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Freeport junior Abby Brier finds herself sandwiched by Yarmouth senior Clementine Blaschke, left, and junior Hope Olson during the teams’ battle Tuesday night. The Falcons prevailed, 39-30.
Ben McCanna / Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
F- 8 12 9 10- 39
Y- 5 9 3 13- 30
F- Smith 5-8-18, Gould 2-3-7, Wall 2-3-7, Thomas 1-0-3, Routhier 1-0-2, Baker-Schlendering 0-1-1, Brier 0-1-1
Y- McGonagle 3-3-9, McNeil 3-0-7, Olson 3-0-6, Blaschke 2-0-4, D’Appolonia 1-0-2, Lyon 1-0-2
F (1) Thomas 1
Y (1) McNeil 1
YARMOUTH—In years past, when shots weren’t falling, Freeport’s girls’ basketball team might have struggled.
But after breaking through and making a run to the regional final last winter, the Falcons have learned how to weather the storm and Tuesday evening, at rival Yarmouth, little went right for much of the game, but Freeport found a way to prevail nonetheless.
And continued its strong start to the 2018-19 campaign.
Despite a flurry of missed layups and free throws, the Falcons went on top to stay in the first quarter on a foul shot from sophomore Rachel Wall and led, 8-5, after eight minutes.
In the second period, junior standout Caroline Smith found her stroke and helped Freeport go up by as many as eight points before taking a 20-14 advantage to the break.
In the third quarter, sophomore Catriona Gould, best known for her goal-scoring exploits on the soccer pitch, turned up the defensive intensity with several steals which led to easy baskets and the Falcons took a 29-17 lead to the fourth period.
There, after the Clippers drew within eight on a layup from junior Hope Olson, Freeport went on an 8-0 run to end all doubt and it pulled away for a 39-30 victory.
Smith led all scorers with 18 points, Gould added seven points and seven steals and the Falcons started the season 2-0 while handing Yarmouth its first loss in two outings in the process.
“I think our defensive intensity in the second half, getting stops and rebounding, was the difference,” said Smith. “We had to stay focused and keep our heads in the game.”
There’s a lot of new around both programs this winter.
Yarmouth, after just missing the playoffs last season with a 5-13 record, said goodbye to coach Chris Strong, who was replaced by Dave Cousins, a former assistant in South Portland and AAU coach. The Clippers do return a lot of talent and are hopeful of making a run up the standings. Yarmouth began with a promising 41-33 win at York, behind 14 points from sophomore Margaret McNeil and 11 from Olson.
Freeport, meanwhile, might have been the best story of the 2017-18 campaign, reaching the regional final for the first time in over 40 years. The Falcons lost to Lake Region, then graduated a ton. In addition, coach Mike Hart departed and was replaced by Seth Farrington, a former girls’ coach at North Yarmouth Academy and Wiscasset. Freeport did return Smith, who had 21 points in a season-opening 45-24 home win over Sacopee Valley.
The Clippers entered play Tuesday holding a 19-10 edge in the series dating to 2002 (see sidebar, below, for previous results), but the Falcons had won the past three meetings, including 44-35 and 46-36 decisions last winter.
This time around, each team failed to take advantage of opportunities, but eventually, Freeport did just enough to make it four consecutive victories in the series.
Neither squad could do much in the first quarter, as Yarmouth got in early foul trouble and Freeport failed to finish easy looks.
A driving layup by Smith got the scoring started 48 seconds in, but the Clippers countered with a 3-point shot from McNeil and a McNeil putback for a 5-2 lead with 6:24 to go in the opening stanza.
Yarmouth wouldn’t score again until the second period.
After Wall scored on a putback, Wall made a free throw to tie it, then hit another with 2:59 on the clock to give the visitors the lead for good. A Smith free throw and another from freshman Baker-Schlendering made it 10-5 after one quarter.
The free throw from Baker-Schlendering came on the Clippers’ seventh foul of the period, putting Freeport in the bonus for the rest of the half.
Forty-three seconds into the new quarter, Yarmouth sophomore Calin McGonagle got a jumper to rattle around and in snapping a 7-minute, 7-second drought, but off an inbounds set, Gould fed Smith for a layup. McGonagle got a point back at the line, but Smith hit a leaner and junior Annika Thomas buried a 3 to make it 15-8 Falcons.
After a long jumper from McGonagle, McNeil made a layup to cut the deficit to three, but Freeport got a free throw from junior Abby Brier, a driving layup from Gould and a driving layup from Smith, where she nearly broke McNeil’s ankles on a stop-and-go move first. A late runner from freshman Katelyn D’Appolonia pulled Yarmouth within 20-14 at halftime.
Smith led all first half scorers with nine points, while Baker-Schlendering had six rebounds and five blocked shots. McNeil led the Clippers with seven points and five rebounds.
The third quarter saw the Falcons go ahead by double figures.
After a Smith free throw started the second half scoring, McGonagle answered with a foul shot for the hosts, but Smith made two free throws, then hit another.
After senior Clementine Blaschke made a layup after a nice move, Gould stole the ball and fed Smith for a layup, then Gould stole the ball again and finished with a layup of her own.
“Catriona might be the fastest player in Western Maine,” said Farrington. “She’s getting into her next development where she sees players on the floor. She makes bounce passes for layups.”
A Smith free throw in the waning seconds made it 29-17 Freeport after three quarters.
Yarmouth showed life early in the final stanza, as McNeil set up senior Ceanne Lyon for a layup, then Lyon fed Olson for a layup to make it an eight-point affair, but Gould hit a foul shot, junior Lindsay Routhier scored on a putback, Gould fed Wall for a layup, Gould made two foul shots and Wall added one to end all doubt, making the score, 37-21, with 4:30 to go.
A leaner from Olson ended the 8-0 run. Olson made a layup after a D’Appolonia steal and McGonagle added a free throw, but that only cut the deficit to 11.
With 1:12 on the clock, Smith hit foul shots to give the Falcons their final points.
In the final minute, McGonagle scored on a putback and Blaschke converted a layup accounting for the 39-30 final score.
“Losing to (Yarmouth) in the soccer playoffs made us want to win tonight more,” said Gould. “We brought the intensity.”
“Things are going well,” Smith said. “Coach Farrington has us prepared as a group. I give a lot of credit to him.”
“We’re getting there,” Farrington added. “Our halfcourt defense is starting to come around. Every single day, these kids come to work hard. This has been a great place to coach. We’ll want to kick ourselves because of our shooting, but we won. Defense is what we hang our hat on. If you want to win in February, you have to have a defense you trust.”
Smith not only led all scorers with 18 points, she also contributed 11 rebounds, produced two steals and handled the ball with confidence.
“Caroline rebounded well tonight,” Farrington said. “Her leadership on the floor, you can’t put a price on that.”
Gould stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, seven steals, seven boards and three assists.
“I try to get in passing lanes and stay with my man,” Gould said.
Wall finished with seven points and seven rebounds, Thomas had three points, Routhier two and Brier and Baker-Schlendering (11 rebounds and seven blocked shots) one apiece.
“(Mason) is seeing some minutes,” said Farrington. “She’ll play for us. She stepped up today with rebounds and blocks.”
The Falcons won the battle of the boards, 47-39, and overcame 16-of-32 foul shooting and 23 turnovers.
Yarmouth was paced by McGonagle’s nine points. She also had eight rebounds and three steals. McNeil finished with seven points (six rebounds, three steals and two blocks), Olson had six (as well as five boards), Blaschke four (to go with 10 rebounds) and D’Appolonia and Lyon two apiece.
The Clippers committed 18 turnovers and made just 3 of 11 foul shots.
“Give a lot of credit to Freeport, they play hard,” Cousins said. “We didn’t match their intensity in the beginning. We came out flat and we stayed flat until the fourth quarter when I thought we played a little harder and it showed. We missed a lot of easy stuff. It is a young team and I have to understand that it will happen. We’ve stressed working hard all year and the girls have done that.”
Yarmouth looks to bounce back when it welcomes resurgent North Yarmouth Academy Thursday. Fryeburg Academy pays a visit Tuesday of next week.
“I think things are going excellent,” said Cousins. “The girls know how to play the game. We’re still a young team trying to get through some things early. There’s room for improvement. We need to make shots that present themselves. We’ll get after it in practice tomorrow. When we play hard, we’re successful, so we’ll ask them to play hard.”
Freeport has another big game Thursday, when it goes to preseason favorite Gray-New Gloucester. The Falcons are then idle until next Wednesday, when they play at Traip Academy.
“It is early, but we have a lot of potential,” Gould said. “We’ve been working hard every day we’re in the gym and we have to keep doing that.”
“We have to clean things up and take better care of the ball,” said Smith.
“We’ll let the girls enjoy tonight, then we don’t want to hear anything but Gray-New Gloucester going forward,” added Farrington.
Freeport junior Catriona Gould, who had seven points and seven steals, rushes up the floor.
Freeport freshman Mason Baker-Schlendering loses control of the ball in traffic.
Freeport junior Caroline Smith, who led all scorers with 18 points, dribbles up the floor.
Freeport 44 @ Yarmouth 35
@ Freeport 46 Yarmouth 36
Freeport 43 @ Yarmouth 30
Yarmouth 51 @ Freeport 47
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Freeport 49 @ Yarmouth 48
Yarmouth 57 @ Freeport
@ Yarmouth 46 Freeport 19
Yarmouth 51 @ Freeport 23
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Yarmouth 55 @ Freeport 35
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Yarmouth 49 @ Freeport 19