BOX SCORE

Freeport 40 Cape Elizabeth 23

CE- 10 2 7 4- 23
F- 8 8 16 8- 40

CE- Berman 3-2-8, Gerety 2-3-7, Gray 2-0-4, Chapin 1-0-2, Goulding 1-0-2

F- Smith 7-1-15, Wall 4-2-10, Baker-Schlendering 4-0-8, Gould 2-1-5, Brier 1-0-2

3-pointers:
CE (0)
F (0)

Turnovers:
CE- 12
F- 16

FTs
CE: 5-12
F: 4-8

FREEPORT—Cape Elizabeth’s girls’ basketball team held Freeport senior standout Caroline Smith to 15 points in the squads’ playoff rematch Thursday, but the Falcons demonstrated that they can still take care of business by other means.

Smith, a captain, gave Freeport a jolt with her defense and passing and the Falcons’ inside game, featuring junior Rachel Wall and sophomore Mason Baker-Schlendering, proved to be too much for the Capers to handle in an early-season battle of Class B South contenders.

Cape Elizabeth got off to a promising start, leading, 10-8, after one quarter, thanks in part to a strong defensive effort, spearheaded by senior Karli Chapin.

But the Capers went cold in the second period, scoring a mere two points, and Freeport took a 16-12 advantage to the half.

After Smith scored twice after steals, then set up a teammate with a behind the back pass to get the crowd energized, the Falcons opened up a 32-19 lead after three periods.

In the fourth, Freeport continued to slam the door, never allowing Cape Elizabeth to draw closer than a dozen points, and it went on to a 40-23 victory

Smith led all scorers with 15 points, Wall added double-double, Baker-Schlendering nearly did the same and the Falcons improved to 3-0 on the young season, dropping the Capers to 1-2 in the process.

“I thought our attention to detail was better defensively in the second half,” said Freeport coach Seth Farrington. “We have enough horses offensively. Our effort was great in the first half, but in the second half we combined offense and defense.”

An early test

Cape Elizabeth saved its best for last a year ago and nearly got to the regional final. With some new faces this season, the Capers figure to be a squad that will only get better as the winter progresses.

Cape Elizabeth started with a 27-18 home loss to Yarmouth Friday, then Tuesday, won at home over Waynflete, 37-20.

Freeport, which lost to eventual champion Gray-New Gloucester in the Class B South Final last winter, returns everyone from that team and as a result, the Falcons are viewed as the team to beat in Class B South.

The Falcons didn’t disappoint in their first two outings, handling host Poland (48-21) and Lincoln Academy (64-34).

Last year, the teams engaged in a pair of down-to-the-wire thrillers, with Freeport holding on for a 33-30 victory at Cape Elizabeth in the regular season, then rallying to prevail, 49-42, in overtime, in the semifinal round of the Class B South tournament.

Thursday, the Capers sought their first win over the Falcons since Jan. 18, 2016 (38-28 in Freeport), but instead, Freeport came to life and made it five straight victories in the series.

Cape Elizabeth brought the intensity early and went on top 21 seconds in, as Chapin set up senior Isabel Berman for a layup.

The Falcons’ first points came 37 seconds later, as Baker-Schlendering fed Smith for a layup.

After the Capers got a putback from junior Alison Gerety, Freeport tied it again, as Smith set up Wall for a layup.

After Chapin put Cape Elizabeth back on top with a leaner after a steal, the Falcons got a long jumper from Smith, then a reverse layup from Smith for their first lead, 8-6.

It didn’t last, as late in the opening stanza, Gerety scored on another putback and sophomore Emily Supple set up Berman for a layup and a 10-8 advantage.

Freeport then turned up its defensive intensity and by halftime, was on top to stay.

With 5:29 remaining in the first half, two Berman free throws gave the Capers their biggest lead, but they wouldn’t score again until the second half.

With 4:41 on the clock, a layup from senior captain Catriona Gould snapped the Falcons’ 5-minute, 37-second scoring drought and 38 seconds later, Wall tied it with a leaner in the lane.

With 3:34 to go in the half, a long jumper from Smith put Freeport ahead and a putback from Baker-Schlendering made it 16-12 Falcons.

In the first 16 minutes, Smith led all scorers with eight points, while Berman paced Cape Elizabeth with six.

Freeport would then gradually pull away in the second half.

Smith set the tone with a steal and a basket.

After junior Emily Goulding countered for the Capers with a short jumper, ending a 6:15 drought and a 10-0 run, Smith got a jumper to rattle home, then Smith stole the ball, raced up the court and fed Gould with a behind the back pass. Gould missed the shot, but got her own rebound and was fouled and after making one of two free throws, the lead was 21-14.

“We’re notorious for coming out flat in the third quarter, so that was a focus,” Smith said. “We talked a lot about energy and effort. It obviously wasn’t our best scoring game, so we had to find other ways to get into the game.”

“(Caroline) doesn’t need the field goal attempts she’s had in the past,” Farrington said. “She has such great court vision. She’s unselfish. If you’re open, she’ll find you.”

Smith then set up Baker-Schlendering for a layup.

After Berman stemmed the tide with a layup (off a pass from Goulding), Smith made a free throw, Gould got a jumper to rattle home, junior Hannah Groves fed Baker-Schlendering on the block for a bank shot and after Gerety made a free throw, senior Annika Thomas found Wall for a layup and a 30-17 advantage.

Freshman Grace Gray countered with a jump shot for Cape Elizabeth, but Wall’s late putback made it 32-19 Falcons after three quarters.

“I think the emphasis was on the first four minutes of the third quarter because we couldn’t give them breathing room,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Casterella. “If we could have maintained that four- or six-point game, it would have been a different story. That was turning point. They took off and we couldn’t recover. They’re a very good team. Very skilled and they can score points.”

Early in the fourth period, Groves set up Baker-Schlendering for another bank shot, but Gray hit a runner and Berman made one foul shot to cut the deficit to 34-22 with 6:10 remaining.

The Capers would get no closer, as Smith set up senior captain Abby Brier for a backdoor layup, Smith drove for a layup for her final points and Wall added two free throws before one final foul shot from Gerety closed out Freeport’s 40-23 victory.

“It was fun playing in front of the home crowd for the first time,” said Baker-Schlendering. “We know what to expect and we know how each other plays.”

Smith led the way with 15 points and added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Wall had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Baker-Schlendering finished with eight points, 10 boards and six blocked shots.

“Getting blocked shots gets the crowd fired up,” Baker-Schlendering said. “A lot of our plays are based off our size advantage.”

“Mason and Rachel are good athletes and Hannah Groves is off the bench too,” Farrington said. “We have three legitimate post players. That’s a good luxury to have.”

Gould had five points and Brier finished with two.

Freeport made 4-of-8 free throws, had a 40-26 rebounding advantage and overcame 16 turnovers.

Cape Elizabeth’s top scorer was Berman, who had eight points. Gerety added seven, Gray four and Chapin (who had seven rebounds and three steals) and Goulding contributed two apiece.

The Capers missed seven of 12 free throws and turned the ball over a dozen times.

“I actually thought the girls executed the game plan,” said Casterella. “We just couldn’t score. We held them to 40 points. It’s not exactly what I wanted, but we had to do our part on offense. They have girls who are 5-10, 5-11, 6-feet. We tried to help where we could, but they got good position and a lot of putbacks.”

Up next

Cape Elizabeth looks to even its record Tuesday of next week at Falmouth.

“I think we’re going to compete,” Casterella said. “The kids give it everything they have. It’s a long road ahead. There’s no let-up. We’re not an offensive powerhouse. Until the offense starts to come, it’s defense, defense, defense.

“I feel good. The kids are working hard. We stayed with a very good team for awhile tonight.”

Freeport, meanwhile, goes for a 4-0 start Wednesday of next week when Morse pays a visit. A showdown at home versus two-time defending Class A champion Greely follows a week from Friday.

“We’ve never really been in this position before, so it’s no different than last year,” Smith said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and staying mentally prepared. It’s still really early. We have some battles coming up. We have to be physically and mentally prepared going forward.”

“We’re progressing,” Farrington said. “We need to work on our offensive spacing. That could be better. There are still some confidence things. We have to make sure we’re ready to play.

“We don’t want to peak too early. One thing we do really well is focus one game at a time. Now, it’s Morse. We’ll do what it takes to win games. This is one of the most tight-knit groups I’ve ever coached. They’re a pleasure.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]ecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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