The loud cheer from the Morse High girls’ basketball team’s locker room was understandable Monday night.

Not only had the Shipbuilders won their first playoff game since the 2009-10 season, but it came against rival Brunswick.

No. 5 Morse fought off a late challenge to beat the fourth-ranked Dragons 42-37 in the Class A South quarterfinals at the Portland Expo. The Shipbuilders built a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, watched Brunswick come back to tie the game and then regrouped to gain the victory.

“We had heart the whole time,” said Morse guard Sierra Wallace, who led all scorers with 14 points. “We were out there as a team, we played as a team, we moved the ball as a team, played defense as a team, talked to each other, kept each other up. We knew it could go either way and we wanted it on our side.”

Morse (11-8) will play York in the regional semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cross Insurance Arena. Brunswick finished 11-8.

The teams split in the regular season so a close game was expected. And it was close for most of the first three quarters. The Shipbuilders, who hadn’t made the playoffs the last four years, appeared to take control in the third, opening a 29-15 lead. But Emily Black helped the Dragons cut the lead to 29-21 entering the fourth.

There, Morse again surged ahead, leading 34-21 on a Wallace basket with 6:32 left. Brunswick, which hadn’t been able to crack Morse’s 1-3-1 zone, then made a 13-0 run that included three long 3-pointers. Madeline Suhr, who had eight of her 13 points in the fourth, tied the game at 34 with a steal and layup with 4:24 left.

Morse then scored the next six points – a foul shot by Emma Harrington, banked-in 3-pointer by Noa Sreden and two foul shots by Signe Ostergaard – to take a 40-34 lead with 3:02 left.

Black got a layup and Brooke Barter a foul shot to pull the Dragons within 40-37 with 19 seconds left. But Wallace hit two foul shots with 10 seconds left to clinch it for Morse.

Morse Coach Becky Roak said her team showed a lot of poise down the stretch.

“That’s the most important thing we talked about before the game,” she said. “I told them, ‘Yes you are on a big stage and you haven’t been there before. But it’s basketball. Go out and continue to do what you do well and we’ll be fine.’ “


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