BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 57 Freeport 42

F- 15 8 12 7- 42
Y- 9 16 14 18- 57

F- Cockburn 4-3-12, T. Casale 3-4-10, Arsenault 2-0-5, D. Casale 2-0-5, Pound 2-1-5, Shea 1-0-3, Slocum 1-0-2

Y- Psyhogeos 7-6-23, Waeldner 5-2-14, Snyder 2-3-7, Kamm 2-0-5, Hagedorn 1-0-3, Hamm 1-1-3, O’Meara 1-0-2

3-pointers:
F (4) Arsenault, D. Casale, Cockburn, Shea 1
Y (7) Psyhogeos 3, Waeldner 2, Hagedorn, Kamm 1

Turnovers:
F- 22
Y- 12

FTs
F: 8-10
Y: 12-21

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YARMOUTH—Mired in a slump and feeling like the road team on its homecourt, Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team had its share of obstacles to overcome Saturday afternoon when it hosted Freeport at John C. Stroud Gymnasium.

But these Clippers are accustomed to rising to the occasion and thanks to contributors expected and unexpected, they managed to overcome and return to the win column.

The Falcons came out with great energy and raced to a 15-9 lead after quarter and stayed on top until the waning seconds of the first half.

That’s when Yarmouth senior Matt Waeldner sparked his team with five points in 30 seconds, punctuated by a layup at the horn, to give the Clippers a 25-23 halftime advantage.

Freeport twice drew even in the third quarter, but senior Cole Snyder’s layup gave Yarmouth the lead for good. The Falcons then appeared to have momentum heading for the fourth period, when senior Blaine Cockburn was fouled on a 3-pointer at the horn and made all three attempts to make it 39-35, but the Clippers closed the game strong, going on a 9-0 run to break it open before putting the finishing touches on a 57-42 victory that was much closer than the final score indicated.

Yarmouth got 23 points from senior standout Peter Pyshogeos, even if nothing came easily for him, as well as 14 from Waeldner, combined with several other clutch performances, as it improved to 13-2 on the season and dropped Freeport to 9-6 in the process.

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“We definitely needed this win,” said Waeldner. “We needed to find our rhythm. Freeport’s been playing great basketball, so they’re a great team to bounce back against.”

Opposite directions

The teams entered play Saturday a study in contrasts, with the Falcons on a four-game surge and the Clippers on a two-game skid.

Freeport opened with close losses at Gray-New Gloucester (67-62) and at home to Morse (46-45), then defeated visiting Fryeburg Academy (49-41), host Greely (70-58, in overtime), host Lake Region (61-54), visiting Poland (79-56) and visiting Mt. Ararat (57-25) before its five-game win streak was snapped with a 44-36 setback at Wells. The Falcons then lost at Cape Elizabeth, 78-57, and at home to Yarmouth (57-31). Freeport then started another win streak with a 52-46 victory at Brunswick before downing visiting Cape Elizabeth (71-57), its first win over the Capers since Dec. 18, 2007 (snapping an 18-game skid in the series), and beating host Waynflete (45-38) and visiting Gray-New Gloucester (59-49).

Yarmouth had a perfect first half of the regular season, starting with a 55-54 home win over visiting York in overtime in the opener. The Clippers then held on for a 48-38 win at Lake Region before downing host Mt. Ararat, 53-29, visiting Westbrook (62-48), host Wells (45-34), visiting Fryeburg Academy (52-32), visiting Greely (40-30), visiting Leavitt (48-24) and host Waynflete (57-25). Yarmouth was then beaten by visiting Lake Region, 35-32, in a game it was without Psyhogeos, but it bounced back with a 57-31 victory at Freeport, then won at Brunswick (50-31) and Gray-New Gloucester (47-32) before falling at Greely, 51-41, and at Cape Elizabeth (58-55) Tuesday. Against the Capers, the Clippers were without coach Jonas Allen, who was out sick.

“I was following that game on Twitter all night and I was on an emotional roller-coaster, so just to be back means everything to me,” Allen said. “We always talk about not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone and that was me. It’s great to be back with the guys.”

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In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 21, Psyhogeos scored 23 points as the Clippers won easily.

Saturday, Freeport, in front of a vocal crowd, threatened to turn the tables for much of the afternoon, but Yarmouth saved its best for last and took care of business to make it four straight in the series.

Yarmouth senior Aiden Kamm defends Freeport senior Keigan Shea early in the Clippers’ 57-42 victory Saturday. Hoffer photos.

The Falcons made an immediate statement, as senior Keigan Shea opened the game with a 3-pointer, off a pass from Cockburn, then Cockburn set up senior Danny Casale for another 3 for a quick 6-0 advantage.

The Clippers got on the board on a 3-ball from senior Aiden Kamm, but Cockburn set up senior Colby Arsenault for a layup to make it 8-3.

Yarmouth battled back within one on two free throws from Psyhogeos and a Psyhogeos layup after a Waeldner steal, but Arsenault countered with a 3 and after Kamm set up Psyhogeos for a layup, senior Tony Casale took a pass from Shea and made a layup, then Tony Casale made a layup after his own steal to produce a 15-9 advantage after eight minutes.

Freeport had gotten the jump, but the Clippers hung tough behind six points, three rebounds and two steals from Psyhogeos.

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Psyhogeos started the second period with a 3-pointer from the corner and after Falcons senior Nate Abbott set up sophomore JT Pound for a layup, junior Nate Hagedorn made a 3 to pull Yarmouth within two, 17-15.

Danny Casale then took a pass from Tony Casale and made a layup, but Waeldner countered with a driving bank shot.

Cockburn set up sophomore Connor Slocum for a layup, but Waeldner answered with a 3.

After Tony Casale made two free throws, Waeldner hit a 3 with 31 seconds to go in the half to tie it, then, as time wound down, Waeldner stole the ball and raced in and made a layup just as the horn sounded to give the Clippers their first advantage, 25-23, at the break.

“That first half was filled with energy and I just try to play with energy myself,” said Waeldner. “We needed that shot. I peeked up at the scoreboard and prayed I got (the shot off in time). That got us fired up.”

“We felt like Freeport came out and flat-out punched us in the face, so to go into the half with a lead gave our guys confidence,” Allen said.

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“That took the air out of us,” lamented Freeport first-year coach Tyler Tracy. “Basketball’s a game of runs and that was a spark for them. I told the guys we had a good first half, but we still came out flat in the second half.”

Waeldner had 10 points, three assists and a pair of steals in the first half and Yarmouth forced nine turnovers.

The Clippers had all the momentum entering the second half, but Freeport managed to hang tough.

Yarmouth senior Matt Waeldner defends Freeport senior Blaine Cockburn.

A jump shot from Cockburn tied the score early in the half and after Psyhogeos set up Kamm for a layup, he set up Snyder for another, Tony Casale put home a miss and Cockburn made a layup to make it 29-29 with 4:51 to go in the frame.

A mere 38 seconds later, Yarmouth went ahead to stay, as Waeldner found Snyder for a layup. Psyhogeos spun for a layup to add to the lead and after Pound hit a leaner, senior Quin O’Meara’s bank shot made it 35-31 Clippers.

Pound got a point back at the line, but Psyhogeos drained a 3 from the corner and sophomore Evan Hamm added a foul shot for the Clippers to seemingly give them a comfortable lead, but at the horn to end the period, Cockburn was fouled while shooting a 3 and he drained all three subsequent free throws to pull the Falcons within just four points, 39-35, heading to the final stanza.

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Where Yarmouth secured its victory.

Twenty-two seconds in, Hamm took a pass from Psyhogeos and made a layup. More than two minutes passed before Psyhogeos sank a 3, then Psyhogeos scored on a runner and with 4:51 left, two Snyder free throws stretched the lead to 48-35.

“We started getting stronger on defense and we started running in transition well,” said Kamm. “Pete and Matt had some great passes on the break and Cole had some awesome rebounds on offense.”

Tony Casale tried to spark a rally with two foul shots, but Psyhogeos answered with two of his own.

After Cockburn made a layup, junior Liam Hickey found Waeldner for a layup for a 52-39 advantage with 1:06 to play.

Freeport’s final points came on a 3-pointer from Cockburn with just under a minute to play, but Psyhogeos sank two free throws, Snyder made one, then Waeldner hit two more to bring the curtain down on the 57-42 victory.

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“I was surprised when (Freeport) came out so strong,” Kamm said. “They’ve improved a lot since we last played them. That’s a good team over there.”

“This was huge,” Allen said. “Freeport had ripped off four in a row. This wasn’t the same team we saw at their place. Freeport went all out. I have nothing but respect for that program, that coach. They can make a run in Class A for sure. They brought their whole town today. It was a road game for us. They brought their student section and we didn’t. They packed our gym and I have nothing but respect for towns that do that and help their teams win. I’ve been battling against Colby and Blaine for years. I can’t tell you how much time we’ve put into scheming for them.”

Psyhogeos was double- and triple-teamed at times and nothing came easily, but he still managed to stuff the stat sheet with a game-high 23 points, as well as eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.

“I think the thing that maybe people don’t understand about Pete is he’s tough,” Allen said. “They see the skill, but he’s ridiculously tough mentally and physically. He gets beaten up and makes a couple mistakes, but it doesn’t bother him and he comes back. We can always count on him.”

“He’s very, very good and he’s smart,” Tracy said, of Psyhogeos. “He did a good job of finding the open cutter. I thought we did a great job making things difficult for him early, but he recognized that and made his teammates better. It’s tough against someone like him.”

Waeldner came up huge when he had to and added 14 points, seven steals, five assists and two rebounds.

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“There’s no other Matt Waeldner,” Allen said. “What he gets out of his body and his dedication to the game, you can’t say enough good things. I’d take Matt as my point guard any day, every day.”

Snyder had seven points and eight rebounds, while Kamm tallied five points.

Kamm, like others, is playing more and bigger minutes now that senior Sutter Augur is out for the season with a hand injury.

“I just try and channel Sutter through my play,” said Kamm. “He brings tons of energy and plays great defense and I try to bring that to the court.”

“Aiden might not come out and score like he did tonight, but he does stuff to help the team, like hounding guys on defense,” Waeldner said. “Everyone’s playing great. We know what all the guys can do at practice. It’s just a matter of time until they get it done in a game.”

Hagedorn and Hamm (six rebounds, two assists and two steals) each scored three points and O’Meara finished with two.

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“You never know who it will be,” Allen said. “We have our obvious main guys and with Sutter out now, other guys have to figure it out and that’s what happened today.”

Yarmouth out-rebounded Freeport, 30-23, only turned the ball over a dozen times and hit 12-of-21 free throws.

Freeport’s offense was paced by Cockburn, who had 12 points, as well as five assists and five rebounds. Tony Casale added 10 points, three assists and three rebounds, Arsenault had five points and five rebounds, Danny Casale five points, Pound five points and three blocked shots, Slocum two points and Shea three points, to go with seven steals and three assists.

“Keigan is why you can’t ever judge how you play by how many points you score,” said Tracy. “It’s the intangibles he brings and the confidence he brings. Everyone sees how hard he works and it changes how we play. He’s had a great year.”

The Falcons made 8-of-10 foul shots, but committed 22 turnovers.

“The first 14 minutes, that’s the basketball we’ve been playing the past few games, but Yarmouth did a good job adjusting and we didn’t respond well to their adjustments,” Tracy said. “What we did the first 14 minutes, we need to stretch that out to 32. We missed a few shots that would have been game-changers and given us energy. It’s a great learning experience for us. The pressure and intensity were tournament pressure and intensity.”

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Drawing closer

Freeport (now third in the Class A South Heal Points standings) hosts Greely in a key showdown Monday, then closes at Fryeburg Academy Thursday.

“We can’t be down about this because we have Greely Monday,” Tracy said. “They’re playing well. We just have to overcome some adversity. I feel great about our team. Things are coming together. We’re playing well, but we just have to do it consistently for 32 minutes and when we get to that point, we’ll be a tough out.”

Yarmouth (ranked second to undefeated Spruce Mountain in Class B South), plays host to Wells Monday, then closes the regular season at home versus Poland Wednesday.

“I think this is a phenomenal group of guys with great chemistry and great coaching,” said Kamm. “I think if we play our game, the sky’s the limit.”

“What we focused on today was getting the ball moving on offense and getting back to our defensive identity and I think if we commit to those two things, we’ll be a dangerous team in the playoffs,” Waeldner said.

“We have a lot to work on between now and the tournament,” added Allen. “Wells had a tough start, but now they’re playing great. I expect a brawl Monday night and I have nothing but respect for them. Poland’s fantastic too. They have one of the best players in the area. There are no easy games on the schedule.

“It’s going to be about who’s healthy and who peaks at the right time. I’d say there’s probably five or six teams, at least, that could make a legitimate run.”

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

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