Lessons in Falmouth loss could help FA boys down the stretch

Ryan Gullikson of Fryeburg Academy takes the ball strong to the hoop against Falmouth. (Rivet Photo)

Ryan Gullikson of Fryeburg Academy takes the ball strong to the hoop against Falmouth. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer
FRYEBURG — Although his Raiders lost 55-39 to Falmouth in a Monday matinee, Coach Sedge Saunders feels the game will prepare his team for the upcoming stretch run to the playoffs.
Falmouth’s patient offense made the Raider defense work, work and work some more. FA’s front line had its handful with 6-foot-6 center Jack Simonds, who scored a game-high 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
“I thought the team did a great job defensively. They made Falmouth (10-3) work for every point they got, especially in the first half,” Coach Saunders said. “Falmouth is so patient that they make you play D for 15 to 25 seconds each possession. It’s tough to not break down when forced to play for that length of time, but our guys hung tough.”
With Simonds scoring seven of his team’s nine first quarter points, Fryeburg rallied as Ryan Gullikson drained a three-pointer from the left corner and later earned two foul shots after converting a turnover into a fastbreak chance. Jon Burk showed he wasn’t intimidated by the Yachtsmen’s size in the paint by taking it strong for a bucket in the closing minute.
With the Raiders converting just 2-of-10 from the field in the second quarter, Falmouth went on a 13-4 run keyed by Sam Skop’s two inside hoops and a three-pointer by Colin Coyne (11 points) from the left corner.
Fryeburg pressured Falmouth’s interior defense was both Burk and Gullikson made strong charges to the rim, enabling the Raiders to close the gap to 26-19 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
When in trouble, Falmouth turns to big #22. Simonds answered the call, burying two three-pointers as the Yachtsmen closed the quarter strong to take a 36-21 lead.
“Simonds was the difference for them. He’s tough inside and he also can step out and shoot it. He’s also an underrated passer,” Coach Saunders said. “He is a big target, which allows them to relieve pressure. He’s one of the best in the state.”
Despite Falmouth’s size, the Raiders’ hustle and determination enabled them to hold a 17-14 rebounding edge heading into the final quarter.
That intensity trickled over into their press in the fourth quarter. Fryeburg forced eight turnovers over the final eight minutes (Falmouth finished with 16 for the game).
Senior Ben Southwick gave FA an offensive spark, scoring seven straight points midway into the quarter.
Although the press gave the Raiders more chances, FA could never make a serious run at Falmouth as the Yachtsmen went 5-for-7 from the field and made 9-of-10 foul shots to maintain an 18-point cushion for most of the fourth period.
“I thought our traps were great. We have to work on our rotation off the ball, but to the kids’ defense, we haven’t worked on it that much,” Coach Saunders said. “Certainly, the kids gained some confidence in the way they played.”
Saunders hopes the strides his team is making will help the Raiders secure a playoff berth.
“I like where we’re at defensively and if we play like we did against Falmouth, we will have a chance to beat anybody we play,” he said. “Some of our role players our gaining confidence and this will be well served down the stretch. I think we are getting back in sync. I’m excited to see how we respond down the stretch.”
Game stats
Turnovers: FA 14, Fal 16
FT: FA 6-14, Fal 14-19
FG: FA 15-42, Fal 19-37
Reb: FA 21, Fal 25
Raiders: Jon Burk 12, Ryan Gullikson 11, Ben Southwick 9, Ben Darling 5, Cody Gullikson 2.
Rebounds: Burk 6, R. Gullikson 5, Southwick 4, Henry Santana 3, C. Gullikson 2, Nacho Calleja 1.
Stretch run: The Raiders host Wells this Friday at 6:30 p.m. The remaining schedule includes:
Tuesday, 1/27 at Greely, 6:30
Friday, 1/30, at Cape, 7:00
Tuesday, Feb. 3, York, 6:30
Thursday, Feb. 5, at Sacopee, 6:30

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