Yarmouth’s Avery May goes up for a shot as Freeport’s Rachel Wall defends during the Falcons’ 52-42 victory Saturday. Bob Conn / Times Record

BOX SCORE

Freeport 52 Yarmouth 42

Y- 15 9 8 10- 42
F- 7 14 18 13- 52

Y- D’Applonia 4-0-10, McNeil 4-0-10, McGonagle 3-2-8, Feeley 3-0-6, May 2-0-4, Keaney 1-0-2, Whitlock 1-0-2

F- Wall 10-1-21, Smith 4-5-13, Gould 5-0-10, Baker-Schlendering 2-0-4, Brier 1-0-2, Routhier 1-0-2

3-pointers:
Y (4) D’Appolonia, McNeil 2
F (0)

Turnovers:
Y- 16
F- 13

FTs
Y: 2-4
F: 6-14

FREEPORT—Freeport’s senior class is historic and special and Saturday afternoon, the Falcons needed every senior on the roster to survive a stern test from rival Yarmouth in a late-season girls’ basketball showdown.

Host Freeport trailed almost the entire first half, as eight points from sophomore Katelyn D’Appolonia helped the Clippers open up a 15-7 advantage after one period and the visitors extended their lead to 10 points on a couple occasions in the second quarter before a bank shot from senior Lindsay Routhier helped spark a 10-0 Falcons’ run.

Junior Margaret McNeil made a 3 just before the horn to give Yarmouth a 24-21 lead at halftime and the Clippers went up by as many as seven early in the third period before senior Catriona Gould, playing one of the finest basketball games of her life, hit a jump shot to give Yarmouth its first lead since early in the game, 29-28.

Yarmouth went on top one final time, 32-31, on a McNeil 3, but Freeport closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of layups from junior Rachel Wall, to take a 39-32 advantage to the final stanza.

There, the Clippers got as close as three points, but the Falcons rode a strong defense and made just enough shots and free throws to prevail, 52-42.

Wall led all scorers with 21 points, senior Caroline Smith added 13 and Gould finished with 10 as Freeport made it nine straight victories, improved to 13-3 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 9-7.

“This senior class has won 52 (regular season) games in four years and the next closest class was 1978 with (39),” said Falcons’ coach Seth Farrington. “This team’s won a lot. We’ve become a successful program because multiple kids have contributed.”

Sign of things to come

Freeport and Yarmouth entertained high hopes entering the season and despite some challenges, have lived up to billing.

The Falcons started the year strong, handling host Poland (48-21), host Lincoln Academy (64-34), visiting Cape Elizabeth (40-23) and visiting Morse (58-19). A tough stretch of schedule then resulted in three straight losses: 58-45 to visiting Greely, the defending Class A champion, 38-33 at defending Class B champion Gray-New Gloucester and 72-44 at Greely. Freeport got back on track with a 41-39 home win over Brunswick, then defeated host Yarmouth (57-47), visiting Gray-New Gloucester (42-27), host Mt. Ararat (55-36), visiting Lake Region (45-26), visiting Fryeburg Academy (55-39), visiting Traip Academy (50-28) and host York (56-42).

Yarmouth, meanwhile, started with a 27-18 win at Cape Elizabeth, then fell at Brunswick (46-41), before defeating visiting Lake Region (34-17), visiting Mt. Ararat (58-32), host Waynflete (60-18) and visiting Fryeburg Academy (56-30). After a 65-56 setback at Greely, the Clippers knocked off visiting Gray-New Gloucester (36-21) and host Lincoln Academy (64-49). Tough times then began with a 57-47 home loss to Freeport, which was followed by a 45-34 setback at Gray-New Gloucester. After downing host Fryeburg Academy (57-30), Yarmouth lost at Wells (53-38) and at home to York (49-46), before getting back on track Tuesday at home over Cape Elizabeth (37-30).

In the teams’ first meeting Jan. 9, Smith had 22 points, Gould added 13 and Wall finished with 11 as Freeport won a close one at Yarmouth, which was paced by 19 points from McNeil.

Saturday, the Clippers looked to beat the Falcons for the first time since Jan. 9, 2016 (51-47 at Freeport), but instead, Freeport won its seventh straight game in the series.

Freeport’s seven seniors, Hannah Spaulding, left, Catriona Gould, Lindsay Routhier, Annika Thomas, Caroline Smith, Maggie Riendeau and Abby Brier, along with their families, are honored in Senior Day ceremonies prior to Saturday’s contest. Courtesy Freeport Athletics.

After a ceremony to honor the Falcons’ seven seniors and their families, Smith opened the scoring with a runner 56 seconds in, but the rest of the first quarter belonged to Yarmouth.

After senior Adiranna Whitlock tied the score with a bank shot, Clippers’ junior Calin McGonagle drove for a layup and a 4-2 lead.

Smith got a point back at the line, but D’Appolonia countered with her first 3-pointer.

Wall, who didn’t start but entered three minutes in, then took a pass from Gould and made a layup, but Whitlock set up senior Avery May for a layup and McGonagle made a free throw to put the Clippers ahead, 10-5.

After Wall scored on a putback for the hosts, D’Applonia got a 3 to rattle home and with 10 seconds to go, D’Appolonia took a pass from Whitlock and made a layup for a 15-7 advantage after one period.

Yarmouth would eventually go up by double figures in the second quarter before Freeport roared back.

Smith started the frame with a jump shot, but McGonagle sank a long jumper and McNeil fed May for a layup and a 19-9 Clippers’ lead.

After Smith drove for a layup, D’Appolonia did the same to put Yarmouth back up by 10, 21-11, with 3:59 left in the half.

Yarmouth junior Calin McGonagle drives on Freeport sophomore Mason Baker-Schlendering. Bob Conn / Times Record

The Falcons then awakened and scored 10 points in less than three minutes to draw even.

Routhier was the spark, banking home a long shot. Smith then set up Wall for a fastbreak layup and after a steal by sophomore Mason Baker-Schlendering, Gould’s layup cut the deficit to four and forced Clippers’ coach Dave Cousins to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Smith found Gould for a layup off an inbounds set, then Smith passed to Baker-Schlendering for a short jumper with 22 seconds remaining to tie the game.

“We were struggling and we needed some momentum and Lindsay hit that shot,” said Farrington. “That was big. That got us defending the way we usually defend and allowed us to get out in transition.”

Yarmouth would have the last laugh, however, as just before the horn, D’Appolonia passed to McNeil, who calmly buried a 3-pointer for a 24-21 Clippers’ advantage.

Yarmouth tried to reassert control when the second half began, as McNeil scored on a putback and McGonagle hit a jumper for a seven-point lead, but Gould and Wall led the hosts on a quick 8-0 run for the lead.

After Wall drove for a layup, Gould hit a runner in the lane. Smith then set up Wall for a layup and with 4:11 left in the third quarter, a Gould jump shot gave Freeport its first lead since the score was 2-0, 29-28.

“We had to step up instead of us relying on Caroline like we do sometimes when we’re in trouble,” Gould said. “I knew I had to take it to the hoop. It’s important for others to step up. We all rely on each other.”

McGonagle tied the game with a foul shot, but senior Abby Brier drained a jumper to put the Falcons on top.

McNeil then hit a 3 with 2:50 to go in the quarter, but 36 seconds later, Smith drove to the basket and hit a contested shot and Freeport was in the lead to stay.

Freeport senior Caroline Smith dribbles while being guarded by Yarmouth junior Margaret McNeil (left) and senior Adriana Whitlock. Bob Conn / Times Record

Smith’s basket was part of a period-ending 8-0 run, as Wall followed with a layup, Smith set up Gould for a layup off an inbounds set and Wall made a layup after a steal to stretch the lead to 39-32 heading for the fourth.

The Clippers made a push to start the final period, as two reserves, junior Kathryn Keaney and freshman Ava Feeley, made consecutive baskets to make it a three-point game, but after Wall made a free throw, Wall took a pass from Smith and made a layup, Wall made a jumper after a Gould steal and with 4:16 to play, the Great Wall of Freeport scored from Smith off another inbounds set for a 46-36 advantage.

McNeil got two points back with a third-effort putback, but with 2:36 to go, Baker-Schlendering’s putback extended the lead back to 10.

Yarmout junior Margaret McNeil passes to a teammate with Freeport senior Hannah Spaulding providing the defense. Bob Conn / Times Record.

Feeley made a layup, then drove for another to pull Yarmouth within six, 48-42, with 1:14 remaining, but that’s as close as the Clippers would get.

With 52.9 seconds remaining, Smith was fouled (much to Yarmouth’s chagrin, an intentional foul was called, giving Freeport possession after the free throws) and she made one of two attempts.

Nine seconds later, Smith was fouled again and again an intentional foul was called and this time, she sank both free throws to push the lead to nine.

With 30.6 seconds left, Smith made one more foul shot and that proved to be the finishing touch on the Falcons’ 52-42 victory.

“We stayed mentally engaged, worked hard and stayed positive,” Gould said. “(The seniors have) all played all four years together, some of us together since fourth grade, and getting to play together here today was really special, especially with the community behind us. I love playing with all of them, so today was a little bittersweet.”

“I was impressed with the way our seniors came out,” Farrington said. “They did what they had to do and put us in a good spot. Some of them aren’t used to being in that role, but they came out and played wonderfully. Senior Night is tough.”

Wall, despite coming off the bench and despite twice hitting the floor hard, led all scorers with 21 points, while adding five rebounds and five steals.

Smith had a quiet 13 points while dishing out eight assists and grabbing five rebounds.

Then there was Gould, whose impressive stat line still didn’t do her performance justice: 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“Catriona is the most improved kid in high school basketball from the beginning of last year,” said Farrington. “I don’t care what conference. She’s our difference-maker and she makes us much tougher. She guards the other team’s best player. She did really well today on McNeil.”

Baker-Schlendering added four points, while Brier and Routhier had two apiece.

Seniors Maggie Riendeau, Hannah Spaulding and Annika Thomas didn’t score, but played well in their time on the floor.

Freeport had a big edge on the glass, 40-25, committed 13 turnovers and overcame 6-of-14 foul shooting.

Yarmouth was paced by 10 points apiece from D’Appolonia (three assists) and McNeil (11 rebounds, four assists). McGonagle had eight points, Feeley six, May four and Keaney and Whitlock two apiece.

The Clippers committed 16 turnovers and took just four foul shots, making two.

“I’m not disappointed because I thought we played hard most of the game,” said Cousins. “We’ll get in a groove and we’ll score easily, then we get into situations where we press too much. We have to find other ways to get to the rim when our outside shot isn’t falling. The effort was good down the stretch, but a couple tough calls hurt us.

“I think what hurt us the most was we allowed them to penetrate so deep. That allowed them to get easy buckets and we got out of position and fouled. Freeport’s such a good team. They have size and speed, someone who can carry them down the stretch. They can do it all. I’m confident we can knock them off, but we’ll have to play really well, a full game.”

Title dreams

Yarmouth (now fifth in the Class B South Heal Points standings) goes to Poland Tuesday, then closes Thursday in a key home tilt against Wells.

“I told the girls to stay positive,” Cousins said. “We’re good enough to make a nice tournament run. We just have to stay on top of our game. We have to figure out how to win. Once you do that, you develop confidence. We’re not to that point yet, but we’re close.” 

If Freeport takes care of business next week, it will wind up first in the region, but it won’t come easily, as it has to go to Wells Tuesday, then finishes at Lake Region Thursday.

“We just have to stay mentally focused,” said Gould. “We have to keep working hard every day. It’s been an incredible four years and it’s not over yet. We’re excited.”

“We just need to be healthy and play our style,” Farrington said. “If we do, we’ll be a tough out. We have the one-game-at-a-time mindset. The kids do a good job with that, win or lose. We have to find a way to beat Wells Tuesday. They’ve been our kryptonite.”

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

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