Freeport’s girls’ basketball team enjoys a celebration 41 years in the making after downing Wells, 46-42, in the Class B South quarterfinals Tuesday morning. The Falcons advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1977, where they will battle Poland Thursday.
Jason Gendron photos.
More photos below.
W- 11 11 9 11- 42
F- 17 3 13 13- 46
W-Ramsdell 4-0-9, Schneider 4-1-9, Tufts 3-0-7, Foss 1-4-6, Aromando 2-1-5, Chase 1-2-4, O’Brien 1-0-2
F- Goodman 5-1-12, Smith 4-3-11, Driscoll 5-0-10, Cormier 3-1-7, Bogue Marlow 1-2-4, Dostie 1-0-2
W (2) Ramsdell, Tufts 1
F (1) Goodman 1
PORTLAND—Winning a quarterfinal round playoff game for the first time since disco was king and Jimmy Carter was new to the White House didn’t come easily for the Freeport girls’ basketball team, but after holding off a scare from valiant Wells Tuesday morning at the Portland Exposition Building, the Falcons are just getting started.
Third-ranked Freeport, coming off its best regular season in a quarter-century, got off to a fast start against the sixth-ranked Warriors, riding the energy of senior reserve Megan Cormier, who had seven points and a blocked shot, to take a 17-11 lead.
The Falcons then went cold in the second period and Wells came back, taking a 22-20 halftime advantage after a late putback from freshman Mallory Aromando.
But with its season on the line, Freeport turned to its biggest offensive weapons, senior Allie Goodman and sophomore Caroline Smith, and that duo put the Falcons ahead to stay, but the Warriors wouldn’t go away and a late layup from senior Anya Chase trimmed Freeport’s advantage to 33-31 with eight minutes to play.
The Falcons remained poised in the fourth period and when Smith made a layup with 1:43 remaining, the lead was 44-36 and the game appeared over, but proud Wells made one final charge and when sophomore Franny Ramsdell made a layup with 18.7 seconds left, the game hung in the balance.
Goodman then missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Warriors got the ball back with a chance to tie or win it, but they never managed a shot, as Freeport senior Johanna Bogue Marlow, who has been with the team since it won just twice her freshman year, came up with the biggest steal of her life, then clinched it with two free throws and the Falcons survived and advanced, 46-42.
Freeport won a quarterfinal for the first time since 1977, improved to 15-4, ended Wells’ season at 10-9 and advanced to meet second-ranked Poland (15-4) in the semifinals Thursday at 1 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena.
“To see this program grow has been really exciting,” said Bogue Marlow. “We battle hard. We really want it this year.”
Freeport came into the season not looking to just make the playoffs, but to be a top contender in Class B South and the Falcons realized those expectations.
Freeport posted a 14-4 record, its best since an identical mark in 1991-92 (see sidebar, below, for links to previous stories), and wound up third in Class B South, the program’s best ever ranking.
Wells went 10-8 in the regular season and finished sixth in the region.
On Feb. 5, on the Falcons’ Senior Night, Freeport pulled away for a 60-41 home win over the Warriors, as Goodman had 24 points and senior Jessie Driscoll added 16 to neutralize 27 points from Wells sophomore Franny Ramsdell.
The teams split two prior playoff meetings (see sidebar, below).
This time around, the Falcons got the job done, but not without quite a few anxious moments.
Wells opened the scoring on a putback from senior Leah Tufts.
Freeport’s first points came on a layup after a steal from Driscoll and Cormier, fresh from entering the game, hit a baseline jumper for a 4-2 lead.
Tufts tied the game with another putback, but Driscoll canned a short jumper, then, off an inbounds set, Smith threw to Cormier for a layup and she was fouled on the play. Cormier added the free-throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play.
“Megan had big blocks and she hit big shots,” said Freeport coach Mike Hart. “She played exceptionally well. She can light it up.”
Again, the Warriors rallied to tie, as Tufts sank a 3 and Tufts set up senior Megan Schneider for a layup, but with 2:56 to go in the quarter, after a Rinaldi steal, Driscoll made a layup to put Freeport back on top.
Cormier and Goodman added jump shots and after a leaner from Warriors junior Delaney O’Brien, a last-second jumper from Bogue Marlow gave the Falcons a 17-11 advantage after one quarter.
In the first eight minutes, Wells turned the ball over eight times and didn’t get a point from Ramsdell, but Tufts did produce seven. Cormier paced Freeport with seven points, while Driscoll added six.
In the second period, the Warriors cranked up the defensive intensity and the Falcons mustered just one field goal as they fell behind.
Ramsdell scored her first points, on a pull-up jumper after a steal, 51 seconds into the second period.
After Smith made a free throw for Freeport, junior Mackenzie Foss banked home a runner and Schneider converted a three-point play to pull Wells even.
Then, with 1:35 to go in the half, Ramsdell took a feed from Foss and made a backdoor layup to give the Warriors their first lead since 2-0.
A long jumper from Smith tied it, but with 27.5 seconds to go, a putback from Aromando gave Wells a 22-20 halftime lead.
In the first 16 minutes, Tufts paced the Warriors with seven points and four rebounds, while Schneider added five points and five boards. Cormier’s seven points and Driscoll’s six led Freeport.
In the third period, Freeport rediscovered its offense.
The Falcons came out intense, as Smith stole the ball and Driscoll kept possession alive with an offensive rebound before Goodman hit a long jumper to tie it, but at the other end, Ramsdell hit a 3.
Freeport didn’t relent and after Goodman tied the score with a 3, Smith stole the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws to put her team back on top to stay, 27-25.
Goodman added a baseline jumper before Foss snapped the 7-0 run with a free throw.
Smith added a leaner, but after Foss made one of three free throws, Rinaldi picked up her fourth foul and Chase set up Schneider for a layup to make it a two-point game.
After Driscoll hit a jumper for the Falcons, a late layup from Chase (off a feed from Foss) pulled Wells within two, 33-31, heading for the final stanza.
Where the Falcons did just enough to prevail.
Freeport got off to a fast start in the fourth period, as Smith drove and banked home a leaner and Smith threw a gorgeous pass to Driscoll for a layup and a six-point lead.
The Warriors got two points back at the line from Chase, but with 6:48 to go, Falcons senior Taylor Dostie hit a baseline jumper to make it 39-33.
After a layup from Aromando, Smith kept possession alive with an offensive rebound, then fed Goodman for a contested shot which she hit while being fouled before adding the add-one free throw for the Falcons’ biggest lead, 42-35.
Aromando got a point back at the free throw line, but Freeport’s defense didn’t allow another point for nearly four minutes.
Then, with 1:43 to go, Driscoll fed Smith for a layup and the Falcons were up, 44-36.
But just when it appeared the win was locked up, Wells refused to fold.
After a Ramsdell steal, Schneider made a layup with 36.9 seconds left to cut the deficit to six.
The Warriors got the ball right back and eight seconds later, Foss hit two foul shots to make it 44-40.
After Smith was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, Wells raced down the floor and Ramsdell made a layup with 18.7 seconds showing to cut the deficit to two.
Freeport was able to inbound the ball to Goodman, who was fouled, but her free throw attempt went in and out and the Warriors got the rebound and suddenly, they had a chance to steal it.
Until Bogue Marlow stole it from them.
As Wells tried to get the ball up the court, Bogue Marlow made her move, stole a pass and raced into the front court.
“Coach put me in for defense,” said Bogue Marlow. “I baited (the pass) and it was just instinct.”
Bogue Marlow was fouled with 7.4 seconds to go and went to the line for a one-and-one. Had she missed one or both attempts, Wells would have still had a chance to extend the game, but Bogue Marlow calmly sank her first try, then buried the second, which was the dagger.
“I was super nervous,” Bogue Marlow said. “I missed free throws earlier in the game. Everyone was screaming. I was just trying to pretend I was back at our home court during practice.”
“We did not execute our end of game strategy at all, but thank goodness for Jo, with a big steal and two free throws,” Hart said. “I knew if we could hit free throws it would be difficult for them to come back. Smitty stepped up and it was in-and-out and Allie stepped up and it was in-and-out, so we needed a burst of energy and (Jo) made a great read off that bounce pass, had the steal and hit two big free throws.”
One final steal, this one by Driscoll, iced it and the Falcons raced on to the floor to celebrate their palpitating 46-42 victory.
“It’s awesome,” Goodman said. “It’s a huge win for us. A huge step forward for our program. I’m really excited. This was a different environment. I was a little nervous, but it was fun. Jo came up really big with that steal and hit the free throws. That was huge.”
“Wells was scrappy,” Hart said. “They’re a good team. We beat them in our gym, with that environment on Senior Night, and we knew we wouldn’t have that today. That was worth 10 points at least. I feel we did a better job on Ramsdell this time. They got a lot of points in transition last time. They made a great adjustment on us playing 2-3 zone. We struggled with that in the second quarter. If we can shoot jump shots, we become very tough because we’re strong inside.”
Freeport had a balanced attack, as Goodman led all scorers with 12 points (she also had six rebounds and three assists), Smith added 11 (to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals), Driscoll 10 (to go with seven rebounds, four steals and three assists), Cormier seven (to go with two blocked shots), Bogue Marlow four (as well as one monumental steal) and Dostie two.
The Falcons made just one 3-point shot and turned the ball over 15 times, but held a 29-28 rebounding advantage and made 7 of 11 foul shots.
Wells was led by nine points apiece from Ramsdell and Schneider (eight rebounds), Tufts added seven points (and five rebounds), Foss six (with six steals), Aromando five (with five rebounds), Chase four and O’Brien two.
The Warriors made 8 of 14 free throws and turned the ball over 23 times.
“We were down two and had the basketball and that’s all you can ask for,” said Wells coach Don Abbott. “I would have loved to have won the game, but it was a fun game to be in. That’s what Maine high school tournament basketball is all about. I felt like two weeks ago when we played them, we played tentative and not to lose. Today, we played to win. We laid it on the line and kept coming.
“Both teams hang their hat on defense. We took it as a personal affront that we gave up 60 to them (last time). We wanted this game played in the 40s. No one slowed the game down, but the intensity was there. They’re about their pressure and traps. We try to be sound in the halfcourt.
“Sometimes a 10 in the morning game has a sterile environment, but the girls acquitted themselves well. The girls who are coming back got a taste of what this thing is all about.”
Freeport will get another stern test Thursday.
On Jan. 9, the Falcons won, 55-42, at the Knights. The teams have no playoff history.
“It’s kind of scary,” said Bogue Marlow. “We haven’t played (at Cross Insurance Arena) yet. The depth perception is different, but we’ll get used to it.”
“We’re really looking forward to playing again on Thursday,” Goodman said. “We need to bring our intensity and we need to come out strong and set the tone.”
“For me, it’s all about getting past the first game,” added Hart. “It’s huge mentally for this group to win. It won’t get any easier from here on out, but it will be fun.”
Freeport senior Allie Goodman, who had a game-high 12 points, handles the ball.
Freeport senior Taylor Rinaldi races up the floor.
Freeport senior Jessie Driscoll soars over a defender for a shot. Driscoll had 10 points.
Freeport senior Johanna Bogue Marlow dribbles past a Wells defender.
Freeport sophomore Caroline Smith makes a key fourth quarter layup.
Freeport senior Johanna Bogue Marlow races up the court after her late, game-saving steal.
Freeport coach Mike Hart (arms raised) and several Falcons celebrate at the final horn.
2012 Western B preliminary round
Wells 50 Freeport 33
1976 Western C semifinal
Freeport 60 Wells 46