PORTLAND—Falmouth’s boys’ basketball team is clearly still a work in progress, but as the reigning Class A South champions, the Navigators know what it takes to win, even in games when they don’t play their best.

Tuesday evening at the Portland Exposition Building, Falmouth took on resurgent Mt. Ararat in a countable game at the Varsity Maine Holiday Hoops Showcase, and the Navigators, stunningly, found themselves behind heading for the fourth quarter.

Where they finally came to life.

Falmouth senior standout Judd Armstrong scored nine first quarter points as the Navigators opened up a 15-9 lead, but burdened by fouls, Armstrong spent plenty of time on the bench in the middle quarters, as Falmouth’s offense came to a screeching halt.

The Eagles hung tough at halftime, trailing only by six, 23-17, then Mt. Ararat controlled the third period and went on top, 30-27, on late layups from juniors Kasey Bergeron and Ben Therriault.

Armstrong then returned for the fourth quarter and sparked a quick 9-2 run to restore order and the Navigators went on to a 48-37 victory.


Armstrong led all scorers with 20 points as Falmouth improved to 4-1 and in the process, dropped Mt. Ararat to 2-3 on the year.

“This is that time of year, the holidays, where we haven’t had concentrated practices and this is why we do it,” said longtime Navigators coach Dave Halligan. “There are a lot of lessons we take from this game and we’ll move forward.”

Different story

Falmouth, which lost to Cooper Flagg and Nokomis in the Class A state final a year ago, opened the season by defeating host Biddeford (63-38) and visiting Kennebunk (57-50). After a 52-39 home loss to reigning Class AA champion South Portland, the Navigators got back on track at Brunswick last week, 63-55.

Mt. Ararat, meanwhile, had no answers for Marshwood in the opener, losing, 62-28, then turned around and defeated Camden Hills (66-52) and Leavitt (48-45), before falling against reigning Class B champion Yarmouth (49-31).

Falmouth beat the Eagles twice decisively a year ago, 93-52 in Topsham and 75-35 at home.


Tuesday’s encounter was a vastly different story, but after a few anxious moments, the Navigators managed to prevail again.

Armstrong set the tone, driving for a layup 16 seconds in. Mt. Ararat’s first point came on a free throw from sophomore Andrew Clemons, but senior Lucas Dilworth drove for a layup, then Armstrong did the same for a quick 6-1 lead.

The Eagles’ first field goal came on a jumper from senior Brady Merrill, but Armstrong countered with a putback.

After Merrill added a jumper, Armstrong drained a 3-point shot to give him nine points in just over four minutes and put Falmouth on top, 11-5.

After Mt. Ararat got a fastbreak layup from sophomore Ethan Berry, but senior Rocco Mancini scored on a putback and sophomore Jaxson Cameron drove for a layup before Berry set up senior John Martin for a layup to make the score 15-9 after one period.

The Navigators then threatened to pull away in the second quarter, but the Eagles held strong.


A putback from Simonds started the frame and after Berry set up Clemons for a layup, Armstrong drove for a layup, then Armstrong drained a jumper in the lane for a 21-11 lead.

But late in the half, Mt. Ararat fought back.

After Berry hit a 3, Bergeron made a layup. Dilworth answered with a layup, but a late Clemons foul shot pulled the Eagles within six, 23-17, at the break.

In the first half, Armstrong led all scorers with 13 points.

Mt. Ararat enjoyed even more success in the third quarter, as it took a surprising lead.

After senior Rocco DePatsy opened the second half with a free throw for Falmouth, Bergeron drove for a layup and Therriault sank two free throws to make it a one-possession game, 24-21.


Senior Paul Dilworth momentarily restored order for the Navigators with two free throws, but after Armstrong picked up his third foul and had to sit, senior Parker Bate drained a 3 for Mt. Ararat and after senior Peyton Mitchell made a free throw for Falmouth, Bate hit a runner over Simonds and off an inbounds set, Berry fed Bergeron for a layup and the Eagles’ first lead, 28-27.

Junior Isaac Wheeler then found Therriault for a layup and Mt. Ararat was up by three going to the final stanza.

There, the Navigators, who didn’t make a single field goal in the third period, brought Armstrong back into the game and took control for good.

Just 30 seconds in, Armstrong passed to Simonds for a leaner.

Twenty-five seconds later, after DePatsy kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, Paul Dilworth set up Simonds for a layup and Falmouth was finally ahead for good.

With 6:35 left, Armstrong got a leaner to rattle in and after Martin countered with a layup, Paul Dilworth buried a long 3, then Armstrong hit a jumper to make it 38-32.


Martin made two foul shots for the Eagles, but Lucas Dilworth hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it a six-point game again.

After Bergeron got a point back, Lucas Dilworth made a free throw and Armstrong did the same.

With 52.3 seconds remaining, Mt. Ararat got two free throws from sophomore Caleb Murphy, but that would be it for its offense and down the stretch, Falmouth got two free throws apiece from Lucas Dilworth, Armstrong and Paul Dilworth to bring the curtain down on its 48-37 victory.

“We had to get our heads back in the game,” Armstrong said. “Coach gave us a wakeup call and we came back. We played with some urgency.”

Despite playing limited minutes, Armstrong was the only player to finish in double figures, scoring 20 points, while also grabbing eight rebounds.

Lucas Dilworth added nine points, five rebounds and two steals, while Paul Dilworth had seven points, Simonds six (to go with eight rebounds and three blocked shots), Cameron and Mancini two apiece and DePatsy and Mitchell one each.


“You can’t fault the effort of these guys,” Halligan said. “We just have to play with a little more cohesiveness and play a little smarter. Not harder, but smarter. Sometimes, we just need to slow down a little bit. I think (Mt. Ararat’s) improved. They’re more team-oriented. They have good players who play their roles.”

The Navigators had a 41-21 rebounding advantage, only turned the ball over 11 times and made 14-of-21 foul shots.

Mt. Ararat was led by seven points from Bergeron. Martin wound up with six points, Bate and Berry (six assists, three rebounds) each added five, Clemons (five rebounds), Merrill and Therriault all had four and Murphy wound up with two.

The Eagles made 9-of-13 free throws and only committed nine turnovers.

“It was awesome to play here,” said Mt. Ararat coach David Dubreuil. “The guys don’t have a lot of experience in games like this on a bigger floor in front of this crowd. Deep down, we know we can compete with anyone this year. We knew we had to have minimal errors and hoped to grind out a win and we almost had it. Everyone’s responsible for helping someone else score. We’re assisting on 88 percent of our baskets. Not as much iso-basketball. We’re playing team ball and we all have each other’s backs.”

A tougher road


With Class A South appearing to be more wide open than in recent seasons, the opportunity is there for both teams to reach their goal.

Mt. Ararat hopes to make it back to the Expo in February. First, the Eagles look to bounce back Thursday when Morse pays a visit.

“The guys are working hard,” said Dubreuil. “Every time I challenge them, they rise to the occasion and step up another notch. I don’t think a lot of people expected a lot from us this year and we’re surprising some teams.”

Falmouth, meanwhile, hopes to finish the job that last year’s squad started. The Navigators return to action next Tuesday at Marshwood, who, along with Westbrook, projects to be their toughest obstacle.

“This point of the year, we’re just trying to figure things out and come together as a team and play the best we can to get ready for playoffs,” Armstrong said. “I’m confident with this team. We’re figuring things out. Once everyone finds their place, I think we’ll be one of the best teams in the conference. Team chemistry gets better every day. We just have to play with urgency.”

“I think this is how this year will be,” Halligan said. “It’s so balanced. We’re a good team, but we’re not head-and-shoulders over everybody else. We have to earn it every night.”

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

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