Freeport’s girls’ basketball team got an abundance of support from students Saturday at the Class B South Final, but the Falcons’ fabulous season ended with a 42-34 loss to Lake Region.
Joe Carpine/ 365digitalphotography.com photos.
More photos below.
LR- 9 12 14 7- 42
F- 11 9 4 10- 34
LR- True 5-3-15, Shanks 4-1-11, Jakobs 2-3-7, Hancock 1-4-6, Harrison 1-0-3
F- Smith 2-6-10, Goodman 2-2-8, Driscoll 3-1-7, Cormier 1-1-3, Bogue Marlow 0-2-2, Gould 1-0-2, Rinaldi 1-0-2
LR (5) Shanks, True 2, Harrison 1
F (2) Goodman 2
PORTLAND—Freeport’s girls’ basketball team has been kissed by the basketball gods all winter, but Saturday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena, in the Class B South Final against Lake Region, the Falcons’ good fortune deserted them when they needed it most.
One step from completing a magical journey to the state final, the third-ranked Falcons got another strong defensive effort and had an abundance of good looks at the basket, but shots simply wouldn’t fall, and the fourth-ranked Lakers took advantage.
Freeport got off to a promising start, as a pair of 3-pointers from senior standout Allie Goodman produced an 11-9 lead after one quarter, but Lake Region, as it so often seems to do, found a way to turn the game in its favor.
The Lakers went on top to stay on a 3-pointer from senior Chandler True early in the second period and led by as many as five points before the Falcons got a pair of late hoops from sophomore Caroline Smith to pull within 21-20 at the break.
Freeport made 8 of 21 shots in the first half, but in the second, the Falcons would muster only two field goals.
On 26 shots.
Lake Region started to pull away in the third quarter, taking a 35-24 lead on a 3 from senior Rachel Shanks.
The Falcons wouldn’t quit and when senior Johanna Bogue Marlow, who came up huge time and again this postseason, made two foul shots with 50 seconds to go, they were only down four points, but the Lakers got two clinching free throws from freshman Shauna Hancock and held on, 42-34.
Lake Region was paced by 15 points from True, who was named the regional tournament’s most valuable player, and 11 from Shanks and it improved to 16-5, won its first regional title in four years, advanced to meet Winslow (17-5) in the Class B state final Friday in Bangor and in the process, ended Freeport’s season, one of the best stories of this or any other year, at 16-5.
“I’m proud of the girls for working hard all season long,” said Falcons coach Mike Hart. “They have nothing to be ashamed about. They really have a lot to be proud of. It’s been great.”
As the season has progressed, Freeport has gone from a nice little story to a full-blown phenomenon, not just in its hometown, as the Falcons also earned the attention of the Southern Maine basketball community.
Freeport got to the tournament the last two years, but lost each time to Gray-New Gloucester in the quarterfinals. This winter, the Falcons stumbled just four times in 18 games, twice against nemesis Gray-New Gloucester, once against Class A South champion Greely, and by a point at York.
Freeport earned the No. 3 seed in Class B South before holding off sixth-ranked Wells, 46-42, in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Poland, 40-38, in the semifinals to reach the regional final round for the first time since 1976.
Lake Region has been a perennial title contender under coach Paul True and after going 13-5 this season and winding up fourth, the Lakers downed No. 5 Oak Hill (52-28) in the quarterfinals and Thursday, upset top-ranked, defending champion Gray-New Gloucester (34-31) to reach the B South Final.
The Falcons enjoyed a 59-47 win Feb. 2 at Lake Region in the teams’ lone regular season meeting.
“That was a little bit misleading,” said True. “We were up nine, then we had some kids get in foul trouble.”
The teams met just once previously in the tournament, a 65-29 Lake Region win in the 2013 Western B quarterfinals.
Saturday, with seemingly the whole town of Freeport on hand to cheer them on, the Falcons just couldn’t put the ball in the basket when it mattered most and the season ended in frustration and heartache.
Each team struggled shooting in the first few minutes before the pace picked up.
A free throw from Lake Region senior Lauren Jakobs opened the scoring.
The Falcons’ first points came on a Goodman 3.
The Lakers answered, as Jakobs made another free throw and Chandler True set up Shanks for a layup.
After senior Taylor Rinaldi put Freeport back on top with a jumper, True countered with a bank shot.
A free throw from Falcons senior Megan Cormier tied it and with 1:27 on the first quarter clock, Goodman sank another 3.
Shanks countered with a 3 for Lake Region, but with 54.3 seconds remaining, senior Taylor Dostie set up sophomore Catriona Gould for a layup and an 11-9 Freeport lead after eight minutes.
In the second period, the Falcons struggled to scare and the Lakers went on top to stay.
A 3-ball from True and a coast to coast layup from Jakobs made it 14-11 Lake Region before Freeport senior Jessie Driscoll snapped a 4 minute, 56 second scoring drought with a bank shot.
Junior Brooke Harriman countered with another 3 for the Lakers and and after Driscoll converted an old-fashioned three point-play (layup off a pass from Smith, foul and free throw), a layup after a steal from Jakobs and a Shanks layup off a feed from Jakobs, made it 21-16.
Freeport finished the half strong, however, as Smith made a layup after a nice spin move and Smith hit a short jumper in transition to cut the deficit to 21-20 at the break.
In the first 16 minutes, Goodman led the Falcons with six points, while Driscoll had five. Shanks paced Lake Region with seven points, while Jakobs had six and True five.
The Lakers made 8 of 15 first half shots, including 3 of 8 from 3-point range, while Freeport made 8 of 21 field goals, including 2 of 6 3-pointers.
In the third period, the Falcons again came out slow and Lake Region extended its lead into double digits.
A 3 from True opened up the second half scoring and senior Aisley Sturk fed True for a layup and a 26-20 lead with 5:41 to go, forcing Hart to call timeout.
After Jakobs added to the lead with a free throw, Freeport finally snapped its 5:51 drought when Cormier scored on a putback with 2:55 remaining in the frame.
Goodman added two free throws, but the rest of the quarter belonged to the Lakers.
First, True drove for a layup. After freshman Shauna Hancock added a free throw, Hancock drove and finished a pretty reverse layup.
Then, with 16.8 seconds left, in transition, a Shanks 3 produced a 35-24 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
In the third, Lake Region outscored Freeport, 14-4.
In the fourth period, the Lakers never relented and went on to the regional title.
A pair of True free throws started the final stanza.
With 6:28 left, Smith made a pair of free throws and with 5:09 on the clock, Driscoll ended a nearly six-minute field goal drought with a leaner to make it 37-28, but after failing to draw closer, the Falcons went back down by double figures on a Hancock free throw with 3:22 to play.
Freeport made one last surge, getting two free throws from Smith with 3:03 to play, then Smith made two more foul shots with 1:55 on the clock to make it a two-possession game.
After a near-steal by Gould and a near-steal by Rinaldi, the Falcons got a great look at a 3 from Rinaldi, but once again, it just wouldn’t fall.
True had a chance to extend the lead at the foul line with 1:01 remaining, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one and with 50 seconds remaining, Bogue Marlow made two free throws to make it interesting, 38-34, but Freeport wouldn’t score again.
Six seconds later, Hancock hit a pair of free throws and after a Falcons’ turnover, True made another foul shot with 31 seconds on the clock.
With 18.7 seconds to go, Shanks delivered the coup de grace with one final free throw and at 2:25 p.m., after a glorious magic carpet ride, Freeport’s season came to a close with a 42-34 setback.
“There are a lot of emotions in a game like this,” Hart said. “We talked about leaving doubt in Freeport, not bringing it on the bus, but when teams make a run, you have to be able to answer and unfortunately, we couldn’t do that tonight.”
Lake Region got a solid performance from Chandler True, who had a game-high 15 points.
“She’s just a great kid,” said Paul True, who is also Chandler True’s father. “She works hard and I’m just so proud of her.”
Shanks added 11 points, Jakobs had seven (to go with eight rebounds and two steals), Hancock six (to go with five boards) and Harrison three.
Two days after failing to make a single 3-pointer against Gray-New Gloucester, the Lakers sank five and despite turning the ball over 26 times and making just 11 of 20 foul shots, they did enough to advance.
“It’s really such a great group of kids,” Paul True said. “The girls have worked hard. I’m just so happy for them. We played great defense. We rebounded fairly well. We didn’t score as much as we’d like to, but at the end of the day, it’s about getting one stop at a time. I felt if we played smart today, it would be a great game.”
“What really helped us was the 10-day layoff (before the tournament). I don’t like it, but it really grounded us. We got to spend a week in the gym together. That was instrumental for our run.
“Coach Hart is a first-class individual and he has great kids on his side. They’ve had a historical season. It could have been them going to the next game.”
Lake Region next battles a Winslow squad that went 13-5 in the regular season before beating Orono in the preliminary round, Mt. Desert Island in the quarterfinals, John Bapst in the semifinals and Presque Isle in the regional final.
The teams have never met. The Lakers are 2-6 all-time in the state final and are looking for their second Gold Ball in five seasons.
“It’s such a great experience to go up there,” Paul True said. “I’m excited the kids get to play in that atmosphere. We’ll do the best we can.”
Freeport got 10 points from Smith, who is primed to blossom into one of the conference’s elite players the next two years. Smith also had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Goodman, who joined the Falcons this year from Pine Tree Academy and more than lived up her lofty reputation, bowed out with eight points and five rebounds.
Driscoll will also depart after a solid seven-point, seven-rebound, three-steal performance.
Cormier, who gave Freeport great minutes off the bench all week, had three points and four rebounds, Bogue Marlow added two points and three steals, Gould had two points and Rinaldi finished with two points in her final contest.
The Falcons had a 33-27 rebounding advantage, overcame 16 turnovers and hit 12 of 15 free throws, but making just 2 of 26 second half field goals sealed their fate.
“I felt like we got good looks,” Hart said. “We had makeable shots. The ball just didn’t go in. If a couple shots had fallen, it would have been a different story. I told the girls I liked the looks we got and we didn’t stop shooting. We produced good opportunities, it just didn’t pan out with baskets. We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game offensively. We played hard and Lake Region played hard. It came down to executing.”
Freeport has now established itself as a contender and the Falcons will have success down the road, but the 2017-18 team will be the one that people remember.
“People forget my first year, we were 2-16, and some of these kids were on that team,” Hart said. “They know what it’s like to sit in the stands and watch a game like this.”
Freeport graduates six seniors, Bogue Marlow, Cormier, Dostie, Driscoll, Goodman, Rinaldi, who will live on in program lore.
“Any time you can coach kids for three or four years, you get to know them,” Hart said. “I’m sad that I won’t get to coach them anymore. They’ve made big strides and I’m very proud of them.”
The Falcons will be led in 2018-19 by Gould and Smith, as well as sophomores Lindsay Routhier and Hannah Spaulding.
They expect that this year’s success will be the rule and not the exception.
“The returning players have an opportunity to take this experience and build from it,” Hart said. “We’ve got 26 incoming freshman from Freeport and Durham. That’s outstanding. This group set a bar for them.”
Freeport senior Jessie Driscoll and Lake Region senior Lauren Jakobs meet for the opening tip.
Freeport senior Megan Cormier shoots over Lake Region junior Brooke Harriman.
Freeport senior Jessie Driscoll shoots in traffic.
Freeport senior Allie Goodman is defended by Lake Region junior Brooke Harriman and senior Chandler True.
Freeport senior Johanna Bogue Marlow lines up a shot.
Lake Region celebrates at the final horn.
The Falcons look on dejectedly during the postgame ceremony.