seconds, as Waeldner was again fouled and after being off-target late in regulation, he was spot-on this time, sinking both free throw attempts for a 55-54 advantage.

“My teammates encouraged me after I missed those free throws earlier and I just found a way to get them in,” said Waeldner.

“Matt’s a great free throw shooter, so I was confident with him there,” said Psyhogeos.

Compounding matters for York, Burke had to sit the remainder of the game with a leg injury.

No one would have suspected there would be no more scoring, but that’s exactly what played out, although ample drama remained.

After Parker missed a 3 for the Wildcats, senior Cole Snyder snared the rebound for Yarmouth, but the Clippers turned the ball over.

Yarmouth sophomore Evan Hamm, who was terrific off the bench, then blocked Frazier’s shot.

The Clippers hoped to add to the lead, but Augur’s 3 was off.

At the other end, Frazier missed a 3 and Psyhogeos got the rebound.

Yarmouth returned to offense and with 52.7 seconds to go, Snyder was fouled, but he missed both free throws and after a held ball allowed the Clippers to keep possession, Waeldner missed a runner and York had one final chance.

Out of a timeout, not surprisingly, the Wildcats turned to Frazier to win it.

With time winding down, Fogg passed to Frazier, who, well beyond the 3-point arc, with Hamm lunging to alter his motion, lofted a shot that was just off-target.

“JP is our best player,” Hill said. “We wanted him to have the ball and take a shot, but unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

Snyder grabbed the rebound and at 8:34 p.m., after 90 real-time minutes and 36 minutes of game action, Yarmouth finally able to celebrate its 55-54 victory.

“We were thinking we had to get the stop,” Psyhogeos said. “We forced (Frazier) into a difficult shot. It looked good from my angle, but I wanted to get in position for the rebound. Shout out to Cole for grabbing a really strong rebound and securing the win. I think we worked hard. We were optimistic and came out and worked hard in overtime. We knew if we got stops defensively, the offense would take care of itself. Before the game, Coach told us we’d be faced with adversity and it was going to be how do we respond to it and punch back. In the first half, we didn’t face much adversity. We came out hot, then in the second half, they came back and that was the adversity we faced. We needed to wake up.”

“Evan really clutched up for us on defense,” said Waeldner. “JP is a good player and Evan got the stop at the end there. Our saying in practice is ‘Chemistry and Toughness’ and we stuck to that and found a way to win. That’s what you have to do sometimes when things are getting sloppy. This is big. York’s a tough team. This helps with Heal Points.”

“We knew where the ball would go,” Allen added. “Evan played an unbelievable defensive game for us. With his length, he can be just enough to adjust a shot. He’s a special defensive player. We tried to make it hard, but JP’s shot could have gone in. We got lucky at the end. A great player almost made an incredible shot.”

Psyhogeos was limited to nine points in the game’s final 20 minutes, but he still easily led all scorers with 32 points. Psyhogeos also had eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.

“Pete decided a little while back that he wants to be great,” Allen said. “He’s committed to play at Bates next year. The NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) is an unbelievable league and he decided he wants to play at that level. He’s put in the work to make it happen and to make what you saw tonight possible.”

Waeldner quietly put together a terrific game as well, scoring 19 points, while also grabbing four rebounds.

“Matt’s tough as nails,” said Allen. “Anyone with his build shouldn’t be as good as he is, but he’s willed his way to be this good since he was little. When I took over the program when he was a freshman, I really didn’t know if he’d contribute at the varsity level. Not only does he contribute, but he’s one of our key guys.”

Augur and Dawes both added two points and while Hamm didn’t score, he did have seven boards and a pair of critical blocked shots.

“It was awesome to have everyone on the team contribute, on the court, on the bench,” said Waeldner.

Yarmouth had a 33-28 rebounding advantage and overcame 14 turnovers and 6-of-14 foul shooting.

The Clippers felt that having energetic fans on hand helped them prevail.

“I haven’t played in a gym with fans since my sophomore year,” said Psyhogeos. “Even then, it was different than today. The fans were loud and supportive and it gave us so much energy.”

“Fans change everything, the intensity of game,” Allen said. “Last year, I was literally talking the guys through everything, but now, there’s no way they can hear me. We have to adjust to that. Overwhelmingly, it’s a positive thing. The kids love playing in front of their buddies and their families. It’s a different level of adrenaline. It feels like high school basketball is back.”

Building block

York got 17 points, six rebounds, three blocks, three steals and a pair of assists from Burke before he was sidelined.

“That (injury) was big, because (Kevin) rebounds for us and plays good D and can get to the basket,” said Hill.

Frazier finished with 14 points, six assists and six rebounds.

Parker also finished in double-digits with 11 points, Forbes added six (to go with four boards) and Fogg and Regis (five rebounds) both had three.

The Wildcats only turned the ball over 11 times, but hit just 5-of-12 free throws.

“We’re a young team and we’re learning to play together and learning to jell, but I’m really proud of how we came back,” Hill said. “We had opportunities to win the game. I give Yarmouth a lot of credit. They’re very good. It was a tough game on both sides.”

“York is so good,” Allen said. “They’re tough and they’re really good. I give all the credit in the world to them. I think Jerry’s an unbelievable coach. We feel very fortunate to win that game. They looked like they were down, but they stormed back with confidence.

Just getting started

York stays on the road Tuesday to take on Marshwood, then plays its home opener next Friday versus Cape Elizabeth.

This fine team has much to look forward to this winter.

“The fact we fought back and showed we can run our offense well and play good defense, I’m very encouraged,” Hill said. “We’ll take this and build on it and be better.”

Yarmouth, meanwhile, is off until next Friday, when it goes to Lake Region. The Clippers have a long way to go, but the pieces are in place.

“We have a week until our next game,’ Psyhogeos said. “Tonight exposed some things we need to work on in practice. Hopefully we’ll keep working. It’s good to be tested early in the season and get brought back down to Earth.”

“We need to do a better job adjusting to changing defenses,” Allen said. “We got a taste of the level of toughness we’re going to need to play to the rest of the way.”

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

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