Freeport struggled to rein in Cape Elizabeth’s Montana Braxton Monday night, Dec. 15. While the Falcons managed to thwart Braxton on occasion, she simply figured in too many opportunities, and ended the game with a contest-best 21 points. Fellow Capers Maddie Bowe and Hannah Sawyer heaped their own double-digit contributions onto the scoreboard to secure a decisive, 62-47 victory.

“I felt like we competed,” said Freeport head coach Mike Hart. “There were some lulls, at the beginning of the game and the start of the second half, when I called a timeout and asked the kids to play a little bit harder. But they rose to that occasion. We just need to get through that little mental lapse and start to build on great play. One possession at a time; if you have a bad one, let’s put it behind us.”

The road win bumps Cape to 2-1 on the season; they logged a narrow win over Wells, currently in last at 0-4, to open their schedule, but followed that up with a defeat at the hands of Gray-New Gloucester – currently in first, at 4-0.

The Falcons, meanwhile, slip to 0-4 as well. They’ve faced tough teams in the early going, though, including Poland, Greely and Fryeburg, and that record doesn’t necessarily reflect their on-court appearance. They look both organized and determined out there – at least they do for lengthy stretches.

So, for instance, even though the Capers entirely dominated the first quarter – they opened with an 18-2 run, including 10 by Braxton, to put Freeport immediately back on their heels – the Falcons showed resilience in the second, when they outscored Cape, 17-15. The points came from a plethora of players: Regan Lynch, Meghan Cormier, Kenzie Ackley, Morgan Karnes and Taylor Rinaldi with a crowd-pleasing three.

“I had to keep moving, for sure,” said Braxton. “It was one of these games where I wasn’t really standing still, I always had someone on me, so I’d definitely say movement was a big part of it, in terms of getting open to break the press and looking around to try to find those open passes when defense stepped up.”

But Freeport had barely dented the Capers’ lead, and the Falcons lost their mojo again in the third, when they managed only seven points to Cape’s 16. They slowed Braxton to a scoring crawl – she added just one two in the entire eight-minutes – but Sawyer and Bowe readily picked up where Braxton left off.

“It’s really important to not have a third-quarter lull,” said Bowe. “We’ve definitely experienced that in the past. We needed to make sure to come out of the locker room and really go for it, like we did in the first quarter.”

“I think the big thing for us is, we had some mental mistakes that led to easy buckets for them – kind of backbreakers for us,” Hart said. “And those are the mistakes we need to get past to become a good basketball team. When we make those adjustments, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Fortunes reversed once again in the fourth, though: Freeport shut down all three of the Capers’ top-scorers, holding Braxton and Bowe to four apiece and Sawyer to nil, while kicking their own attack up a huge notch. The Falcons outscored Cape 17-9 in the period, including going eight-for-10 from the line.

“I think things are getting better,” said Sawyer of her team’s development. “We have a lot of new people, and people who’re getting time this year who didn’t as much. We have three people returning who were only varsity last year, as opposed to swingers or lower. It’s definitely a transition year.”

In the end, though, the Capers’ opening assault simply gave them too great an advantage; Freeport couldn’t put together the performance they needed to come back, though they nevertheless did a respectable job overall. The team, the school and fans should all take heart.

And this after losing four-year star Nina Davenport to graduation in June. Davenport was never a selfish player – not by any stretch; however, perhaps losing her has forced more Falcons to step up, diversifying the squad’s attack, while also giving opponents no clear defensive target.

Time will tell.

To Braxton’s 21, Bowe added 15 and Sawyer 13. Taylor Rinaldi hashed Freeport’s best tally on the night, 13, while Meghan Cormier added 10 and Regan Lynch 8.

Hart feels as though the team is progressing. “I do,” he said. “I have a high expectation, but the issue that I have is that we’ve learned so much, I’m changing a lot of how we did things last year. And the kids are coming along with that, but to be able to duplicate on the floor is different than being able to see it on the chalkboard.”

Cape’s Hannah Sawyer watches a shot and waits on a rebound; Freeport’s Bailey Karnes tries to shunt her aside. Sawyer had 13 for the Capers.Kate Breed drives up-court for the Capers in their win at Freeport Monday night.Montana Braxton gets air for the Capers; Braxton proved particularly troubling for the Falcons in the first half of the game, when she scored 15 of her 21 points.Freeporter Tayler Rinaldi carries the ball against Cape defender Montana Braxton. Rinaldi posted the Falcons’ high score on the night, 13.Kayla Belanger releases a midair shot near the baseline Monday evening.Freeport’s Kenzie Ackley throws up a shot underneath, but collides with Caper Maddie Bowe while doing so – and heads for the floor.

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