PORTLAND, Maine — Paul Marquis saw his first season as head coach of the York High School boys basketball team end at the Portland Expo last year in a quarterfinal round game.
That disappointment has turned into jubilation 12 months later.
The second-seeded Wildcats scored the game’s first 19 points and never led by less than nine after that in a 53-35 win over No. 7 Fryeburg Academy in Saturday’s Class A South quarterfinal game at the Expo.
“That’s a great win,” Marquis said. “So many of these guys dedicated, or rededicated, themselves after we lost here last year. These guys put a lot of effort into the summer and throughout the fall.”
York (16-3) will now face third-seeded Falmouth on Wednesday in a Class A South semifinal game at Cross Insurance Arena. The game is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. The winner will advance to the regional final next Saturday at 8 p.m.
Falmouth (14-5) advanced with an 45-31 win over sixth-seeded Brunswick in Saturday’s early quarterfinal game.
“Falmouth brings a lot to the table,” Marquis said. “They have good shooters, an active big man and great defense. We’ll need to take care of the basketball, shoot well and make things difficult for them on the offensive end. Of course, we look forward to the opportunity. I think our kids will be ready.”
Falmouth beat York in its lone regular season meeting, 58-49, at the Portland Expo as part of the Red Claws Christmas Showcase.
This will be the fourth time that York and Falmouth will meet in the postseason in the past eight years. Falmouth has won all three, most recently in last year’s quarterfinal. Falmouth beat York in the Class B South championship in 2013 and in the Class B semifinals in 2012.
Fryeburg ended its season at 7-12.
The Wildcats, who have won seven straight games since a loss to Class B Cape Elizabeth on Jan. 17, jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 3 minutes as Fryeburg Academy head coach Sedge Saunders called a timeout with 5:03 left.
Junior captain Will MacDonald and Chris Cummins each had a 3-pointer during that stretch, while Riley Linn scored off a steal and Brady Cummins hit two free throws.
“What a great start, and we did it in different ways,” Marquis said. “We got in transition and got some easy layups, and we hit a few deep shots.”
The Wildcats held a commanding 19-0 lead before Fryeburg captain Oscar Saunders hit a pair of free throws with 1:52 left in the quarter. The Raiders’ first field goal came a minute later.
Tucker Buzzell’s free throw cut the York lead to 10, 28-18, with 2:01 left in the first half.
However, York ended the half the same way it started it, scoring the final seven points before intermission.
Cummins drained his fourth 3-pointer of the game, then grabbed an offensive rebound in the paint and converted with 48 seconds left. The half ended on Brady Cummins’ floater in the paint as the buzzer went off.
“For a guy like Chris (Cummins), a senior, with a very, very young team he truly is our leader,” Marquis said. “He helps us go. He can get to the rim, he defends, he’s passionate and he just facilitates our offense and gets looks for the other guys so they can score.”
Cummins, who sustained a concussion at Fryeburg and missed the next seven games, had five 3-pointers in the game and led the Wildcats with 17 points.
″(The start) was all about energy and wanting it,” he said. ”(This game) was a do-or-die situation and you have to want it, and I think we proved that we did. The regular season doesn’t matter at all; the season starts today. We had the energy and I thought we came ready to play.”
MacDonald and Brady Cummins each had 12 points for the Wildcats, while Linn had eight.
Chris Cummins’ 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:45 left in the third gave York its biggest lead of the night, 48-23.
Buzzell and Eli Mahan each had 10 points for Fryeburg, while Nathan Knapp had nine on three 3-pointers.