BOX SCORE

Falmouth 70 Fryeburg Academy 34

FA- 7 13 7 7- 34
F-23 17 17 13- 70

FA- W. Hallam 2-5-9, B. Hallam 2-2-7, Daiu 2-0-4, Quinn 2-0-4, Vlug 2-0-4, Johnson 1-0-3, Zerner 1-0-3

F- Armstrong 8-0-18, Stowell 7-0-17, Morrill 4-3-12, Coyne 3-4-11, L. Dilworth 2-0-4, Simonds 2-0-4, Walker 1-0-3, P. Dilworth 0-1-1

3-pointers:
FA (3) B. Hallam, Johnson, Zerner 1
F (8) Stowell 3, Armstrong 2, Coyne, Jackman, Morrill 1

Turnovers:
FA- 22
F- 6

FTs
FA: 7-8
F: 8-13

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PORTLAND—Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team continues to make it look oh so easy.

The top-ranked Navigators made quick work of No. 5 Fryeburg Academy in a Class A South semifinal Wednesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, as the defense forced an abundance of turnovers, which helped the team’s potent and balanced offense get easy hoop after easy hoop.

The Raiders hung tough for four minutes and were only down by two points, 7-5, but the Navigators flipped the switch and closed the first quarter on a 16-2 run to lead, 23-7, as senior Jack Stowell and junior Judd Armstrong each scored nine points in the frame.

While Falmouth’s big men, Zach Morrill and Chris Simonds, were keeping Fryeburg Academy junior post standout Will Hallett in check, the Navigators led by as many as 21 points in the second period before taking a 39-20 advantage to the half.

By the end of the third quarter, Falmouth was up by 30, 57-27, and from there, the Navigators locked up an emphatic and impressive 70-34 victory.

Armstrong led the way with 18 points, Stowell added 17, Morrill had a dozen and senior Brady Coyne contributed 11 as Falmouth improved to 18-2, ended Fryeburg Academy’s season at 11-10 and advanced to take on No. 3 Marshwood (14-5) in the Class A South Final, tentatively scheduled for Friday at 8:45 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.

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“We just prepared well as a team,” said Morrill. “We were locked in this week in practice and we came in here ready to play. We don’t underestimate anybody. We’re not really worried about winning. We just worry about doing our job.”

Methodical

Falmouth’s boys have run roughshod over the opposition most of the winter, losing only to top Class AA contenders Portland and South Portland. In the quarterfinals, the Navigators had no trouble with No. 9 Westbrook, pulling away for a 59-39 victory (see sidebar for links to previous stories).

Fryeburg Academy, meanwhile, has enjoyed its deepest tournament advancement since the Reagan Administration, going .500 during the regular season before eliminating No. 12 Mt. Ararat (53-39) in the preliminary round and fourth-seeded Gray-New Gloucester (66-55) in the quarterfinals.

The teams didn’t meet this season.

Falmouth had won both previous playoff encounters with the Raiders, beating them in the 1982 Western B preliminary round (64-36) and again in the 2005 Western B quarterfinals (40-20).

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Wednesday, the Navigators again rolled to a decisive win.

Falmouth’s Zach Morrill defends Fryeburg Academy’s Bobby Hallam during the Navigators’ 70-34 victory in Wednesday’s Class A South semifinal. Hoffer photos.

Stowell drove for a layup 56 seconds in to open the scoring, but senior Liam Quinn countered with a jumper to tie it.

That would be as good as it got for Fryeburg Academy, however.

With 5:50 to go in the first quarter, Armstrong scored on a putback and Falmouth was ahead to stay.

With the Raiders turning the ball over and losing sophomore point guard Gunnar Saunders to three fouls in less than three minutes, Morrill added to the lead with a free throw and Simonds added a layup off a feed from Coyne, but Hallam converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul and free throw) with 4:06 left in the first to cut the Navigators’ lead to 7-5.

And then, Falmouth found another gear.

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Simonds sparked the run with a layup off a Coyne feed, then Armstrong set up Stowell for a layup, Stowell stole the ball and that led to an Armstrong layup and with 1:41 left, Armstrong sank a 3 for a double-digit advantage.

Quinn ended the run with a floater, but Coyne found Armstrong for a layup, Coyne set up Stowell for a 3-ball and Stowell drove for a layup just before the horn for a commanding 23-7 lead.

Senior Bobby Hallam opened the second period with a 3 for the Raiders, then junior Jordan Zerner drained a 3 from the corner to cut the deficit to 10, but Stowell countered with a 3-pointer, then he took a pass from Armstrong and made a free throw before Coyne and Morrill made consecutive 3s to make it 34-13 with 4:06 left to go in the first half.

Fryeburg Academy countered with a Will Hallam three-point play, but Morrill made a free throw.

The Raiders got consecutive layups from senior Benjamin Vlug, but Morrill twice put home misses, including one at the horn, to give Falmouth a comfortable 39-20 lead at the half.

“Zach started out slow and now he’s hitting his stride and contributing,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “He does a lot of the dirty work.”

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Stowell led all first half scorers with 14 points, while Armstrong and Morrill each added nine.

Falmouth junior Judd Armstrong lines up a 3-pointer.

The Navigators continued to pull away in the third period.

After two scoreless minutes to open the second half, Simonds set up Armstrong for a layup.

Will Hallam countered with a free throw, but after an Armstrong steal, Coyne made a layup and after Bobby Hallam drove for a layup, Morrill hit a baseline jumper and Armstrong got a 3-ball to rattle home to make it 48-23.

Will Hallam made two free throws, but Stowell hit a 3.

After junior Geri Daiu drove for a layup for the Raiders, Armstrong drove for a layup, Armstrong stole the ball and made another layup, then Coyne sank two free throws for a 57-27 lead heading to the fourth period.

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There, Daiu hit a runner off the glass, but Coyne made a layup after a steal, Morrill sank a free throw and Coyne hit two foul shots to stretch the lead to 33.

Bobby Hallam answered with two free throws, but junior Lucas Dilworth hit a leaner, Dilworth drove for a layup and Jackman Walker sank a 3 to make it 69-31.

In the final minute, junior Camden Johnson hit a 3 for Fryeburg Academy’s final points before Paul Dilworth made a free throw for the Navigators to close out the 70-34 victory.

“Our press really worked this game,” Armstrong said. “We put a lot of pressure on the ball. We got steals, open layups and easy points. I do think we’re unbeatable when everyone does their job and is shooting well.”

“We had great energy off the bench and we got it done,” Morrill said.

“We wore them out by moving the ball,” Halligan added. “We made them turn the ball over a number of times. We got offense off of our defense. We got some turnovers and got up early. We put some pressure on them. Their point guard had to leave quickly with three fouls and that made a difference.”

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Armstrong led a balanced attack with 18 points. He also had 10 rebounds for a double-double.

“Judd was the SMAA Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team all-star,” said Halligan. “That kid has improved so much. If he keeps improving, he’ll be a special player. He’s like a colt right now.”

Stowell added 17 points, four assists and three steals, Morrill had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Coyne also finished in double digits with 11 points, to go with five assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Lucas Dilworth and Simonds each had four points, Walker finished with three and Paul Dilworth had one.

“We try to have balance,” Halligan said. “We have a good inside game and outside game.”

Falmouth had a 39-27 rebound advantage, made eight 3-pointers to the Raiders three, only turned the ball over six times and hit 8-of-24 3s and 8-of-13 free throws.

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Fryeburg Academy was paced by Will Hallam, who had nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots, but Falmouth managed to limit his effectiveness.

“We beat on (6-foot-10 assistant coach Matt) Cimino in practice all week to prepare (for Hallam),” Halligan said. “Zach and Chris played him well, but it was a team effort because we had the help-side defense there. We just tried to limit him.”

Bobby Hallam added seven points and four rebounds, Daiu, Quinn and Vlug all had four points and Johnson and Zerner added three apiece.

The Raiders made just 12-of-40 field goals, hit 7-of-8 free throws and committed 22 turnovers.

Trophy time

Falmouth beat Marshwood twice this winter, 64-46 at home Dec. 17 and 57-49 in South Berwick Jan. 24.

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The teams played just once before in the playoffs, two years ago, when Falmouth defeated the Hawks, 59-38, in the quarterfinals.

Marshwood is coming off a 46-34 semifinal round win over Greely and is flying high, but the Navigators will simply look at the regional final as another opportunity to take care of business.

“We’re ready for them,” Morrill said, of the Hawks. “We just have to keep working. Coach keeps us game-by-game. He keeps us in the zone. We’re playing as a team and we don’t worry about anyone else.”

“We’re just going to have to figure (Marshwood) out,” said Armstrong. “We want to get to the state finals and beat whoever we play. We only focus on the game ahead of us.”

“We played AA teams as our extra games this year,” Halligan added. “Playing the Portlands and South Portlands and Thornton Academys and the Gorhams, if you make a mistake, they make you pay for it.

“The guys are focused on what they want to do. Marshwood’s legit. They’ve been the best Class A team we’ve seen this year. They have great athletes, they have winners. It should be a good game. The best team that night will become a champion.”

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

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