PORTLAND—It felt and sounded like the entire towns of Brunswick and Topsham were packed into the Portland Exposition Friday evening for the Class A South girls’ basketball final.

And what a show they got to witness.

Second-ranked Brunswick, the reigning regional champion, senior-laden and desperate for one more shot at the state title that eluded it a year ago, took on top-ranked Mt. Ararat, which wanted nothing more than to steal the Dragons’ crown.

The rivals did battle for 32 minutes, showed each other no mercy and for three quarters, there was absolutely no separation.

But with the regional title hanging in the balance, the reigning champs were just a little bit better.

The Eagles soared out of the gate, going up early by an 8-2 score and holding a 10-5 lead after one quarter, thanks in part to forcing six Brunswick turnovers.


The Dragons, who were led throughout the first half not by one of their star seniors, but by junior sparkplug Lexi Morin, came back in the second period and even took a momentary lead, but Mt. Ararat closed on a 5-0 surge to take a 17-13 lead to the break.

In the third quarter, Brunswick made its move and went in front on a 3-pointer from senior Dakota Shipley, but the Eagles answered, tied it up late and the contest went to the final stanza deadlocked, 22-22.

There, Morin got things started with a 3 and after junior Cali Pomerleau drew Mt. Ararat even with a 3 of her own, Shipley scored four points in a six-second span and the Dragons never looked back.

A 3-pointer from senior Emily Doring opened it up and junior Eva Harvie hit two clutch free throws to help slam the door and Brunswick went on to a 39-30 victory.

Morin led the way with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, as the Dragons improved to 19-2, ended Mt. Ararat’s fine season at 18-3 and advanced to take on Cony (14-7) in the Class A state final Saturday at 1:05 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

“It was a great game, fantastic,” said Morin, who was named the regional tournament’s outstanding player. “Mt. Ararat is a fantastic team. This was a fantastic game. The energy in the gym was amazing. We all felt happy out there. We had a good time.”


Act three

Brunswick and Mt. Ararat have been on a collision course all season.

The Dragons won the teams’ first meeting, 44-38, Jan. 4 in Topsham, but on Feb. 6, the Eagles returned the favor with a 41-36 victory at Brunswick, snapping the Dragons’ 12-game win streak, leapfrogging them in the standings in the process.

“That was a tough loss, but it just pushed us more and gave us a spark for this game,” Shipley said.

Mt. Ararat wound up first in Class A South, then knocked off No. 8 Westbrook (50-36) in the quarterfinals and rallied past No. 4 Fryeburg Academy (36-30) in the semifinals.

Brunswick, as the second seed, completely demolished its two regional foes, defeating No. 7 Freeport (59-16) in the quarterfinals and sixth-ranked Greely (58-21) in the semifinals.


Friday, in front of a capacity crowd, the Dragons faced a deficit for the first time all tournament, but come winning time, they simply wouldn’t be denied.

It took all of five seconds for the first display of intensity, as Morin got the ball off the opening tip and appeared primed to go in for a layup, but Eagles sophomore Julianna Allen blocked it cold.

Game on.

Allen then scored the first three points, making a free throw before taking a pass from junior Avery Beal and making a layup.

After Brunswick got on the board on a Morin free throw, Pomerleau hit a jumper.

Morin then hit another free throw, but Pomerleau countered with a 3 for an 8-2 lead.


After Shipley made a free throw, the next highlight reel moment came with just under a minute left, as after a Dragons’ miss, Mt. Ararat got the rebound under the basket, but Morin ripped the ball away and made a layup.

“I’m the ‘hype man’ on the team,” Morin said. “I have to get the energy going, the blood pumping. We bring the intensity when we turn it on.”

“Lexi is a phenomenal player, a team player,” said Shipley. “She’s always feeding people who are hot and she knows when to take it herself. She’s an awesome teammate, always talking.”

“(Lexi’s) done it for three years,” added Brunswick coach Sam Farrell. “As a freshman, we went to her in the semis in overtime against Mt. Ararat. She’s just a winner. It’s contagious for the rest of the team. When she makes plays, the rest of the team has to step up.”

Just before the horn, Beal set up junior Elena Willis for a jumper and a 10-5 lead, but the Dragons were still very much in the contest.

And led by Morin, back came Brunswick in the second period to lead for the first time.


But not for long.

Senior Maddy Werner started the second quarter with a layup, then Morin scored on a runner off the glass.

After Beal answered by driving for a layup, Harvie drained a long 3 to pull the Dragons even.

With 3:20 left in the half, Morin sank a free throw to put Brunswick in front, but the lead lasted all of 12 seconds before junior Kennedy Lampart set up Allen for a layup and Allen, who was fouled on the play, added the and-one free throw to complete the old-fashioned three point play.

With 25 seconds to go, Lampart made two free throws and after a 3-point attempt from junior Kyra Fortier at the horn went in-and-out, the Dragons went to the break down by four, 17-13.

Morin had seven points, six rebounds and three steals to keep Brunswick close, but six points from Allen and five from Pomerleau had the Eagles in front.


The Dragons quickly tied the score to start the second half, as Werner made two free throws, then Morin made a pair.

After sophomore Kayleigh Wagg countered with a runner for Mt. Ararat, Shipley took a pass from Harvie and drained a corner 3 with 3:25 on the clock for a 20-19 advantage.

Morin then added a contested runner before Allen got a point back at the line for the Eagles.

Then, as time wound down, after blocking a shot at the defensive end, senior Abbie Doble got a pass from Beal and made a layup to tie the score, 22-22.

It was anyone’s game when the fourth quarter commenced, but eight minutes later, it would be Brunswick celebrating after closing like the champion it hopes to become.

Twenty-five seconds in, Morin buried a 3 for the lead, but at the other end, Pomerleau took a pass from sophomore Jenna Jensen and tied the score with a 3-pointer of her own.


But with 6:12 on the clock, Morin handed the ball off to Shipley who drove, banked the ball in and was fouled, giving the Dragons the lead for good.

Shipley missed the and-one free throw, but immediately atoned by stealing the ball back and making a layup.

When Morin set up Doring for a corner 3 with 4:59 remaining, the lead was 32-25 and Brunswick was starting to feel it.

With 3:25 to go, some terrific interior passing opened it up even more, as Shipley set up Werner for a layup, putting Mt. Ararat in an even deeper hole.

Forty-three seconds later, Lampart knocked down a much-needed jumper for the Eagles, but Harvie, after a long delay, sank both free throws with 2:21 remaining.

The Eagles stayed alive on a corner 3 from Beal with 1:57 left and after Shipley missed two free throws, Mt. Ararat had a chance to draw even closer, but Beal missed a shot in close and Wagg’s 3, which could have made it a one possession game, was off target as well.


Werner added a free throw to make it a three possession game with 1:07 to go and after Pomerleau missed a 3, Wagg did the same.

Harvie put Brunswick closer to victory with two free throws with 35.6 seconds on the clock, then after Lampart missed a 3, Pomerleau did the same and Lampart missed another, Doring got the rebound, the Dragons ran out the clock and at 8:24 p.m., the final horn sounded, Werner flung the ball to the heavens in exhilaration and the celebration began.

“It was a great game,” Shipley said. “It was a rivalry game and they’re a great team. Our shots weren’t falling tonight, so we just had to pound it inside and try to get foul calls.”

“We couldn’t let up or give up,” said Morin. “We had to bring the intensity and keep pounding inside. We hit some big 3s. My heart was pumping. We had more experience in this position and our experience helped us. We relaxed and did what we had to do and now we’re going back to states.”

“It’s awesome,” Farrell added. “Anytime you beat Mt. Ararat it’s huge. They had great fan support and we had great fan support. We were confident. When we hit that first 3 in the fourth quarter, that’s when I felt the court tilt a little bit. We made good defensive plays. We didn’t give up one good look in the fourth quarter until the end when the game was out of hand.”

Morin had an exceptional game, scoring 14 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and also registering three steals and two assists.


“We’re all leaders on the team and we all had to step it up,” Morin said. “All I thought was that we needed to bring it.”

Shipley tallied only one point at halftime, but wound up with eight, to go with three rebounds and three steals.

Harvie and Werner (three rebounds, three steals, three blocked) both had seven points and Doring (four rebounds) finished with three.

Brunswick only committed 12 turnovers (just six after the first period) and made 13-of-24 free throws.

“I thanked the underclassmen for giving me another week with the seniors, who have been awesome,” Farrell said. “Whatever it takes to get the ‘W,’ that’s all they care about. No one was tired.”

Mt. Ararat got a team-high eight points from Pomerleau. Allen had seven, to go with five rebounds and three blocks. Beal added five points (as well as four assists and three rebounds), Lampart had four and Doble, Wagg and Willis finished with two apiece.


The Eagles made 5-of-9 free throws, but turned the ball over 17 times.

“I think it was pretty evenly matched the whole game,” said Mt. Ararat coach Julie Petrie. “It was a battle, a physical battle on both ends of the floor. They hit shots and we couldn’t finish as well as we’d like to in the fourth quarter.”

The Eagles return all five starters and will be heard from again next winter, likely as the favorite in the region.

“(The girls will) have a taste of what it’s like to be here,” Petrie said. “It’s more experience to build off of, use for next year and build that fire.”

Each team finished with 27 rebounds.

Thirty-two minutes to glory


Brunswick and Cony didn’t play during the regular season, but the Dragons did defeat the Rams in the preseason.

Brunswick believes if it does what it does best, the Gold Ball will come home with it for the first time.

“We just need to play our game,” Morin said. “We’re big, we can shoot, we’re diverse. If we play our game, I think we can come out on top with that Gold Ball. I’m so excited.”

“Everyone on the team is super-psyched,” said Shipley. “We have unfinished business and we’re back. I was hoping for a rematch (with Lawrence), but we just want to win this year at states. We fell short last year so we’re ready for this year. We outsize everybody, so we have to pound it inside, get fouls, finish around the rim and hit shots.”

“It’s really just preparation, our mindset, how focused we are,” Farrell added. “We know we can play defense, we just have to make shots. I know the whole town of Brunswick is so proud of these girls. I’m the luckiest coach in the state.”

Press Herald staff writer Drew Bonifant contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. For game updates and links to game stories, follow him on Threads: @foresports2023

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