PORTLAND—Longtime Falmouth boys’ basketball coach Dave Halligan has likened his team’s tournament run to a trip to dentist.

But the Navigators have come away with a beautiful smile.

And another piece of hardware.

Facing third-seeded Marshwood Friday evening at the James Banks Portland Exposition Building, top-ranked Falmouth completed a dominant run through the field, once again producing a defensive gem and getting timely scoring from expected sources to repeat as regional champions.

The first quarter was a rock fight and it appeared destined to end 6-6, but at the horn, senior Lucas Dilworth banked in a shot from beyond halfcourt and the Navigators went ahead by three.

The Hawks would even things up at 13-13 in the second period, but with 2:37 remaining in the half, senior Paul Dilworth, who stepped up huge in the tournament, buried a 3 to put Falmouth ahead to stay and a driving bank shot from senior standout Judd Armstrong made it 18-13 at the break.


Marshwood got within one possession early in the third quarter, but a 9-2 run, capped by an Armstrong 3-pointer, gave the Navigators a little breathing room and they held a 27-19 lead heading for the fourth period.

And there, they never let the Hawks make a serious run before closing out a 40-31 victory.

Both Dilworth brothers scored 11 points, Armstrong added 10 and Falmouth improved to 17-4, ended Marshwood’s season at 15-6 and advanced to the Class A state final for the second consecutive season where it will take on powerhouse Brewer (20-1) Friday at 8:45 p.m., at the Augusta Civic Center.

“None of our games have been pretty,” Halligan said. “It’s been grit. We did it on the defensive end. To hold three good teams in the 30s, that’s what these kids do. They work hard and play for each other. You don’t have to have the best players to have the best team.”

Repeat after me

Falmouth was expected to come back to the pack a bit in Class A South this season, but the Navigators lost just once to a non-Class A foe and despite losing standout junior big man Chris Simonds to a broken ankle on the even of the tournament, the Navigators, as the top seed, impressed with victories over No. 8 Mt. Ararat (51-34) in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Westbrook (52-33) in the semifinals (see sidebar for links to previous stories).


Marshwood, a regional finalist last winter, went 13-5 during the regular season with two of the losses coming by a single point. The Hawks turned heads as well with their tournament play, eliminating No. 6 Fryeburg Academy (51-35) in the quarterfinals, then ending No. 2 Gray-New Gloucester’s fantastic season in the semifinals (54-43).

Falmouth split with Marshwood this winter, winning 48-34 on the road Jan. 3 and falling, 46-43, at home 10 days later.

The Navigators won both prior playoff meetings with the Hawks: 59-38 in the 2020 quarterfinals and 48-32 in last year’s regional final.

Friday, Falmouth locked down on defense once more and earned its coronation.

The Navigators scored first, as Armstrong set up senior Eli Cowperthwaite for a layup 38 seconds in.

The Hawks needed nearly three minutes to get on the board before senior Andrew Perry hit a 3.


The score remained 3-2 until less than two minutes remained in the opening stanza, when Cowperthwaite hit a leaner in the lane.

Senior Cooper Aiguier countered with a 3 for what proved to be Marshwood’s last lead, but Armstrong set up Lucas Dilworth for a tying layup and after a Hawks’ turnover near midcourt with just over a second to go, it appeared the score would remained tied after eight minutes.

Guess again.

Senior Peyton Mitchell inbounded the ball to an unguarded Lucas Dilworth, who was beyond the lobster emblem at midcourt and Dilworth flung the ball toward the basket, it kissed off the backboard and dropped into the net for an improbable three points and a 9-6 lead.

And according to Dilworth, it was no fluke.

“It wasn’t a prayer,” Dilworth said. “I was throwing up a good shot. It felt good. I don’t know why they didn’t defend me. I told Peyton to throw it into me and I’d make it. It gave us a lot of motivation.”


“I just saw the ball bank and go in and I got really excited,” Armstrong said. “We practice that. He does that all the time.”

“We created a monster,” Halligan joked. “We give him a hard time because he’s always shooting half-court shots in practice. He’ll say he was wide open.”

Perry started the second period by driving for a layup, but Armstrong countered with a jumper, then Lucas Dilworth stole the ball and made a layup to make it 13-8.

Back came Marshwood, as Perry scored on a putback after a highlight reel save by senior Jason Singer near midcourt.

With 3:23 to go before halftime, senior David Lane was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and he sank all three subsequent free throws to pull the Hawks even.

But 46 seconds later, a Paul Dilworth 3 gave the Navigators the lead for good and Armstrong added to it with a driving bank shot for an 18-13 halftime advantage.


Singer tried to spark a rally when the second half began by stealing the ball and driving for a layup, but Falmouth, as it has done all tournament, didn’t buckle, getting a layup after a nice spin move from Lucas Dilworth, a layup from sophomore Billy Birks and a pair of foul shots from Mitchell to make it 24-15.

Perry countered with a layup, but Armstrong hit a clutch 3 and even though Perry sank two free throws in the final minute, the Navigators took a 27-19 lead to the final stanza.

Where they put it away.

Senior Jared Herrin cut the deficit to six with a jumper 14 seconds into the fourth period, but Marshwood would get no closer.

After Mitchell kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, Paul Dilworth hit a crucial 3-pointer, then Lucas Dilworth banked home a shot to push the lead back to 11.

Lane countered by driving for a layup, then Perry made things interesting with a putback with 3:42 on the clock, but Armstrong made one free throw, then he hit two more with 1:58 remaining for a 35-25 advantage.


Senior Michael Burbank made a layup for the Hawks with just under a minute left, but Paul Dilworth sank two foul shots.

After a Perry leaner with 39 seconds on the clock, Paul Dilworth made two more free throws.

With 26 seconds to go, a putback from Aiguier produced Marshwood’s final points and three seconds later, Paul Dilworth hit one more free throw to bring the curtain down on a 40-31 victory.

At 10:01 p.m., the horn sounded and Falmouth was Class A South champion again, 40-31.

“We wanted it really badly,” said Armstrong. “We worked really hard. We worked as a team, prepared a lot. We take a lot of pride in our defense. That’s our strong suit.”

“I think this time, we took better shots on offense and played much better defense,” Lucas Dilworth said. “We really dialed it in and kept the offense organized. The energy in practice and the games, we help each other. It’s a team effort.”


“This is special because of the adversity we went through all season long,” Halligan added. “We lost Chris the first practice after the season and had to start from scratch. We found out what some players can do and we’re playing to their strength. We have two football players, a baseball player, a golfer and a basketball player. They’re good athletes who have concentrated on their basketball skills. That’s what’s coming through now.

“I think we’re a completely different team. We played a great schedule and grew as a team. We played Portland, South Portland, Gorham, Thornton and we played Marshwood twice and I think that toughened us up.”

Lucas Dilworth (four rebounds) and Paul Dilworth shared top scoring honors with 11 points apiece.

Armstrong, who was named the regional tournament’s most valuable player, added 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Cowperthwaite had four points and Birks and Mitchell (four rebounds) each had two.

The Navigators only turned the ball over eight times and hit 10-of-14 free throws.


For Marshwood, Perry had a game-high 15 points, as well as nine rebounds and two blocked shots, but he had nearly half of his team’s offensive total.

Aiguier and Lane each added five points and Burbank, Herrin (seven rebounds) and Singer all contributed two.

“(Tonight) was really a team effort,” said Halligan. “When (Perry) got loose, someone was there to pick him up. Aiguiar is a great shooter. For the most part, we kept him under wraps.”

The Hawks made all five free throws and only committed eight turnovers.

“Ultimately we couldn’t score and credit to Falmouth, they contested every shot,” said Marshwood coach Bobby Pratt.

In it to win it


After losing to the Cooper Flagg-led Nokomis Warriors in last year’s state final, Falmouth has achieved its goal of returning to the big stage, but for the second year in a row, the Navigators will have to contend with a juggernaut in the form of Brewer, which won its three regional tournament games by an average of 29 points, including a 70-33 victory over Skowhegan in the Class A North Final Friday.

The teams have never met.

Falmouth will embrace the underdog role, will turn to its defense and will look to earn its first Gold Ball since 2016.

“We knew we’d be in states from the beginning of the season,” Lucas Dilworth said. “This was our goal. I think the way our defense has been playing and the guys we have on this team, if we work together and play like we did tonight, we’ll come away with a win.”

“We’ll prepare hard,” said Armstrong. “We were there last year and they weren’t. Our whole starting lineup is seniors. We want to win it really badly.”

“(Brewer’s) an outstanding team,” Halligan added. “We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens. They should be favored. We won’t win a game in the 70s or 80s, so we’ll rely on our defense.”

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

Comments are not available on this story.