MORSE FORWARD Emma Harrington, center, battles for the ball with Mt. Ararat’s Rachael Eggleston, left, and Katelyn Cox (10) during a KVAC girls high school basketball game at Topsham on Tuesday. The Shipbuilders won, 41-39.

MORSE FORWARD Emma Harrington, center, battles for the ball with Mt. Ararat’s Rachael Eggleston, left, and Katelyn Cox (10) during a KVAC girls high school basketball game at Topsham on Tuesday. The Shipbuilders won, 41-39.

TOPSHAM

For the entire second half of Tuesday night’s high school girls basketball game, Mt. Ararat was on the comeback trail against rival Morse.

The visiting Shipbuilders took a nine-point lead into the final quarter, but saw Mt. Ararat jump out to an 8-2 run to start the frame. When the Eagles finally tied the game with 19 seconds left, the score didn’t even hold up for a full second.

MT. ARARAT GUARD Sara Lamb tries to get to the basket past Morse defenders Emma Harrington (21), Sierra Wallace (13) and Noa Sreden (33).

MT. ARARAT GUARD Sara Lamb tries to get to the basket past Morse defenders Emma Harrington (21), Sierra Wallace (13) and Noa Sreden (33).

Morse’s Signe Ostergaard was fouled and hit two clutch free throws that ultimately sealed the deal for the Shipbuilders, giving them a 41-39 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win.

“It was a little ugly, but I’ve got to give credit to Mt. Ararat,” Morse coach Becky Roak said. “They were scrappy. They weren’t dying and they shot the ball a little bit better being at home. With our senior leadership, they were able to keep composure when they had to, and step up to the free-throw line and hit some big free throws. That’s a back-breaker there. When you’re in the foul game and you get to the free-throw line and actually make them, it hurts them.”

After a slow start in the first half, Mt. Ararat (1-8) came out with high pressure and forced 14 Morse (5-4) turnovers in the second. A bucket, stolen in-bound pass and another bucket sparked the 8-2 run that pulled the Eagles within three, and a Sara Lamb steal-and-finish on the other end tied the game for the first time since early in the first quarter.

“In the fourth quarter we hit 16 points and shot it with confidence,” Mt. Ararat coach Andy Morris said. “We started attacking more and I think we were a little more patient. Instead of settling for a 19-foot 3-pointer, we settled for 15 and it worked for us.”

“We picked up our defense,” Lamb said. “Our intensity really picked up and I think that helped a lot.”

But, like they had almost all game, it was the Morse bigs inside that blocked the passage to the rim on the Eagles final possession of the game. A near turnover resulted in a quick dish-out to Lamb in the corner, whose potential winning shot went in but was released just after the buzzer.

The Shipbuilders dominated the glass all night, hauling in 51 total rebounds, almost half of which were offensive. Senior forward Emma Harrington, who led all scorers with 15 points, reeled in 19 of those boards and had her double-double by halftime. Marissa Parks grabbed nine.

“That was our big focus,” Roak said. “Pounding, pounding where we did have the size. Unfortunately we weren’t too finesse at the rim. We didn’t finish a lot, however we got it done when we needed to. That’s where we had to go, and that’s where we knew we would win.”

“In practice, post play is definitely a big part,” Harrington said. “We have a lot of post players this year, so it’s really awesome. A lot of it is moving on the block, getting it in when we know we have the size advantage, and I think we capitalized on that today.”

Strong Morse finish

The first half ended with three straight buckets for Harrington, including a step-back bank shot at the buzzer. The Shipbuilders shot 38 percent from the floor and scored a bulk of their points from second-chance opportunities inside. Only 13-of-21 free-throw attempts fell, but six of them came in the final minutes of the decisive fourth quarter.

For Mt. Ararat, it was sophomore guard Lauren Sturgess leading the way with 12 points and a pair of rebounds. Kate Guerin had nine points and Lamb chipped in with seven. The Eagles shot 32 percent from the field and made three treys.

To combat the size difference, Morris and Mt. Ararat swung the ball around the arc and opened up shooters outside. Lamb, Sturgess and Guerin all hit buckets in the game-tying run late in the fourth quarter. Lamb said the lack of size isn’t anything new for the Eagles, and that they just have to “play like we’re 6-feet tall” because every game is that way.

“We like to pass and go through and wait for that next fill person that fills on the outside,” Morris said. “We just keep passing and passing. I think we did a pretty good job compressing their zone. We just try and keep the ball moving and fill in where the empty spots are.”

“They play with such heart,” Roak said of Mt. Ararat. “Defensively, they’re all over it, and they’re not just going to lay down and die. They really play hard defensively. Offensively, they’re tough because they can hit from the perimeter. They’re really versatile, and we struggle sometimes with keeping them in front. They’re a good little team and they play hard.”

The two teams had 13 and 14 made field goals, respectively, but it was the missed shots that proved more important. Mt. Ararat managed just five offensive rebounds on the night, and no starter tallied more than four boards.

“We knew we had to box out and hold our ground,” Morris said. “They still crushed us on the boards, but we fought. We did not make it easy on them. That kind of help keep us involved in the game.”

The road victory is Morse’s first of the season, and Harrington said to pull out such a close road game against a rival will be a morale boost for the team. The Shipbuilders host Camden Hills on Friday at 7 p.m.

“We’re really good at pulling out last-minute stops,” Harrington said. “It was just a team effort that brought it together.”

Morse 41, Mt. Ararat 39

At Mt. Ararat High School

Morse 11 14 7 9 41
Mt. Ararat 9 9 5 16 39

Morse — Sierra Wallace 3-0-7, Emma Harrington 6-3-15, Signe Ostergaard 1-4-6, Isabelle Paulus 1-0-2, Katie Moore 1-2-4, Marissa Parks 1-2-4, Noa Sreden 1-1-3, Emma Gould 0-0-0. Totals — 14-12-41.

Mt. Ararat — Lauren Sturgess 3-4-11, Sara Lamb 3-1-7, Kate Guerin 3-3-9, Nikki Bradstreet 2-0-5, Taylor Wienckowski 0-0-0, Ashley Parker 0-0-0, Katelyn Cox 1-0-3, Sabrina Paetow 0-0-0, Rachel Eggleston 1-0-2, Lauren Labbay 0-0-0, Ainsley Bryant 1-0-2. Totals — 14-8-39. 3-point field goals — (Mo) Sierra Wallace; (MtA) Lauren Sturgess, Nikki Bradstreet, Katelyn Cox.

Records — Morse 5-4, Mt. Ararat 1- 8. Up next for the Shipbuilders — Friday at home against Camden Hills, 7 p.m. Up next for the Eagles — Tuesday at Lewiston, 7 p.m.


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