BOX SCORE

Falmouth 73 Thornton Academy 71

TA- 22 22 16 11- 71
F- 20 19 12 22- 73

TA- Davies 7-2-19, Marcus 6-1-16, Camire 4-0-11, Ruff 4-0-8, McLeer 3-0-7, Jones 2-0-6, Bowker 1-0-2, Stinson 1-0-2

F- Coyne 11-7-31, Stowell 6-5-21, Armstrong 5-1-11, Dilworth 1-2-5, Morrill 1-1-3, Cowperthwaite 1-0-2

3-pointers:
TA (12) Camire, Davies, Marcus 3, Jones 2, McLeer 1
F (7) Stowell 4, Coyne 2, Dilworth 1

Turnovers:
TA- 29
F- 12

FTs
TA: 3-6
F: 16-24

Advertisement

FALMOUTH—This was basketball the way it used to be.

The way it should be.

And what a treat it was.

Friday evening, Falmouth and Thornton Academy’s boys’ teams put on a back-and-forth display of shot-making wizardry in a game that required all 1,920 seconds to determine a winner.

The visiting Golden Trojans sank four 3-pointers in the first quarter, but only clung to a 22-20 lead after junior Will Davies hit a late runner, giving him 10 points in the frame.

There wasn’t much dropoff in the second period either, as four more Thornton Academy 3-balls produced a 44-39 advantage.

Advertisement

The Golden Trojans then threatened to run away and hide in the third quarter, as junior Braden Camire’s 3-pointer stretched the lead to 13, but the Navigators got back within six before senior Michael McLeer banked home a long-range 3 at the horn to make it 60-51.

When Camire scored on a fastbreak layup with 5:58 to play, Thornton Academy was up, 67-54, but Falmouth simply refused to lose and sparked by senior standouts Brady Coyne and Jack Stowell, it rose off the deck for its most inspirational come-from-behind victory in years.

The Navigators were down six with under three minutes to go, but consecutive 3s from Stowell and Coyne tied it up and after the Golden Trojans failed to answer, Falmouth held the ball for the last shot, where Coyne got just the sliver of room he needed and he drove and made a layup with 1.4 seconds on the clock to produce an inspirational 73-71 victory.

Coyne finished with a game-high 31 points as the Navigators improved to 10-1 and in the process, dropped Thornton Academy to 9-4.

“It was pretty intense,” Coyne said. “When we were down it wasn’t fun, but we battled back, which is what great teams do. It’s great having games like this. We needed a good win like this against a good team.”

Big step

Advertisement

Falmouth opened with lopsided wins over visiting Biddeford (84-40), host Kennebunk (91-69) and visiting Marshwood (64-46), then met its match in Class AA favorite South Portland, falling on the road, 58-41. The Navigators then rebounded and defeated visiting Brunswick (93-55), host Mt. Ararat (93-52) and visiting Gorham (74-47) before having games versus Morse, Greely, Marshwood and Westbrook postponed during their COVID pause. Last Friday, Falmouth returned to action with a 47-44 loss at Portland, but this week, the Navigators handled host Marshwood (57-49) and Brunswick (90-46) to get back on track.

Thornton Academy opened with a 56-47 win at Massabesic, then handled visiting Scarborough (58-28), host Noble (70-34) and host Bonny Eagle (67-61). After a 57-53 home loss to South Portland, the Golden Trojans beat host Gorham (69-48), visiting Windham (60-55) and host Scarborough (55-42), then lost at Portland (45-36). Thornton Academy bounced back in a resounding way by handing host South Portland its first loss, 58-53, before holding off visiting Gorham (63-61) and losing at home to Sanford (60-59).

The teams last met Jan. 15, 2019, a 51-47 home win for the Navigators. Falmouth also beat Thornton Academy in Saco, 45-41, in 2018.

Friday, fans (and media) could barely come up for air as play went back-and-forth before the Navigators got it done at the horn.

Falmouth junior Judd Armstrong and Thornton Academy senior Cody Ruff get things started with the opening tip. Hoffer photos.

It actually took over a minute-and-a-half for the scoring ice to be broken, as Coyne stole the ball, passed to Stowell and Stowell set up junior Judd Armstrong for a layup.

The Golden Trojans then got on the board when junior Aleesio Marcus hinted at a big night to come with a 3-ball and senior Cody Ruff followed with a putback.

Advertisement

Coyne drove for a layup and his first points, but Davies made a 3 for an 8-4 advantage.

Stowell scored his first points on a layup, but Marcus countered with a 3 from the corner.

After Stowell got a jumper to rattle home, Davies drove for a layup. Stowell then made two of three free throws, but Davies made a long 3 for a 16-10 lead.

After Stowell drained a contested 3, senior Cody Bowker made a floater for Thornton Academy, but Coyne hit a free throw, Coyne made a layup after a steal and Coyne stole the ball again (his fifth pilfer of the quarter) and made another layup to tie it, 18-18, forcing Golden Trojans coach Bob Davies to call timeout.

It didn’t help initially, as Armstrong made a layup, but in the waning seconds of a wild first quarter, Will Davies set up senior Nick Stinson for a layup to tie it, then Davies made a runner after a steal for his ninth and 10th points and a 22-20 lead.

The second period would be more of the same.

Advertisement

After Stowell set up junior Eli Cowperthwaite for a layup to tie it 24 seconds in, Davies put Thornton Academy back on top with two free throws.

Coyne tied it with a jumper, but Marcus set up Ruff for a layup and after a free throw from Falmouth senior Zach Morrill, Camire found Marcus for a layup and a 28-25 lead.

Armstrong countered with a runner, but Ruff scored on a putback.

Again, the Navigators pulled within a point on a contested bank shot from Coyne, but McLeer scored on a putback to make it 32-29.

Stowell tied the game with a 3-ball from the corner, but Davies answered with a long 3 of his own before junior Anthony Jones added another 3-pointer to put the visitors up by six.

Late in the half, Armstrong scored on a putback, then Armstrong made a layup after a steal to cut the deficit to two, but Jones made another 3 and after junior Lucas Dilworth made a 3 for Falmouth, Marcus hit a 3 for Thornton Academy to put his team ahead, 44-39, at the break.

Advertisement

In the first 16 minutes, Davies had 15 points and Marcus added 11, but the Navigators hung tough behind 13 points from Coyne and 10 apiece from Armstrong and Stowell.

Thornton Academy started quickly in the second half, as Morris made a jumper and Davies hit a floater.

Coyne answered with an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw), but Camire hit a 3, Morris made a foul shot and with 6:06 to go in the third period, after a Bowker offensive rebound, Camire buried a 3 to make it 55-42, forcing longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan to call timeout.

It helped, as Coyne set up Stowell for a layup and after a Morris putback, Stowell was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and made all three subsequent shots.

After Ruff was whistled for his third foul, Stowell managed to tip the ball out to Coyne for a 3, then Armstrong added a free throw.

But the Golden Trojans finished the frame strong, as McLeer raced over midcourt with time winding down, let loose a shot and watched it kiss off the glass and in to give Thornton Academy a 60-51 advantage heading to the final stanza.

Advertisement

Where the game would come down to the final play.

Stowell started the fourth with a 3, but Morris set up Davies for a layup, Camire sank a 3 and with 5:58 remaining, Davies fed Camire for a layup on the fastbreak for a seemingly safe 67-54 advantage.

For most teams, that would have been the backbreaker, but Falmouth regrouped and produced a rally for the ages.

The comeback started with two Coyne free throws. Coyne was then fouled while shooting a 3 and added three more foul shots before Morrill spun while being tightly defended and somehow willed the ball in to make the score 67-61 with 4:49 still to go.

After Stowell missed a 3 to make it a one-possession game, Davies set up Ruff for a layup to push the lead back to eight with 3:34 on the clock.

Just nine seconds later, however, Coyne drove for a layup and after Dilworth missed two foul shots, he stole the ball back, was fouled again (Ruff’s fifth) and this time, he sank both attempts to cut the deficit to 69-65 with 2:55 left.

Advertisement

Eight seconds later, McLeer answered with a bank shot, but that would be it for Thornton Academy’s offense.

Falmouth, meanwhile, had plenty left.

With 2:37 to go, Coyne drew the defense, then fed Stowell for a 3-ball.

The Navigators then got the ball back and with 2:13 remaining, Morrill passed to an open Coyne up top, who calmly sank a 3-pointer to tie the score for the sixth and final time, 71-71.

“We never panicked,” Coyne said. “We can put up 10 points really quick with our scorers on the team.”

Davies was then fouled and had a chance to put the Golden Trojans back on top, but he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Advertisement

Falmouth couldn’t take advantage, however, as Morrill was called for an offensive foul at the other end.

Thornton Academy promptly gave the ball back with 1:02 left and that was all the Navigators needed.

After milking the clock under a minute, a half-minute, 10 seconds, then five, Coyne made his move down the left side and with Morrill clearing space to give him room (too much room if you asked the Golden Trojans), Coyne got to the hoop and laid the ball up and in.

Just before the final horn, Falmouth senior Brady Coyne makes the winning layup.

“We just wanted run the clock down and get one more shot,” said Coyne. “It came to me having the ball and attacking the rim. Zach did a great job sealing his man and I saw a lane at the end. I knew there were only two seconds left when I shot it, so I knew when I made it, they wouldn’t get a shot.”

“I thought about taking a timeout, but we knew what we wanted to do,” Halligan said. “We’ve practiced it. We have veterans and big-time players step up and Brady’s a big-time player. It was a designed play with options off it. Once he beat his man, he got to the rim.”

The horn quickly sounded and at 8:17 p.m., Falmouth was able to celebrate its 73-71 victory.

Advertisement

The postgame celebration.

“We turned it up on defense and focused on offense and got things moving,” Coyne said.

“I just told the kids it was nerve-wracking to watch, but it was fun at the end,” Halligan said. “There’s no quit in these kids. This is why you play games like this and teams like this. I’ve seen Thornton a number of times this year and I thought they played one of their better games. They’re a very good team.

“We had to make adjustments. Good teams adjust and I thought our kids did a good job adjusting to the conditions tonight. Defense will keep us in the game if things aren’t going well on offense. We did a better job attacking the rim tonight. That’s why you play to the end, all 32 minutes. We extended our defense and we didn’t allow them to pick us apart. We put pressure on the ball. This is one of the bigger wins we’ve had in awhile.”

Coyne wasn’t just sensational on offense, scoring 31 points, he also had seven steals, three rebounds and two assists.

“I just tried to play as hard as I could on defense,” said Coyne. “In these big games, defense is what wins.”

Stowell went off for 21 points, four assists and three steals. Armstrong also wound up in double figures with 11 points. Dilworth had five points and three steals, producing invaluable minutes off the bench.

Advertisement

“Lucas was like an offensive lineman,” Halligan said. “He’s undersized, but he did all the dirty work.”

Morrill had three points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals and Cowperthwaite wound up with two points.

Falmouth turned the ball over 12 times and hit 16-of-24 free throws.

Thornton Academy’s effort was paced by Davies, who had 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Marcus added a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds and also had three assists and a couple blocks. Camire had 11 points, Ruff eight and six rebounds before fouling out, McLeer seven, Jones six and Bowker (three assists, three rebounds) and Stinson (seven rebounds, two blocks) two apiece.

The Golden Trojans enjoyed a 36-21 rebound advantage, but turned the ball over 29 times and only got to the line for six free throw attempts, sinking just three.

“We fouled a couple shooters and they made foul shots and we turned it over and they capitalized,” lamented Bob Davies. “That’s high school basketball. That happens. We played well. We just had a couple bad breaks. It’s a regular season game. We’re not getting beat by a lot. We’re a good team. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and tonight, we lost.”

Advertisement

Busy stretch run

Thornton Academy is back in action Tuesday at home versus Massabesic, then the Golden Trjoans have a home showdown/rematch of the 2020 Class AA state final versus Edward Little next Friday.

Falmouth, meanwhile, has four games in five days next week, hosting Mt. Ararat Tuesday, welcoming Morse Wednesday, then going to Biddeford Friday and Greely Saturday.

“This is a great booster for us,” said Coyne. “Winning against a good team will help us focus the rest of the season and get ready for playoffs.”

“This is a good sign to beat a good Class AA team,” Halligan said. “For us to come back against a team like this builds our confidence with eight games coming up in the next two weeks.”

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

Comments are not available on this story.