OLD ORCHARD BEACH - Not every basketball game is going to be pretty. Sometimes, both teams play hard enough defensively to make the game a struggle.
That was the case Thursday night, as Freeport defeated Old Orchard Beach 51-37 in a Western Maine Conference girls' basketball game.
The smaller Seagulls did everything they could to take away Freeport's size advantage. The Falcons, meanwhile, retaliated with quick feet and long arms to force OOB into 26 turnovers -- 17 in the second half when Freeport pulled away.
"That's what we pride ourselves on," said Jim Seavey, the first-year coach of the Falcons. "We're going to be sound defensively. And even then there were a few points where we just broke down and got lazy.
"When we play defense with our feet we're as good as anybody. When we start standing and reaching, we're an average team. And in the second half I thought we did a much better job playing with our feet."
The victory lifted Freeport to 12-6. Old Orchard Beach dropped to 13-5.
Both teams are awaiting their final tournament seedings, though it appears the Seagulls will earn a bye in the Western Class C preliminary round as the No. 3 seed and head directly to the Augusta Civic Center. Freeport is hoping for a home game in the Western Class B preliminary round.
Freeport led 18-13 at the half, as neither team was able to solve the other's defense.
The Falcons began to pull away in the third. Nina Davenport, who led all scorers with 18 points, scored eight in the third quarter, and the Falcons forced nine OOB turnovers.
"Obviously we weren't in sync in the first half," said Seavey. "We started to execute better and we got the game going more up-and-down the floor better, which suits our style."
In one stretch, the Falcons forced six consecutive turnovers. But, because the Seagulls were playing as aggressively on defensive, Freeport was only able to increase its lead by a basket.
"Our kids battle," said OOB Coach Dean Plante. "We're 11 guards deep, but they play bigger than they are. Very athletic, very tenacious kids."
It wasn't until late in the third quarter, when Davenport sneaked away for a layup and Jocelyn Davee powered in for another, that the Falcons began to shake the Seagulls.
OOB stayed as close as it did with some long-range shooting. The Seagulls hit seven 3-pointers, including three each from Christina Colman (13 points) and Daphne Allen.
Allen's second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, with 4:13 remaining, pulled the Seagulls within 38-30.
But reserve Vanessa Lee scored two big inside baskets for the Falcons to regain the momentum and help them finish the season with six consecutive wins.
"We were 6-6 two-thirds of the way through and we had a little powwow," said Seavey. "We talked about how we could win out and hopefully get a home playoff game."
While Davenport continued to lead the Falcons, she had plenty of help. Leigh Wyman scored 12 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the first half when OOB collapsed inside on Davenport.
Davee added six points and was strong on the boards.
Abby Dubois scored 10 points for OOB, while Allen had nine.
"We were a little scattered at times," said Plante. "But Freeport had a lot to do with that. They're long and they can defend."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: