BATH – The Morse girls’ basketball team used its trademark ballhawking defense and strong outside shooting to run out to a 15-5 first-quarter lead, then went on to defeat Brunswick 44-36 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game Thursday night.

It was a regular-season finale, rivalry game and senior night all rolled into one, and Morse senior Tarra Burr admitted to having jitters before the opening tip-off.

“It was the only time I felt nervous before a game, knowing it was our last one in this gym, but we had to fight through it.”

Burr, who had 10 points, came up with two of the Shipbuilders’ seven steals in the first quarter, fed Tori Field for a 3-pointer for the game’s first points and closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer of her own.

Nikoline Ostergaard, who finished with 14 points, scored five and blocked two shots, and Emma Block contributed four points and three steals as Morse went up by 10.

“Coach (Michael Hart) always says that defense wins games,” said Burr. “He wants us to get in their faces and make it hard for them to see the floor.”

After Kerry Cummings converted two foul shots to give Morse its largest lead at 17-5 early in the second, Tianna Burton (11 points) drove and dished off to Emily Bryant for a 3-pointer for Brunswick.

A basket by Lydia Caputi off a nice pass from Dakota Foster and free throws by Bryant and Burton cut the deficit to 18-13, but Field scored on an offensive rebound and Burr hit a 3-pointer to restore Morse’s lead to 10.

“It was a bit methodical at the start,” said Hart. “They came out with a 1-3-1 defense but we did a good job of attacking that with our outside shooting and brought them out of it.”

A 3-pointer by Burton and a basket by Bryant at the buzzer closed the gap to 24-18 at the halftime break. Brunswick was plagued by 16 turnovers in the first half, including three second-quarter steals by Cummings.

After a basket by Foster off an offensive rebound by Burton and another offensive rebound and basket by Caputi drew the Dragons to within 27-22 in the third, Field hit a 3-pointer, Burr banked in a shot off a steal and Ostergaard scored after another steal as Morse (17-1) spurted to a 34-22 advantage.

It was 34-24 after three periods and Brunswick (12-6) twice cut the deficit to five, on a Bryant 3-pointer and again on a drive by Burton (10 points).

“It was a tough game but that’s the way it should be,” said Hart. “We had some early foul trouble, but (Cummings), Sadia Crosby and Lindsay Watts gave us some valuable minutes off the bench to keep us in the game.”

“We did a good job of passing the ball to them,” said Brunswick Coach Sam Ferrell, “but the girls kept fighting. We were only down by six at the half and if we had made some baskets, we could have had the lead. You’ve got to make shots.”