Massabesic’s McKenzy Ouellette puts up a shot over Noble’s Raegan Kelly (11) and Amy Fleming (24) during Thursday’s Class AA South girls basketball game. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

Massabesic’s McKenzy Ouellette puts up a shot over Noble’s Raegan Kelly (11) and Amy Fleming (24) during Thursday’s Class AA South girls basketball game. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

NORTH BERWICK — Trailing by 14 after the opening quarter, the Massabesic Mustangs turned up the pressure on the host Noble Knights during Thursday’s Class AA South girls basketball showdown.

Massabesic outscored Noble 30-16 over the second and third quarters to tie the score and the Mustangs would close it out in the fourth as they picked up a 51-49 victory over the Knights.

Noble’s Amy Fleming goes up for a shot over Massabesic’s Madi Drain during Thursday’s game. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

Noble’s Amy Fleming goes up for a shot over Massabesic’s Madi Drain during Thursday’s game. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

“We didn’t match their energy. I think they were outworking us and outexecuting us,” said Massabesic coach Chris Aube on his team’s first-quarter struggles.

Aube knew the rare morning start time could be a problem, but he was impressed with how his team rebounded after the first eight minutes.

“I’ve been coaching girls a long time and 11:30 games usually aren’t the prettiest,” said Aube. “I thought we had some kids step up. I challenged them between quarters to match their effort. That’s the only thing we can control and I think we did that.”

Noble’s full-court pressure certainly haunted the Mustangs in the first quarter, but Aube also noticed that his team’s press defense was backfiring.

“I think both their guards were doing a nice job on our full-court pressure, so we made a decision … we softened it and kept five defenders in front of them and looked to maybe turn them over a little bit more in the half court,” Aube said.

The Mustangs forced several turnovers in the second quarter — and McKenzy Ouellette scored eight of her game-high 24 points — as they outscored Noble 17-7 to cut the lead to 23-19 at the break.

“They turned up their pressure and intensity, but certainly foul trouble hurts,” said Noble coach Matt Reid, who saw several of his players pick up multiple fouls in the first half.

“Some of it is the execution of the press, it’s rotating and knowing where to be and when to be there. It’s practice, it’s reps, we’ll keep working at it,” Reid added.

Ouellette scored six more points in the third quarter as the Mustangs went on a 13-9 run in the period to send the game into the fourth tied at 32-all.

Both teams had their chances in the final quarter, but it would be the Mustangs who seized the moment. Ouellette scored eight more points in the period and Marissa Holt had a big 3-pointer and two foul shots to help Massabesic complete the comeback.

Aube felt the Mustangs’ conditioning was key to their victory.

“We are a pretty well-conditioned basketball team, and I think fatigue gets to teams and I think we had that today,” said Aube.

It was a tough loss for the Knights, but Reid was impressed with his team’s effort from start to finish.

“There’s no quit in this group, absolutely, we’re never going to do that,” said Reid. “We’re going to keep battling, keep grinding and that’s what we’ll do going forward.”

Aube was happy to get the victory and hopes the Mustangs can continue to improve as they try to make a run at the playoffs.

“It’s a tough league. Eight out of the nine make it so we’re jockeying to get into a favorable tournament position if we can get one which is something these kids have never experienced. That’s certainly one of our goals,” said Aube.

Massabesic, which got 10 points from both Holt and Noelle DesVergnes, will visit Windham on Tuesday.

Noble was led by Amy Fleming with 14 points and five assists. Raegan Kelly added eight points and six rebounds, while Tori Exel had seven points and eight boards and Liz Hamel finished with eight points.

The Knights, who also got six points from Bella Reil, will host Scarborough on Tuesday night.

 — Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.


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