Falmouth’s Chris Simonds, center, and the Navigators – two-time defending regional champions – are again a favorite going into the playoffs. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

When it comes to Class A South boys’ basketball, Falmouth is the king. But there are plenty of teams capable of a coup.

The Navigators are the two-time defending regional champions, winning A South three times since Maine went to its five-class system in 2016, and appearing in three of the other four regional finals. They also have above-average size, notably with senior 6-foot-8 center Chris Simonds.

“I would consider them the team to beat,” said Ian McCarthy, Gray-New Gloucester’s first-year coach.

Falmouth (15-3) is likely go in as the No. 2 seed in the tournament behind Gray-New Gloucester (16-2). Falmouth beat Gray handily 75-54 in the opener in Falmouth and finished the regular season Tuesday night with a similarly one-sided win against No. 4 Freeport, 56-30.

“Our offense is designed to get to the rim and in our game against Falmouth, it felt like (Simonds) had 20 blocks,” McCarthy said. “They pose matchup problems for us and for everyone.”

Two of Falmouth’s losses were against Gorham and Windham, the top-ranked teams in AA South and North. Falmouth has beaten Class AA teams South Portland and Thornton Academy, and scored close wins against Noble and Kennebunk, the likely third and fifth seeds in Class A.


“We’re trying to play the toughest schedule possible to try to get us ready for the tournament and I think that will pay dividends down the road,” said Falmouth Coach David Halligan, who has 598 career wins.

Falmouth’s only loss to a Class A team came Friday at Fryeburg Academy.

“We took them too lightly, didn’t take them seriously and we paid for it,” Simonds said. “That was a wakeup call. I think we’re going to work 10 times harder because of that game.”

While the Falmouth program and Halligan have loads of tournament experience, Simonds is the only primary contributor who has seen playoff action, and that was as a sophomore when Falmouth lost to Cooper Flagg and Nokomis in the state championship game. Last season Simonds broke his ankle in the first postseason practice. The top six players from last year’s team that lost to Brewer 42-41 in the state final have graduated.

“We’re going for that Gold Ball at the end. Our team, we’ve worked as hard as we could. I’ve lost two straight state championships – I didn’t play in one of them – and I want it really bad. And so do the other guys on our team,” Simonds said. “Especially last year not being able to play and us being that close, it was a terrible feeling and I just want to get back there.”

NATE HEBERT of Gray-New Gloucester scored his 1,000th point in Tuesday night’s 70-50 win against Fryeburg Academy. The senior guard is averaging about 22 points per game this year.


“I’ve been proud of his maturity this year,” said McCarthy, who was an assistant at Gray the previous four years. “He’s actually had to sacrifice some on the scoring front because we have so many scoring options and most of the time he’s being face-guarded. He’s been moving the ball better and getting other guys involved more.”

The Patriots won 15 straight before Monday’s 82-78 loss at Noble in North Berwick. Even in the loss, Gray rallied from a 16-point deficit and took a late lead despite twins Aidan and Noah Hebert (Nate Hebert is their uncle) fouling out with four minutes to play.

“Although we lost it was an impressive performance and comeback, and we were able to show that even on a tough night we’re not going to back down,” McCarthy said.

IT’S ALREADY been a historic season for Noble. The Knights are 14-4. It is just Noble’s second winning season since 1988.

“As far as at least in the last 50 years, we’ve been able to check that far back, this is the best record by three wins,” said Coach John Morgan. “We’ve been saying this a lot this year: We don’t want this to end and we want to keep this going into the beginning of March.”

The Class A state championship game is March 2.


Noble went 7-11 (7-12 with a playoff loss) in Class AA last season. The Knights expected to be improved primarily because they were returning their top two scorers, Jamier Rose and Bryce Guitard.

Noble moved to Class A because it won only 14.4% of its games the past four seasons (11-65 including playoffs), activating a new Maine Principals’ Association rule that basketball teams that won less than 25% over the previous four seasons could move down in class.

Now the Knights, who are 10-0 at home, are contenders.

“This group didn’t have any lack of confidence but getting the Gray win at home, especially because Gray is such a good team, was big,” Morgan said. “We felt like we can play with anyone but now we’ve kind of proven that.”

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