Mt. Ararat’s Jace Hollenbach, right, looks to pass while Morse’s Max Brochu defends during a game Friday in Topsham Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — After 10 days of a pause in the action due to an outbreak at the school, the Mt. Ararat boys basketball team found their footing to earn a nail-biting 43-41 win over Morse on Friday night. 

“It was a really good effort, our defense really went to another level in the second half which gave us the edge down the stretch,” said Mt. Ararat senior guard Jace Hollenbach, who ran the Eagles offense for most of the game. “The guys brought the energy on the bench to give some confidence to the guys on the floor.”

It was a wire-to-wire and hard-earned victory for the Eagles, who were pushed over the top on a Brandon Emerson layup with 58 seconds remaining, to make the score 43-41 for good.

Morse head coach Chris York drew up a play to go for the tie that ultimately was shut down by the Eagles, who forced a good look at a three by Tom Guild which clanked off the side of the rim as time expired.

Mt. Ararat’s Ryan Robertson (12) slings a pass against Morse on Friday in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“We wanted a down screen for a layup. We weren’t able to execute but we ended up getting a pretty good look at the end,” said York.

Morse had the opportunity to go for the tie or win after a Max Brochu steal with 18 seconds to go.

Coming off a loss to Lewiston at home, the Eagles came out Friday with more energy and hit shots that just weren’t falling the last time they took the floor.

“We had more patience and ran our offense. It just came together nicely,” added Hollenbach. 

The story of the night for the Shipbuilders was their missed shots in close, something York was quick to mention after the game.

“We missed a lot of easy ones tonight that we usually make,” added York. “It was definitely a tough one for me and the guys.”

Morse’s Tom Guild (5) drives on Mt. Ararat’s Carson Taylor during a game Friday in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

The largest lead for either side was six points, when the Shipbuilders briefly led 32-36 in the third quarter. 

Down the stretch it was a back-and-forth game, but Morse was without their star forward Gabe Aucoin, who went down on his head going for a loose ball with about three minutes to go and didn’t return. 

“Gabe went down on his head, I just wanted to be extra cautious and take no chances considering he’s had some head injuries before,” added York.

After a Sawyer Stead 3-pointer gave Morse a three-point lead with two minutes to go, Emerson responded on the other end, converting a layup plus the foul shot to knot the game right back up at 41 apiece. 

The Shipbuilders turned the ball over the following possession, resulting in the Emerson layup on the other end that ultimately resulted in the victory.
It was the first game for the Shipbuilders since last Friday, where they fell to Medomak Valley at home. 

They were paced by Aucoin, who dropped 15 points before exiting. Stead added eight and Brochu had six. 

Emerson led all scorers, racking up 19 points. Ty Henke and Carson Taylor both added seven, and Hollenbach had five. 

“It’s nice to get one back in the win column after the loss earlier this week,” added Hollenbach. “This one should give us some more confidence as we roll into next week.”

The Eagles next face Edward Little on Monday at home, while the Shipbuilders take on Lincoln Academy on Monday in Bath.

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