Falmouth High players celebrate a basket during the Navigators’ 40-31 win over Marshwood in the Class A South championship game last week. Falmouth plays Brewer in the state championship game on Friday in Augusta. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

The Falmouth High boys’ basketball team has been challenged all season.

The Navigators played four Class AA opponents, including three who advanced to the regional finals. Like most teams, they dealt with their share of injuries and illness during the season. Then a week before the playoffs began, 6-foot-7 junior center Chris Simonds broke an ankle in practice. Simonds had averaged 13 points and eight rebounds, and over his last five games had been on a double-double tear at a 20-point, 11-rebound clip.

Overshadowed by Simonds significant injury was the fact that sixth man Henry Stowell, a junior forward, also missed the Class A South regional because of a sprained ankle.

Yet Falmouth is still standing thanks to a defense that allowed only 34, 33 and 31 points in its three regional playoff wins. Now the Navigators are headed to their second straight Class A state championship game, at 7:45 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Coach Dave Halligan said he’s “absolutely” proud of his 36th Falmouth team – the 10th to reach a state final.

“You look at the circumstances and what we have, and sometimes you don’t have to have the best players to have the best team,” Halligan said.


The Navigators’ reward for repeating as Class A South champions?

Just like a year ago, Falmouth will face a formidable foe from the North.

In 2022, Falmouth was the final speed bump on the ascendant story of freshman Cooper Flagg, his twin brother Ace, and the Nokomis Warriors. Nokomis slammed the door early on Falmouth’s shooters and won decisively, 43-27.

This year’s North champion, Brewer, is 20-1. It’s worth noting that Brewer’s all-senior starting lineup was part of the only team to beat Nokomis in 2021-22. This season, the Witches averaged a KVAC Class A-best 70.6 points while allowing a league low 45.9 points.

After receiving a first-half scare from No. 8 Camden Hills in its postseason opener, Brewer was even better in the North regional. Down 29-22 at the half in its quarterfinal, the Witches outscored Camden Hills 37-17 in the second half of a 59-46 win. Then they trounced Cony, 83-36, and avenged their only loss with a 70-33 thumping of Skowhegan.

Senior guard Brady Saunders has had 27- and 28-point playoff games after averaging 21.6 points in the regular season on ridiculous 65.5 percent shooting. Evan Nadeau scored 20 points against Cony when Saunders had “only” 15. Brock Flagg is a consistent 12- to 16-point man who rebounds and sets up others. The Witches aren’t big, but they are athletic and determined.


“They’re a complete team,” Halligan said. “They’re good athletes, strong kids. A team like this comes along very seldom, and we ran into one last year and we’ve got another one this year.”

Falmouth will counter with 6-foot-4 guard Judd Armstrong (15.6 points per game) and the Dilworth brothers, Lucas and Paul, as top scoring options. All three hit double figures in Falmouth’s methodical 40-31 win against Marshwood in the regional final.

“Our defense has been our key all year, and when we take time off the clock (on offense) and limit our opponents to a low score, there’s no shot anybody can take us down,” Lucas Dilworth said after the game.

Armstrong acknowledged that Brewer will be a tough test.

“We know they’ve done really well, but we’re just going to go out there, work hard, prepare, and we’re going to do our best. We’re not scared of anyone,” Armstrong said.

Falmouth lost regular-season games to Class AA finalists South Portland and Portland and Class AA South runner-up Thornton Academy. The Navigators beat Class AA Gorham, and played Oxford Hills and Cheverus in the preseason.


Brewer Coach Ben Goodwin knows Falmouth will want to create a game where each possession feels precious.

“They’re very well coached and will be ready to play against anything we have, and it’s going to be a grind,” Goodwin said. “It will be the team that settles in and can run offense and get some good scores that has the edge.”

Often, after Falmouth runs its offense for nearly a minute, the immediate reaction by an opponent is to rush its own offense in response.

“When we do get a stop, we have to run through our offense and get good shots out of it,” Goodwin said. “We might do it quickly, but we do have to be patient to get our shots at the other end.”

NOTE: Brewer has played six playoff games at the Augusta Civic Center the past two seasons. Falmouth hasn’t played there since losing a Class B regional final to Gorham in 2005. The Navigators practiced at the ACC on Wednesday. “It’s a nice facility. Just want to take the aura off a little,” Halligan said.

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