They needed four extra minutes but the Freeport girls’ basketball team is going back to the Class B South regional final.

Behind Caroline Smith’s free-throw shooting, No. 2 Freeport rallied to beat seventh-seed Cape Elizabeth 49-42 in overtime in Thursday’s regional semifinal at Cross Insurance Arena.

Smith’s 23 points included 15 free throws, 5 of 6 in overtime.

Freeport (16-4) advances to the regional final at 1 p.m. Saturday against No. 1 Gray-New Gloucester, which beat Freeport twice this season, 51-22 and 79-41.

Last season, the Falcons ended a 40-year absence from the regional final before losing to Lake Region in the South final. A return trip this year seemed unlikely. New coach Seth Farrington was tasked with replacing six key seniors.

“Six of the top seven in terms of minutes played, I was told,” Farrington said.

“I don’t think anyone really thought we would be here,” Smith said. “So just putting in the work together and proving to everyone we could get back is such a fun experience.”

Late in the second quarter a return looked unlikely. Cape Elizabeth (9-11) was forcing turnovers, holding Smith in check and building a 22-15 lead behind seven points from Isabel Berman.

But midway through the third quarter Freeport started taking care of the basketball and getting to the free-throw line.

Cape was called for 14 fouls after halftime, compared to four against Freeport and the Falcons converted 14 of 21 free throws (12 of 14 by Smith).

“It’s a hard environment to shoot in so getting to the rim and picking up fouls and shooting free throws is just a high percentage shot for us,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Cape Elizabeth shot 7 of 30 in the second half (just 1 of 15 in the third) despite having many good looks from inside 10 feet.

“There seemed to be a lid on the hoop,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Christine Casterella. “Right around the rim and out.”

A 7-0 Freeport run tied the game at 24 with 3:12 left in the third.

In the fourth quarter Cape senior Brooke Harvey scored 10 of her team-high 15 points. Both of her 3-pointers pushed the lead to four points, and her two layups broke ties.

Smith answered with nine points, twice tying the game with a pair of free throws, the latter two coming with 49 seconds left in regulation.

Cape held for a last shot. After a Harvey miss went out of bounds to Cape with 2.7 seconds to play, Harvey got off a deep 3-point attempt that caromed off the back rim.

In overtime, Freeport freshman Mason Baker-Schlendering (8 points) picked up a loose ball on the Falcons’ first possession and banked in a shot.

Three Smith free throws and a basket by Rachel Wall (13 points) pushed the Freeport lead to 47-40 with less than 30 seconds to play.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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