PORTLAND, Maine — If the number 13 was not bad luck for Paul Marquis and the York High School boys basketball team before, it very well could be now.
The Wildcats were held to a season-low 13 first-half points and also trailed by 13 at intermission of Wednesday’s Class A South regional semifinal against Falmouth.
The hole was to deep to climb out of and the second-seeded Wildcats saw their year, for the second straight season, end at the hands of Falmouth, 48-37, at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“We picked a great game to not shoot very well and not finish, but as much as this hurts, I really didn’t want to leave that locker room with those guys,” Marquis said. “I am proud of the way we responded in the second half. We did so many great things this year, and I am going to look at the positives. It’s tough to do right now.”
York (16-4) chipped away at the 13-point halftime deficit and got it down to four, 35-31, with 4:01 left thanks to a pair of Will MacDonald free throws.
“They got it to four, but we didn’t let them get it to three,” said Falmouth coach Dave Halligan. “It was one possession at a time; that’s the way the game was. We worried about one possession at a time.”
Third-seeded Falmouth (15-5) will face top-seeded Greely (17-3) for Saturday’s regional championship.
“I tip my cap to Falmouth,” Marquis said. “They had a good plan and they did some really good things, and their kids made foul shots when they needed to at the end. They earned it.”
Greely advanced with a 69-62 win over fifth-seeded Kennebunk in Wednesday’s late semifinal.
“Winning ugly is still winning,” Halligan said. “All you have to do is survive and advance at this time of the year.
“I thought our defense was great throughout the game. I liked how we played together and guys stepped up and helped their teammates out. York is a team that likes to drive and kick, and I thought we took that away from them.”
Falmouth returns to the regional final for the seventh time in the last eight years. It was defeated by Greely, 49-47, in last year’s semifinal round.
″(Getting back to the regional final) means a lot for our program, for our kids,” Halligan said.
Falmouth and York have met in the regional tournament four times in the past eight seasons, with the Yachtsmen advancing all four times. Falmouth beat York in last year’s regional quarterfinal round at the Portland Expo.
“We took another step forward with this group,” Marquis said. ¨It just wasn’t our night. We missed a bunch of shots we usually make, both inside and outside. Falmouth played great defense. There were two good basketball teams playing against each other, and that’s a good team that won tonight. They took us out of a lot of what we wanted to do, but we didn’t finish a lot of what we had either. We didn’t want (the season) to end tonight.”
Once MacDonald cut the Falmouth lead to four, Falmouth outscored York 13-6 the rest of the way.
“We had looks at the rim, we couldn’t finish there,” Marquis said. “And we had open looks from the outside, and we couldn’t get those to fall.”
Falmouth’s Mike Simonds went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in a 23-second span late in the fourth and was 7-for-8 in the quarter. Nik Hester also scored six of his game-high 20 points in the fourth. Hester, Falmouth’s 6-foot-7 senior captain, added a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, his second one at the halftime buzzer, giving Falmouth its 13-point advantage.
″(Hester) is a senior captain and you have to ride your seniors, I’ve always said that,” Halligan said. “No matter how many seniors you have, your seniors are going to lead you.”
Senior Chris Cummins, junior Riley Linn and sophomore Brady Cummins all had eight points to lead York. Brady Cummins was held scoreless in the second half and had just one field goal after the first quarter.
“I don´t know if (Falmouth) did anything different than what they did in the first half,” Marquis said. “We’ve never been a team that was forcing the action to one guy, but we had some ideas of what we wanted to do with their faceguard on (Brady). We got him some looks in the first, and they doubled him a little bit in the second half.”
York got back into the game in the second half thanks to its defense. Falmouth scored just six points in the third quarter, half of that coming on Simonds’ 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:53 left, giving Falmouth its biggest lead of the night, 29-13.
York outscored the Yachtsmen 10-3 the rest of the quarter. Linn had four points in the quarter, while junior Riley Johnston and sophomore Evan Bourgoine each hit a basket, and Chris Cummins hit a pair of free throws.
“I thought our defense (in the third) was pretty darn good,” Marquis said. “We talked at the half that if we could get it down to single digits going to the fourth, we’d take that. We played tough in the second half, and that’s just a mark of the effort our guys put in all year long.”