Freeport senior Jessie Driscoll drives on Wells senior Megan Schneider during Monday’s contest. The Falcons prevailed, 60-41, and improved to 14-3 on the season.
Ben McCanna / Press Herald photos.
More photos below.
W- 10 13 11 7- 41
F- 10 17 16 17- 60
W- Ramsdell 10-7-27, Foss 1-2-4, Schneider 2-0-4, Aromando 1-0-2, O’Brien 1-0-2, Tufts 1-0-2
F- Goodman 11-1-24, Driscoll 8-0-16, Rinaldi 2-2-6, Cormier 2-0-5, Smith 1-2-5, Bogue Marlow 1-0-3, Routhier 0-1-1
F (4) Bogue Marlow, Cormier, Goodman, Smith 1
FREEPORT—One of the best stories of the 2017-18 basketball season continues to get even better.
And if all goes well, the final chapter might be one for the ages.
The Freeport girls played their final home game Monday evening and in addition to honoring a collection of seniors who turned the program around, the Falcons went out and produced another victory.
Freeport shot to a quick 5-0 lead, but the visiting Wells Warriors, sparked by sophomore Franny Ramsdell, came back to tie the score, 10-10, after one period and went up by five early in the second quarter.
Then, the Falcons cranked up their pressure defense and behind 3-pointers from seniors Allie Goodman, Johanna Bogue Marlow and Megan Cormier, went on a 13-0 run to go on top to stay.
Freeport clung to a 27-23 advantage at halftime, but by the end of the third period, the Falcons extended it to 43-34 and they completely wore the Warriors down in the final stanza, pulling away for an impressive and historic 60-41 victory.
Freeport got 24 points from Goodman, 16 from senior Jessie Driscoll and improved to 14-3, the program’s most victories in a regular season in 26 years, and in the process, dropped Wells to 9-8.
“(The seniors) did a great job, all of them did,” said Falcons coach Mike Hart. “It’s fun to watch this group because five of them played for me from the word “go” and they’ve really helped push this program forward. Everyone but Allie, who transferred, has been with me from the get-go. I’m super-proud of them.”
This year’s senior class came in with Hart and turned the program around in stunning fashion.
After going 2-16 in 2014-15, the Falcons improved to 9-9 the following year and got to the Class B South quarterfinals, where they lost to Gray-New Gloucester.
Last winter, Freeport improved to 11-7, won a preliminary round playoff game, then was eliminated again by the Patriots, who went on to win the Class B state championship.
“I had a lot of high hopes for them (as freshmen),” Hart said. “They were athletic kids. We weren’t organized yet defensively. If you have athletic kids, if you teach them where to be and put them in a position to be successful, they’re going to be successful.”
This season, the Falcons have passed almost every test and have steadily improved as the season has progressed.
Freeport opened with a 55-30 victory at Sacopee Valley. After falling at home to Gray-New Gloucester (57-45), the Falcons won at Yarmouth (44-35), at home over Traip Academy (54-27), Lincoln Academy (65-30) and Old Orchard Beach (56-46) and at Poland (55-42) before coming back to earth with an 80-41 loss at Greely. That was a mere hiccup, as Freeport bounced back to down visiting Mt. Ararat (53-39) and host Morse (65-40), visiting Yarmouth (46-36), host Waynflete (58-46), visiting Fryeburg Academy (54-22) and Cape Elizabeth (59-40). After their seven-game win streak was snapped by a single point at York (46-45), the Falcons went to Naples and downed always-tough Lake Region, 59-47, their first victory over the Lakers this century.
Wells, meanwhile, has been competitive in virtually all seven of its losses and came to Freeport on a four-game win streak.
Last year, the Warriors beat the visiting Falcons, 57-47.
Monday, in front of a raucous full house, which included the Freeport band, the seniors and their parents were honored.
Then, Wells looked to extend its win streak over Freeport to six games, but the Falcons downed the Warriors for the first time since Dec. 18, 2012 (52-33 at home) and produced their 14th victory for the first time since the 1991-92 season.
Freeport started fast, as sophomore Caroline Smith sank a 3 and Goodman put home a miss, but Ramsdell countered with consecutive layups.
After Driscoll made a layup (off a pass from Smith), senior Megan Schneider scored on a putback for the Warriors and Ramsdell made another layup for the visitors’ first lead.
Goodman countered with a layup, but Ramsdell made another layup after a steal.
Late in the frame, a free throw from Falcons sophomore Lindsay Routhier forged a 10-10 tie after eight minutes.
Ramsdell led all scorers with eight points in the quarter.
In the second period, Wells started fast, but Freeport erupted for 13 straight points to take the lead.
The Warriors went up on a Ramsdell layup after a steal and when Ramsdell converted an old-fashioned three-point play (layup, foul, free throw) with 6:34 left in the half, the lead was five, but Wells wouldn’t score for nearly five minutes and the Falcons, who cranked up the defensive intensity and forced multiple turnovers, took advantage.
A 3 from Goodman and a pair of free throws from senior Taylor Rinaldi tied the score.
Bogue Marlow then hit a 3 for the lead, Driscoll hit a short jumper after a steal and with 1:55 left in the half, a 3 from Cormier, the first of her high school career, put Freeport on top by eight, 23-15.
Thirteen seconds later, the Warriors snapped the run with a Ramsdell layup. A pair of free throws from junior Mackenzie Foss cut the deficit to four, but Goodman set up Rinaldi for a layup.
After senior Leah Tufts made a bank shot for the visitors, Goodman answered with a jumper, but with 17.7 seconds to go, Foss made a layup to pull Wells back within four points, 27-23, at the break.
In the first half, the teams combined for 29 turnovers (the Warriors had 16). Ramsdell led all scorers with 15 points, while the Falcons were paced by nine from Goodman.
In the third quarter, Wells tried to rally and Freeport kept fighting it off.
Ramsdell picked up where she left off by making a layup to start the third quarter. After a leaner and a transition jumper from Goodman, Smith fed Driscoll for a layup and a 33-25 lead with 5:57 left in the frame.
Back came the Warriors, as Ramsdell made two free throws, then sank two more to cut the deficit to four, but Goodman stemmed the tide with a jumper in the lane and in transition, Driscoll banked home a shot to make it 37-29.
After Ramsdell made a free throw, Driscoll scored again, on a leaner.
With 2:20 to go in the third, Foss set up junior Delaney O’Brien for a layup, but Goodman answered with a putback.
Schenider got a jumper to rattle in with 51.6 seconds on the clock, but with 17.6 seconds remaining, Goodman went up for a leaner in traffic and got it to drop tor a 43-34 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
There, Freeport ended all doubt and pulled away.
Goodman started the final stanza with a puback and after Ramsdell made one of two free throws, Driscoll hit a jumper in the lane, Cormier made a jump shot and Goodman scored on a putback while being fouled and added a free throw for the three-point play and a commanding 52-35 advantage with 4:14 to go.
After Ramsdell scored on a putback, Driscoll hit a bank shot, Smith made two foul shots and Goodman set up Driscoll for another layup and a 58-37 lead with 2:21 remaining.
Down the stretch, Ramsdell made a layup and freshman Mallory Aromando hit a runner before Rinaldi made a layup to bring the curtain down on the Falcons’ 60-41 victory.
“We had to come out strong in the second half,” Driscoll said. “We wanted to pull away and make a statement that we’re a contender. We came out with a big win. It was unbelievable to play in this atmosphere. You make a basket and everyone lights up, it’s just incredible.”
“We wanted to close out the game and keep pushing hard in transition and look for open shots, execute on our cuts and make plays down the stretch,” Goodman said. “It was a very emotional night. It’s great coming in senior year and being accepted. I’ve had a great time here so far. I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve gotten to play.”
“Tonight was a big test in front of a big crowd,” Hart added. “It was a tournament atmosphere. I was very impressed. The kids didn’t worry about the crowd. They weren’t afraid of the limelight. We didn’t lose our composure.
“With Senior Night, you have a lot of emotions. I didn’t really want to come out hot out of the gate, so we played a little bit soft. I noticed a couple times in the trap, they didn’t necessarily like it, so we extended up and put pressure on the ball and that turned out to be good for us. We started to rebound on the offensive side of the ball. Our defensive pressure was good again. When we box out and close out defensive possessions, we’re tough.”
Goodman had a team-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds for a double-double. She also had six assists and a pair of steals.
“I’m getting the flow more, the movement of the offense,” Goodman said.
“Allie has taken that mid-range jump shot in transition and it’s tough to stop,” Hart said. “She can be deadly. She’s a tough player, a good passer, a good ball-handler. Huge game for her tonight.”
Driscoll impressed with 16 points, seven boards and three steals.
“Jessie is a super-athletic kid,” Hart said. “She had some super back cuts. When she works hard to the rim, she’s difficult to stop. She had all kinds of athletic potential as a freshman and she’s turned into a very good player. She’s a great rebounder, a great jumper.”
Rinaldi added six points (as well as four rebounds and two steals), Cormier five, Smith five (to go with four assists), Bogue Marlow three (as well as three steals) and Routhier one.
The Falcons had a 31-26 rebounding advantage, overcame 19 turnovers and hit 6 of 10 foul shots.
Wells was led by Ramsdell, who had a game-high 27 points, as well as four steals.
“Fran has a chance to be a spectacular player,” Warriors coach Don Abbott said. “She continues to get better and better. She wants the ball in her hands. As a sophomore, you like to have a kid like that who’s willing to go to the basket.”
Foss and Schneider each added four points, while Aromando, O’Brien and Tufts had two apiece.
The Warriors hit 9 of 12 free throws, but were done in by 26 turnovers.
“Their defensive pressure ended up wearing us down a little bit,” Abbott said. “That’s the style they play and they try to commit to that for 32 minutes. Some nights, it’s really effective and I think as the game wore on, their length and strength bothered us. Credit to them for playing a good game. I saw Mike’s mentor, (Maine Basketball Hall of Fame coach) Tommy Maines, sitting in the corner there and I knew I’d see 2-2-1 (zone) pressure all night long. It’s one thing to know it’s coming and it’s another when you have five good athletes who commit to it.
“It wasn’t just their pressure, but they started executing offensively. They cut well and they made shots. When you get a team like that shooting a high percentage, that’s tough to beat.
“There was a great atmosphere in here tonight. It was great for my girls to get to play in that.”
Wells (ranked seventh in the Class B South Heal Points standings) finishes its regular season Thursday at home versus York, then looks to make some noise in the postseason.
“There’s no clear cut favorite,” Abbott said. “We’re reasonably confident we’ll get in, then we’ll do our best. It should be a fun tournament. I think it’s wide open. A lot of it will be matchup-based and who plays with poise and composure. I’m looking forward to it.”
Freeport has a chance to post a 15th victory in the regular season for the first time since the 1988-89 season when it plays at Gray-New Gloucester Thursday.
“We look to come out with everything we’ve got Thursday,” Goodman said. “We have to play our game, stick to what we know.”
A win in that game would likely give the Falcons the number one seed for the tournament as well and a great opportunity to advance beyond the quarterfinal round for the first time since the 1976-77 campaign.
Quite a story.
And it’s not finished.
“It’s sad because it’s the last time I’ll play in this gym, but we have Gray Thursday, then hopefully we have a long life in the tournament and hopefully the end of the season doesn’t come anytime soon,” Driscoll said. “We’ve come really far. Our teamwork is awesome and Coach is great. He knows how to play to our strengths. We’ll do what we can to prepare. We have to come to compete. We think we can do it.”
“We’ve got to control what we can control,” Hart said. “We’ll go out and play our hardest. We want the number one seed. We’re focused on that. We look to get after it.”
Freeport senior Allie Goodman is defended by Wells freshman Mallory Aromando. Goodman had a team-high 24 points.
Freeport senior Taylor Rinaldi plays defense.
Freeport senior Allie Goodman catches a pass as Wells sophomore Franny Ramsdell looks on.
Freeport’s seniors and their parents were honored before the contest.