Defense and foul shooting often decides playoff games, and top-seeded Brunswick excelled in those areas Wednesday afternoon against No. 4 Falmouth in a Class A South girls’ basketball semifinal at the Portland Expo. 

Leading by just three points at halftime, the Dragons forced 14 second-half turnovers and hit 14 of their final 16 free throws, including the last nineto pull away for a 49-27 win. 

Maddy Werner led the way with a double-double as Brunswick (18-2) advanced to take on No. 2 Gray-New Gloucester in the regional final at 7 p.m. Friday at the Expo. 

Our defense definitely helped us in this game,” said Werner, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. “We guarded them well on the 3-point line and we had a lot of steals.” 

Brunswick’s defense smothered Falmouth early, not allowing a point and forcing five turnovers in the first quarter. Emily Doring scored four points to help open up a 10-0 advantage. 

But the second quarter was a vastly different story. 

Maddy Christman finally got the Navigators (12-8) on the board, and after a free throw by Brunswick’s Dakota Shipley, Falmouth closed the half on a 10-2 run, capped by 3-pointers from Anna Turgeon and Emily Abbottto make it 15-12 at the half. 

A Christman bank shot to start the third quarter pulled Falmouth within one, but Werner turned momentum with a steal after a layup. Alexis Morin made two foul shots, then Werner set up Shipley for a layup and followed with a putback for a 23-14 advantage midway through the third. 

“Emily Doring must have gotten her hands on a bunch of balls, Lexi had big rebounds, and we fed Maddy inside,” said Brunswick Coach Sam Farrell. “We thought (Maddy) would have to pass it, but she did it herself.” 

A 3 from Emily Abbott late in the third and another from Turgeon early in the fourth got the Navigators within five points, 30-25, but a 13-0 Brunswick run ended all doubt. 

The Dragons also got 12 points from Morin, who also had nine rebounds and six steals, and 10 from Kelsie Carlton.  

One of Brunswick’s two losses this season came to Gray-New Gloucester. The Dragons say they’ll be ready for the rematch. 

“Our goal is a Gold Ball, but for us, it’s one day at a time.” said Farrell. “We had to get through Falmouth. We haven’t even thought about (Gray-New Gloucester) yet. They’re good.” 

Falmouth got 11 points from Abbott and eight from Turgeon (as well as seven rebounds and three blocks) in her final game. The Navigators were doomed by 22 turnovers. 

“We didn’t take good care of the basketball, but Brunswick’s a great defensive team and they hustle on defense and we didn’t handle it well,” said Falmouth Coach Dawn Armandi“I would have liked to have seen a closer game, but they did what they needed to do and they deserved it.” 

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