Freeport’s Rachel Wall (40) puts her arms up in defense as York’s Emily Rainforth picks up her dribble. Freeport took down the Wildcats, 56-44 in the girls WMC clash on Tuesday in Freeport. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

FREEPORT — The Freeport Falcons opened the second quarter with a 17-0 run and kept away the York Wildcats for a 56-44 victory in girls high school basketball Tuesday evening.

The two Western Maine Conference foes are battling for playoff positions in their respective classes. York fell to 6-9 and currently sits in seventh in the Class A South Heal Points, while Freeport improved to 13-2 and has a solid grasp on the third spot in Class B South with three games remaining.

“It’s a big game for us,” Freeport coach Seth Farrington said. “Last week was mid-terms and it was good to see the kids get locked back in.”

Caroline Smith poured in a game high 22 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out six assists for the Falcons. Sophomore Rachel Wall added 16 points and seven rebounds.

Nina Howe led York with 15 points, with Emily Rainforth chipping in 11.

The first quarter didn’t start so “locked in” for the Falcons. Freeport hit the bottom of the net first, but York quickly answered with a Rainforth trey, followed by a Kristen Leroux hoop for an early 5-2 Wildcat lead. The teams traded hoops throughout the next four minutes, with the undersized York squad grabbing offensive rebounds early on.

Following a put-back by Smith, a Leroux free throw and Jackie Tabora basket gave the Wildcats the one-point advantage, 11-10, after eight minutes of play.

Falcon run

Freeport came out charging in the second frame on both ends of the floor. Baskets by Smith and a three-point play by Catriona Gould opened the quarter, but it was the defensive rebounding and transition game that sparked the surge. Smith and Wall each hauled down a pair of defensive boards following Wildcat misses, starting fast-break runs that resulted in nine points in the opening minutes for the two, prompting a timeout by York coach Steve Freeman with 5:41 left in the half, hoping to stop the 9-0 run.

“They owned it in the second quarter,” Freeman said. “They changed their offensive set a little bit, we took a timeout and basically told them how to readjust and the adjustment wasn’t really solid.”

It wasn’t, as Freeport continued its run, dumping in eight more points to finish off a 17-0 run that opened the frame, giving the Falcons a 27-11 lead.

During the run, Gould showed her quickness, garnering a pair of steals and scoring four points off the turnovers.

Freeport’s Catriona Gould, right, defends against York’s Nina Howe during Tuesday’s WMC girls high school basketball game in Freeport. The Falcons prevailed, 56-44. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“They didn’t realize I was coming in from the back end and I stole it and went in for the layup,” Gould said. “We stayed calm and kept our minds focused.”

“How athletic is she? She’s straight-line fast,” Farrington said of his junior guard. “What people don’t realize is that she defends arguably the best perimeter player on the floor most nights.”

Howe began getting her points, as a pair of baskets from behind the arc, coupled with a hoop and free throws gave the junior 10 second-quarter points.

“Nina sees the floor well and is so athletic,” Farrington said. “(Gould) did a good job on her tonight. She kept her scoreless until late in the half. You’re not going to completely stop a player like that. Our goal was just to make her a volume shooter to get her points.”

The Falcons outscored York 23-15 in the frame and carried a 33-26 lead into the halftime break.

York cut the lead to 37-31 midway through the third quarter as the Wildcats clawed back, but a Hannah Spaulding three gave Freeport a 44-31 lead at the 4:44 mark that seemingly took the wind our of the sails of the visitors.

“We did have a surge that cut it down to six, I was real proud of the kids,” Freeman said. “But we knew this was a tough team, big and physical. We don’t have the size to match them down inside.”

Freeport continued running the offense through Smith as she was 4-for-4 from the line, grabbing three boards and handing out four assists in the frame. And as in other nights, the junior downplayed everything she does on the floor.

“Everything is a team effort. We do everything together,” Smith said. “We know we have each other’s back, it doesn’t matter who scores or makes the assists. It’s all about working together and working as a team.”

The Falcons put away the Wildcats in the final frame for their sixth victory in a row. After being outrebounded in the first quarter, Freeport finished the game with a 35-22 advantage.

Freeport hosts Lake Region on Thursday before closing out the regular season the following week with a game at Wells (Feb. 5) and at home against Gray-New Gloucester on Feb. 7.

Freeport’s Caroline Smith (20) passes to Mason Baker-Schlendering (32) between two York defenders during the second half of Tuesday’s WMC girls high school basketball game in Freeport. Freeport beat the Wildcats, 56-44. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

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