The hottest ticket in Maine high school sports, the Nokomis High boys’ basketball team, is coming to Portland.

It’s Falmouth’s job to ruin their coronation party.

Featuring 6-foot-7 freshman sensation Cooper Flagg and a youthful, talented supporting class, Nokomis (20-1) is the top-ranked team in the state in the Varsity Maine poll. Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena (3 p.m.), Flagg, his twin brother Ace, junior forward Madden White and the rest of the Warriors will be trying to win the Newport-based school’s first boys’ basketball title in the Class A championship game.

Because of Flagg’s open-court abilities, forceful flushes at the rim, and his ranking as one of the best freshmen in the country, Nokomis has been the state’s must-see team since the start of the season. Last Saturday, nearly 5,000 people jammed the Augusta Civic Center to see Nokomis win its first regional title.

Falmouth, a 19-2 team that hasn’t lost to a Class A opponent, is almost lost in the conversation.

The Falmouth boys’ basketball team celebrates after defeating Marshwood 48-32 in the Class A South final on Saturday at the Portland Expo. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

“Everyone is coming to see Nokomis play,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Halligan. “They tell me it’s close to being a sellout.”


“In terms of social media, we’ve been getting ignored. Which we don’t mind,” said 6-foot-4 junior forward Judd Armstrong, who will likely be one of several Falmouth players who will take a turn guarding Cooper Flagg.

Against Class A teams, Falmouth is 17-0 with a 25.2-point average margin of victory. Throughout the season, senior guards Brady Coyne and Jack Stowell were the primary scoring threats, with both averaging over 19 points per game. But in three tournament games, Falmouth has had six players with a double-figure scoring game and four players – Coyne, Stowell, Armstrong and Zach Morrill – are averaging at least 11 points.

Falmouth’s Judd Armstrong goes up for a shot in the first half against Marshwood in the Class A South boys’ basketball championship game on Saturday at the Portland Expo. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

“And our fifth and sixth guys together averaged another 11 combined,” Halligan said, referring to center Chris Simonds and Lucas Dilworth.

“We’re trying to make the extra pass and look for the open guy to get easy layups,” Coyne said. “If we move the ball, it will be a lot easier for us to get a win.”

While none of the players have championship game experience, the coaches do.

Nokomis first-year coach Earl Anderson coached the Nokomis girls from 1995-2007, winning a state title in 2001.


Saturday will be Halligan’s ninth basketball state final in 35 seasons at Falmouth. He is 6-2 in championship games, most recently winning in 2016 when Falmouth routed Oceanside in the Class A final. Halligan is also 12-for-12 in boys’ soccer state championship games.

So what strategy has Halligan devised to stop Flagg, who is averaging 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists and draws effusive praise from veteran coaches for his overall basketball savvy?

“I don’t think you do stop him,” Halligan said. “You go out and play your game and do what you do well and try to stop what they’ll do well. We’re not changing anything from what got us here. There’s always a plan.”

Falmouth’s Jack Stowell looks for a way around Marshwood’s Chris Reuning during the Class A South championship game. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

While others might be overlooking Falmouth, Anderson is certainly not.

“They bring up a lot of concerns. They’re an excellent team. Two outstanding guards in Stowell and Coyne who can shoot it from anywhere,” Anderson said. “Armstrong is, I think, a very underrated athletic player who plays above the rim. Morrill is a great role player, a physically strong kid who rebounds well and has good touch, and the 6-6 kid, Simonds, he’s a good strong kid who is really effective around the rim.”

Anderson also praised Falmouth as “a tenacious rebounding team,” with the ability to pressure the ball and create turnovers.


“They present a lot of problems,” Anderson said.

As does Nokomis. While Cooper Flagg garners most of the attention, Ace Flagg is a 6-6 presence inside. Like his brother, he made 63 percent of his shots during the regular season. White, a sturdy 6-3 guard/forward, has increased his scoring from 10.3 points per game in the regular season to 14.3 in the tournament.

Nokomis did face challenges in the North regional. Cony had a 25-19 halftime lead in the semifinals and trailed by only two entering the fourth quarter. Then Nokomis scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter.

In their 68-58 regional final win against Brewer – the only team to beat Nokomis during the regular season – the Warriors trailed 12-8 after a quarter and led by two at the half before outscoring Brewer 28-13 in the third quarter.

Coyne said Falmouth needs to “make sure we play all 32 minutes and keep the energy up,” to avoid falling prey to a big Nokomis run. “If we can maintain our energy throughout the whole game, we should be in a good spot.”

Nokomis has done an admirable job of dealing with the attention and the large crowds. Now, Falmouth will be sharing in that attention.

“We’ve seen the environment that they bring to each game and we’ll be ready for that,” Armstrong said. “Probably going to be rooting against us. We’re ready for that, too.”

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