MT. ARARAT'S MALLORY NELSON (42, left photo) goes to the basket with Edward LIttle's Brooke Reynolds defending during a KVAC girls basketball opener at Topsham on Friday. Nelson had 32 points as the Eagles won 55-52. In the top photo, Mt. Ararat's Olivia Swan (22) passes over Edward LIttle's Calli Murray.

MT. ARARAT’S MALLORY NELSON (42, left photo) goes to the basket with Edward LIttle’s Brooke Reynolds defending during a KVAC girls basketball opener at Topsham on Friday. Nelson had 32 points as the Eagles won 55-52. In the top photo, Mt. Ararat’s Olivia Swan (22) passes over Edward LIttle’s Calli Murray.

TOPSHAM

There was little reason to believe Kelly LaFountain’s Mt. Ararat High School girls basketball team was going to come out on top in Friday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference opener against Edward Little.

 

 

Down 51-43 with 2:22 remaining, all the Red Eddies had to do was spread the floor, make some free throws and leave with a 1-0 record in a battle of two teams expected to make some noise this season.

But, Mallory Nelson and her Eagle teammates had other ideas, going on a gamefinishing 12-1 run for a stunning 55-52 victory.

“This one was huge in the fact that we got down to a very good team and they were able to fight back possession by possession and give us a chance to win,” said LaFountain, whose 1-0 Eagles visit Oxford Hills on Tuesday.

Nelson’s performance was epic.

She scored a game-high 32 points, 15 in the final quarter, nine in the last 90 seconds, including a go-ahead threepoint play with 18 seconds left

Mt. Ararat trailed by as many as 13 points (39-26) in the second half, and seemed out of it after EL’s Ashlee Arnold (22 points, six steals) made a pair of free throws for a 51-43 lead.

Nelson began her team’s run with a layup, and Caitlin LaFountain, who was limited due to foul trouble, made a short jumper to get the Eagles to 51-47. Kory Norcross made a free throw to put the Red Eddies up 52-47, but Nelson drove the lane two straight times down the court to get the Eagles to within one point, 52-51 with 20 seconds remaining.

Willey’s tip of the ensuing inbounds pass followed, sending the Mt. Ararat gym into a frenzy as Nelson hit the winning shot. Caitlin LaFountain’s free throw made for a 55-52 contest, and Kate Sawyer’s desperation shot at the buzzer was off the mark to end it.

“That happened here last year, and I just watched her eyes and made my move,” said Willey of her steal, one of five for the senior guard. “They (EL) were hitting everything in the third quarter, so we had to pick it up and we did tonight. We were able to get offensive and defensive rebounds, which was key.”

Mt. Ararat finished with a 38-28 edge on the glass, with Nelson’s nine caroms a teamhigh. Nelson also dished out four assists, with Lindsey Cornelison chipping in eight points and Caitlin LaFountain seven.

“We missed a couple free throws, but I was very disappointed in our defense,” said Edward Little (0-1) coach Craig Jipson, who watched his team go just 12-of-22 from the foul line and allow the Eagles to shoot 56 percent (14 of 25) from the floor in the second half. “They were scoring in eight seconds, and we talked in the huddle of having them run off 30, 40 seconds, but Nelson played like a warrior and absolutely took over the game and made some big shots. Mt. Ararat is very good and they did a good job.”

Mt. Ararat opened the game quickly, with Nelson providing a preview of things to come by scoring the Eagles’ first six points, and a short jumper by Mt. Ararat’s Chelsea Crawford made for an 8-1 contest three minutes in.

Jipson called a timeout, and his Red Eddies regrouped, going on a 7-0 run to tie the game, with Cornelison giving Mt. Ararat a 10-8 lead after a quarter.

Arnold began finding her range, giving the Red Eddies their first lead with a 3-pointer (11-10). She scored six points in the second quarter, giving Arnold a game-high 10 points at the break as EL took a 21-16 advantage to the intermission.

Mt. Ararat struggled from the field in the first half, making just 6-of-21 from the floor (28 percent), with Nelson leading the way with eight points.

Arnold continued to lead EL in the third quarter. Her 12 third-quarter points allowed the Red Eddies to build a game-high 13-point advantage, 39-26 late in the quarter, with EL holding a 41- 31 lead through 24 minutes.

Arnold’s last two points came at the line with 2:27 remaining, giving her 22 points and her team a 51-43 lead.

“Nelson used her size on us. We are not as big down below with our starters, and she took advantage of a couple us with foul trouble,” said Norcross, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.

Mt. Ararat shot 38 percent (20 of 52) from the floor. The Eagles were 14 of 20 at the charity stripe.

EL was 17 of 49 (34 percent) from the field.

Mt. Ararat 55,
Edward Little 52

At Topsham
Edward Little — 8 13 20 11 — 52
Mt. Ararat — 10 6 15 24 — 55
EL — Brooke Reynolds 2-0-4, Kate
Sawyer 2-0-6, Tianna Harriman 1-0-2,
Kory Norcross 5-3-14, Ashlee Arnold 5-
9-22, Calli Murray 1-0-2, Emily Jacques
1-0-2, Eraleena Hairston 0-0-0, Danielle
Rock 0-0-0, Sarah Hammond 0-0-0.
Totals — 17-12-52.
MTA — Chelsea Crawford 2-0-4, Katie
Labbay 1-2-4, Caitlin LaFountain 2-3-7,
Kristi Willey 0-0-0, Mallory Nelson 11-9-
32, Lindsey Cornelison 4-0-8, Micaela
Mitchell 0-0-0, Olivia Swan 0-0-0. Totals
— 20-14-58.
3-point field goals — (EL) Sawyer 2,
Norcross, Arnold 3; (MA) Nelson.
Records — Mt. Ararat 1-0, Edward Little
0-1.
Next — The Red Eddies host Cony on
Tuesday at 7 p.m., while the Eagles visit
Oxford Hills on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


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