FREEPORT — Caroline Smith had just watched her Freeport High School girls basketball team play perhaps its worst four minutes of basketball this season in the third quarter of Friday’s Western Maine Conference game against rival Yarmouth.

An 11-point halftime lead had been reduced to a single point, with the Falcons committing 10 turnovers.

This is when the senior put her team on her back, scoring 23 of Freeport’s final 26 points in a 49-41 victory.

In all, Smith rattled off a career-high 35 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter that allowed the Falcons

Freeport forward Hannah Groves, right, blocks a shot by Kathryn Keaney of Yarmouth during Friday’s WMC matchup at Freeport. The host Falcons earned a 49-41 victory. (Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald)

to pull away from the Clippers (7-6) in front of a big home crowd.

“That was her best high school game,” said Freeport coach Seth Farrington after his Falcons improved to 10-2 and hosts Waynflete on Tuesday at 7 p.m. “She cared when the going got tough, and it shows what kind of player she is. We generated our offense through her, and it showed her capabilities.”

Smith gave the credit to her teammates and to Farrington.

“My teammates played really well, and coach was working to get me shots. Coach told me to be a leader and to keep that composure,” Smith said.

Leading 23-22 with 3:45 left in the third quarter, Freeport’s Rachel Wall sank 1-of-2 at the line to get the Falcons on the board in the second half.

From there, it was all about Smith. She drove inside and scored while being fouled for a 26-22 Falcon lead. Though she missed the free throw, the senior was just warming up.

“In that third quarter, we needed something and it worked out,” said Smith. “We played really sloppy, turning the ball over, and we had to stay positive and work together.”

Hope Olson and Avery May scored for Yarmouth to tie the game at 26. Smith again scored inside, with Clipper Margaret McNeil answering to again deadlock the contest.

Twice more Smith gave her team the lead in the third, including a short jumper for a 32-30 edge through 24 minutes. Smith stretched her streak of 14 straight points for her Falcons with a 6-3 run to open the fourth, giving Freeport a 38-33 lead.

“She took over. It was fun to watch,” said Farrington.

Yarmouth hung in behind McNeil, who scored all 10 of her points in the second half, including a 3-pointer to draw the Clippers to 38-36.

Hannah Groves got into the act for Freeport, making two at the free-throw line, and Smith answered an Olson bucket for a 42-38 edge with 2:47 remaining.

Smith made two at the line, and after Yarmouth missed a free throw, Smith was fouled and coolly stepped to the line and made two more for a 46-40 advantage with 55 seconds remaining.

The senior finished off her night by making two more at the stripe after a steal to finish off the eight-point win.

“It’s a good win for us, beating our rivals for a second time,” Smith said.

First half

Yarmouth came out strong, taking a 6-2 lead as Olson scored four points and Calin McGonagle powered inside for two.

Smith scored all 11 of Freeport’s points in the quarter, including the final four for an 11-8 Falcons lead.

Rachel Wall took over on the boards for the hosts in the second. She pulled down six of her team-high eight rebounds in the frame and scored four points, while Mason Baker-Schlendering came off the bench for six tough inside points.

Freeport’s defense turned it up a notch, forcing eight Yarmouth turnovers and holding the Clippers to just four second-quarter points in claiming a 23-12 halftime lead.

Then came a troublesome third quarter for Freeport, which turned the ball over 14 times and finished with 33 miscues.

“I have to do a better job at halftime,” said Farrington. “We made some adjustments, but sometimes being the head coach, you have to be better. Around the three-minute mark, we settled back in. But nothing is easy with this group. They just find ways to win.”

Freeport shot 50-percent from the field (17-of-34) and made 15-of-24 at the charity stripe. Wall finished with five points and three steals, with Catriona Gould dishing out three assists. Smith picked up five rebounds and three steals.

For Yarmouth, Olson led the way with 16 points and three steals, with McNeil leading the Clippers with eight rebounds and four steals. McGonagle chipped in seven points, with Katelyn D’Appolonia adding three assists.

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