Nokomis 43 Falmouth 27

N- 11 8 11 13- 43
F- 7 5 9 6- 27

N- C. Flagg 8-6-22, White 3-1-8, A. Flagg 3-1-7, Sides 2-0-4, Grant 0-2-2

F- Stowell 3-1-8, Morrill 3-1-7, Armstrong 3-0-6, Coyne 3-0-6

N (1) White 1
F (1) Stowell 1

N- 13
F- 12

N: 10-15
F: 2-5


PORTLAND—Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team held the powerhouse Nokomis Warriors to just 43 points in Saturday afternoon’s Class A state final at the Cross Insurance Arena.

But it wasn’t nearly enough to produce a Gold Ball.

Nokomis, led by highly touted freshman sensation Cooper Flagg, seeking its first-ever championship, managed to reach the pinnacle, but its title was won more by its defense than its offense.

As the Navigators never could get comfortable against their taller, longer foe.

Falmouth grabbed a quick lead on a 3-pointer from senior Jack Stowell, but that proved to be its highwater mark and a 9-0 run, sparked by Flagg, put the Warriors in the lead, 11-7, after one quarter.

Nokomis tried to pull away in the second period, but the Navigators kept hanging around and despite only scoring a dozen first half points, were only trailing by seven, 19-12, at the break.


The Warriors finally opened up a double digit lead in the third quarter, as Falmouth continued to struggle on offense, but a late three-point play from senior Zach Morrill kept the Navigators within nine, 30-21, heading for the fourth period.

And there, Nokomis put it away, closing the game on a 7-0 run to prevail, 43-27.

Flagg was superb with 22 points and 16 rebounds and the Warriors held Falmouth to 14-of-50 shooting, including just 1-of-12 from 3-point land, as they finished the season 21-1 and ended the Navigators’ memorable campaign at 19-3.

“We ran into a buzz-saw,” said longtime Falmouth coach Dave Halligan, who last lost in a state final way back in 1996. “That’s a generational team over there that only comes along once in awhile. Tonight, they were the better team. They deserved it.”

Earning respect

Nokomis has received an abundance of attention from the start of season, as Flagg arrived on the scene as good as advertised and other than an early loss to Brewer, the Warriors managed to run the table.


Nokomis coach Earl Anderson said that loss was a great lesson for his team.

“Our defense has been locked in since after the first Brewer game in early December,” Anderson said. “They were as good as anybody we played and they handled us. From that point on, we got locked in.”

In the Class A North tournament, top-ranked Nokomis eliminated Messalonskee (57-29) in the quarterfinals, overcame a slow start to beat Cony (51-35) in the semifinals, then made an emphatic statement with a 68-58 victory over Brewer in the regional final to advance.

Falmouth, meanwhile was only seriously tested by Class AA teams this winter (see sidebar for links to previous stories), losing at eventual champion South Portland and at Portland. The Navigators rallied for a stirring win over AA South finalist Thornton Academy and handled Gorham. In games against non-AA foes, Falmouth went 14-0, with an average margin of victory of nearly 27 points.

The top-ranked Navigators then eliminated No. 9 Westbrook (59-39) in the quarterfinals, had no trouble getting past fifth-seeded Fryeburg Academy (70-34) in the semifinals, then survived a test from No. 3 Marshwood in the regional final, 48-32.

Regardless of where it’s been classified over the years, Falmouth has won found a way to rise to the pinnacle (see sidebar).


Falmouth’s first state title came in Class C in 1986, when the then-Yachtsmen defeated Hodgdon to win the championship. The next winter, Falmouth repeated with a state game victory over Calais.

It took a decade to return to the pinnacle (the Yachtsmen lost to John Bapst in 1990 and to Hodgdon in 1996), before Halligan led Falmouth to Class C crowns in 1997, 1998 and again in 1999.

After moving up to Class B at the turn of the century, Falmouth knocked on the door for several years before breaking through in 2010, edging Camden Hills in an overtime thriller at the old Bangor Auditorium. Three years later, Falmouth won a second Class B championship, with ease over Medomak Valley.

In 2016, Falmouth won Class A for the first time, routing Oceanside.

Nokomis, meanwhile, was making its first state game appearance.

Saturday, in front of a huge crowd, the Warriors earned their coronation.


Flagg took the game’s first shot, a 3-pointer, but he missed it and at the other end, Stowell sank a 3 to get the Navigators off to a fast start.

After Flagg scored on a contested putback, Morrill put back a Stowell miss with 5:28 to go in the opening stanza for a 5-2 lead.

But Falmouth wouldn’t score again until the horn and the Warriors made their move.

First, freshman Ace Flagg made a free throw for Nokomis. Cooper Flagg tied it on a putback, then Flagg took a pass from junior Madden White in transition, thought about going up for a dunk, but under pressure, laid the ball in instead with 3:56 on the clock to give Nokomis the lead for good.

After White made a layup, off a feed from sophomore Alex Grant, Halligan called timeout, but it didn’t help, as Cooper Flagg made two free throws.

Finally, at the buzzer, Stowell drove for a layup to snap the 9-0 Warriors’ run and a 5 minute, 28 second scoring drought, making the score 11-7 after eight minutes.


Cooper Flagg had eight points and six rebounds in the frame.

Nokomis tried to pull away in the second period, but the Navigators refused to fold.

After Cooper Flagg drove for a layup to start the frame, he took a feed from White on a backdoor play and made a layup for a 15-7 advantage.

Stowell answered with a free throw and Morrill drove for a layup, but Ace Flagg found sophomore Connor Sides for a layup.

With 1:50 left before halftime, senior Brady Coyne scored his first points, on a jumper, but that would be it for Falmouth’s offense in the half and with 13.8 seconds on the clock, White set up Cooper Flagg for a short bank shot and the Warriors took a 19-12 lead to the half.

Flagg led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds, but the Navigators were still very much in it.


Ace Flagg opened the second half with a leaner in the lane, but Stowell countered with a floater.

Cooper Flagg put home his own miss to give himself a double-double, but after blocking a shot at the defensive end, Armstrong banked home a contested runner to keep Falmouth within seven, 23-16.

White then made Nokomis’ first 3 of the game and Cooper Flagg added two free throws for the biggest spread of the game, forcing Halligan to call timeout.

It helped momentarily, as Coyne drove and banked home a shot while being closely guarded, but Ace Flagg countered with a spinner before an old-fashioned three-point play from Morrill (putback, foul and free throw) kept the Navigators within nine, 30-21, heading for the fourth period.

Where Falmouth fought to the bitter end, but the Warriors were able to close it out.

Cooper Flagg started the final stanza by driving for a layup, then Sides set up White for a layup before Cooper Flagg stole the ball and fed Ace Flagg for a layup to make it 36-21 with just 4:48 remaining.


Coyne countered with a layup to snap a 4:39 drought, then Armstrong made a runner.

With 2:36 to go, Coyne set up Armstrong for a breakaway dunk to give the Navigators a pulse, but that would prove to be their final basket of the season.

Thirty-five seconds later, the Falmouth bench was called for a technical foul and Grant sank both free throws. Cooper Flagg added two more, Flagg set up Sides for a layup, then White brought the curtain down with one more foul shot.

At 4:19 p.m., the horn sounded and the Warriors were able to celebrate with abandon their 43-27 victory and first-ever state championship.

“We’ve locked in and stayed mentally focused all year,” Flagg said. “Today was nothing new to us. We just came in and got it done.”

“It was a special season,” said Anderson. “We wanted to enjoy the journey and the guys enjoyed it and they dragged me along and they made me enjoy it too. This is a great group that really had a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations put on them. They handled it as well as adults would handle it. They’re young kids and by young kids, of our top six, we have three freshmen and two sophomores who never played varsity basketball.”


Cooper Flagg scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. He also dished out three assists and was the main reason the Cross Insurance Arena was nearly full.

“At the start of the season, everyone put expectations on us, so to get here and get it done and get the first one for the community is really exciting,” Flagg said.

“Cooper’s fantastic,” said Anderson. “His basketball IQ is well beyond a 14-, 15-year-old. He’s very much a 14-, 15-year-old off the floor, which is a good thing, but on the floor, he’s very mature and he handles things very well.”

Flagg’s defense on Falmouth’s dangerous guards was just as impressive as his offense Saturday.

“We’re just the best defensive team in the state,” Flagg said. “I think we can shut anyone down when we play as a team. My whole life, I’ve been guarding perimeter players. High-level coaches are looking for players who can switch off and guard guards. That’s always been part of my game.”

Flagg is already on the radar of top schools across the country and it’s unclear if he’ll return to Maine high school basketball as a sophomore, or move on to prep school.


“I’m just going to stay locked in and keep my eyes forward,” said Flagg.

White added eight points and also had three assists and three rebounds.

Ace Flagg finished with seven points and five rebounds, while Sides scored four points and Grant had two.

Nokomis made just one 3-pointer, hit 10-of-15 free throws and overcame 13 turnovers, while enjoying a 31-25 rebound advantage.

Whether or not Cooper Flagg returns next season, the Warriors figure to have enough pieces in place to make another title run.

“Who knows?” Anderson said. “I plan on being back next year and coaching the kids who go to Nokomis Regional High School.”


Second best

Falmouth didn’t have a single player score in double figures, as Stowell led the way with eight points. He also had four rebounds in his final game.

Morrill added seven points and three boards, Armstrong had six points, three rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals and Coyne added six points, seven rebounds and four steals in his swan song. Coyne was named Saturday as a finalist for the Mr. Maine Basketball award.

The Navigators made just one 3-pointer while missing 11 others, hit just 2-of-5 foul shots and turned the ball over a dozen times.

“We didn’t shoot well, but they had a lot to do with that,” Halligan said. “They’re long and they’re athletic. We just wanted to keep it close, but we had some things go against us. They played great team defense. (Ace) Flagg doesn’t get enough credit. He was there protecting the rim and (Cooper) Flagg was guarding the perimeter.”

Falmouth has no reason to hang its head. The Navigators won 19 games and were clearly the best team in Class A South.

“It was a great season,” Halligan said. “One game does not make your resume, it’s what you do over the course of the season. Looking at the whole body of work, we did great.”

The loss of Coyne, Morrill and Stowell will hurt immensely, but Armstrong, junior Lucas Dilworth and sophomore Chris Simonds return to lead what should be a very strong team again next winter.

“The seniors won a lot of games and they didn’t have this experience last year,” said Halligan. “We have kids who will go on and play at the next level and hopefully, they showed the younger players what they have to do to get here. We’ll try to get back here again next year.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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