Brook Kulis of Morse, left, looks to make a move around Morgan Ruff of Mt. Ararat during a girls basketball game Monday night at Mt. Ararat high school in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — It was a tale of two halves on Monday night when the Morse and Mt. Ararat girls basketball teams met at Mt Ararat High School. The scrappy Shipbuilders did everything they could to stay in it, but the Eagles parlayed a 9-0 run from the end of the third and into the fourth quarter into a 47-36 victory.

“We weren’t really having fun out there in the first half,” said Mt. Ararat senior guard Lauren Magno, who finished with 11 points, including two 3-pointers in the first quarter. “When we’re all having fun we usually tend to play well with each other.”

Mt. Ararat head coach Julie Petrie made the right adjustments in the second half, but acknowledged that her team was a little sluggish to start off.

“The biggest part was just our energy, Morse definitely outplayed us in the first half and we were lucky to be where we were on the scoreboard,” she said. “We focused on our energy and doing the little things that make us successful in the second.”

The turning point came toward the end of the third quarter, when a 29-23 Mt. Ararat lead quickly swelled to 36-23 when the buzzer sounded. The Eagles outscored the Shipbuilders 10-4 in the quarter. 

“Our shot selection wasn’t where we wanted it to be in the first half,” Petrie said. “I made sure to let the girls know that during the break.”

Jaden Lohr of Mt. Ararat, front, looks for positioning down low while Maddy Werner of Morse defends during a game Monday night at Mt. Ararat high school in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

It was a better performance for Morse this time around — Mt. Ararat took the first meeting 46-27 on Feb. 12.

“Some of it is still our mental mistakes and lack of in-game experience,” said Morse coach Jeannine Paradis. “We’ve been trying out new things and gambling this season with different things, which is something that comes with the pandemic season.”

It was the first game for Morse in 10 days. The team showed signs of fatigue in the second half.

“It could’ve played a factor, we haven’t had a game yet in March,” Paradis aded. “We worked really hard in practice last week working on in game scenarios gearing up for this final stretch of the season.”

The Shipbuilders showed their improvement in the first half, sticking with the strong Eagles squad as the sides traded baskets. 

The Shipbuilders struggled to break the zone press of the Eagles at first, but Paradis made adjustments and the Shipbuilders clawed their way back into it.

After a quick 6-0 Morse run that resulted in Petrie calling a timeout, the Eagles slowly found their game and led 26-19 at half.

Morgan Ruff of Mt. Ararat, right, looks to pass as Julie Goddard of Morse defends, during a game Monday at Mt. Ararat high school in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

The Shipbuilders started out strong as the second half began, but the Eagles 9-0 run toward the end of the third into the beginning of the fourth all but decided the game.

“We just talked about finishing this crazy season on a high note and wanted to give our seniors the satisfaction of a win,” added Petrie. “We will have the same goal on our minds for our last game on Thursday.”

Morgan Ruff led all scorers with 13 points to pace the Eagles. Elsa Daulerio had 12 points and two blocks, and Haleigh Hanson had five.

Haley Fitzpatrick scored 11 points to lead Morse, while Maddy Werner added nine. Freshman Dakota Shipley had six.

Morse closes the season with a pair of games against Brunswick on Tuesday and Thursday, while the Eagles will host Edward Little on Thursday in their last game of the campaign.

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