TOPSHAM — With the game tied after three quarters, the Mt. Ararat Eagles took advantage of their size against the smaller Morse lineup and was able to hold off the visitors for a 55-50 victory in boys Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference high school basketball action Monday evening.

Mt. Ararat guard Max Spelke, left, moves past Morse’s Josh ter Mors (24) in Monday’s boys high school basketball game in Topsham. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

Senior Jared Balser netted a game-high 29 points, while pulling in 14 rebounds, including five fourth-quarter hauls to pace the 4-5 Eagles. Classmate Austin Damon registered five of his seven points in the final frame to help seal the victory.

“We wanted to make sure we controlled the boards with Jared and Austin,” Mt. Ararat coach David Dubreuil said.

The Eagles held the advantage in rebounds, 31-27.

“We’re small, we didn’t have a chance with him scoring that many points,” Morse coach Tom Maines said. “If we could have kept him to 15-18 points, we knew we had a chance.”

Morse (2-6) jumped out to a 5-0 lead minutes into the contest, and after missing their first six field goal attempts, the Eagles finally found the bottom of the net on a Damon layup and trailed the Shipbuilders 7-3 midway through the frame.

A Balser basket and treys from Will Kavanaugh and Nathan Taylor bolted the Eagles to a 13-9 advantage late in the quarter. But a pair of putbacks from Arius Eich and a hoop from Gabe Aucoin knotted the game at 15 after eight minutes of play.

Both teams struggled for points in the second quarter and the game saw six lead changes. Tom Warren grabbed four boards and sank a layup after an offensive rebound, while Josh ter Mors sank his second 3-point basket of the half to pull Morse within one.

The Eagles answered as they were benefactors of a Caleb Manuel three, and they went 3-for-4 from the line in the frame to take a slim one-point advantage into the halftime break, 25-24.

“They did an incredible job getting into the paint,” Dubreuil said of Morse. “They were dribble-driving to the paint, creating open shots, so we talked about it halftime so we could eliminate those outside shots of theirs, and for the most part, we did a pretty good job at it.”

Morse ties it up

Sean Roberts opened the half with a basket from behind the arc to push the Mt. Ararat lead to four, but after a pair of

Mt. Ararat’s Jared Balser (43) and Morse’s Arius Eich battle for a loose ball during Monday’s KVAC boys basketball game in Topsham. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

Balser layups, Warren’s two baskets and two made free throws tied the score once again at 32-32.

“They stayed right in it in the third quarter,” Balser said. “They were making their shots alongside ours.”

Balser kept making shots as well for the Eagles as he used his 6-foot-8-inch frame to take control of the boards and the scoreboard. Balser grabbed three offensive rebounds for putbacks while netting 12 third-quarter points, building the lead for the home team to six, 40-34, with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter.

“I knew I was getting looks to the hoop, so they just kept feeding me the ball,” Balser added.

“This week in practice we worked on things to guard him, he’s hard to guard a guy his size,” ter Mors said.

However, ter Mors was not phased by the pressures of being on the road in front of a large crowd. The freshman nailed two more 3-pointers to send the game to the final quarter all tied at 40.

“Being a freshman there was a lot of pressure,” ter Mors said. “We came in here with a lot of intensity and we kept it throughout the game.”

A Brogan Shaw hoop and another Eich offensive grab and putback gave the Shipbuilders a 44-42 lead minutes into the final quarter. On the next trip down the court for Mt. Ararat, Damon muscled his way through the lane, making the basket and hitting the ensuing free throw to give the Eagles the lead back at 45-44.

“We had some let-downs in the passing lanes,” Maines said.

The Shipbuilders did not go quietly, battling until the end. But another Damon basket put the home team up by six, and they held on for the victory.

“We still have some things to work on,” Dubreuil said. “But it was a good win at home and hopefully we can take this success to the next game.”

“With a new coach, we’re still learning the game style, but we’re getting there and we’ll soon win these close games,” ter Mors added.

“They’re still learning how to play the game,” Maines said. “Best thing about it was they didn’t quit, they’re learning.”

Morse was paced by Warren, who finished with 20 points, followed by ter Mors’ 12 and Eich’s 8. Warren also finished with 10 rebounds.

Mt. Ararat will play its fourth home game in eight days on Thursday when it hosts Camden Hills before traveling down Interstate 295 to take on Freeport Saturday for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

For Morse, it doesn’t get any easier as the Shipbuilders travel to Edward Little to take on the previously unbeaten Red Eddies (7-1) on Thursday before hosting Lincoln Academy on Saturday at 1 p.m.

 

 

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