Brunswick players celebrate after winning their second straight Class A South girls’ basketball title. The Dragons allowed only 35.3 points per game during the regular season. In three playoff games, they have allowed an average of 22.3 points.  Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

BRUNSWICK — It was a 17-point fourth quarter in the Class A South final that sent the Brunswick High girls’ basketball team back to the state championship game. But the first three quarters, in which Brunswick and Mt. Ararat played to a 22-22 tie, may have spoken more to the Dragons’ identity.

The game was a physical battle, with hard-earned trips to the free-throw line and points hard to come by. For three quarters, defense reigned – and that’s just the way the Dragons like it.

“Defense is the most important part in this team,” said Brunswick junior forward Lexi Morin. “I feel like we practice that the most. … We’re always talking, always communicating about where we are and what we’re going to be doing.”

Many teams may value defense that way, but few get the same results as the Dragons. For the second straight season, Brunswick (19-2) led Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A and AA teams in defense, averaging 35.3 points allowed. The Dragons held 16 of 18 regular-season opponents under 40 points and allowed none to reach 50.

In the Class A tournament, they’ve been even tougher, giving up only 67 points across three games. They allowed 16 to Freeport and 21 to Greely before holding Mt. Ararat to 30 in the regional final.

Now, with only North champion Cony (14-7) standing between the Dragons and their first Gold Ball, they know defense will be the ticket to earn that elusive victory.


“They know it’s No. 1. They learn pretty quick, if you don’t defend and you don’t rebound, I don’t care how many points you score, you’re not getting in the game,” said Coach Sam Farrell, whose team plays Cony at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena.

“We really try to pride ourselves on five kids playing together, doing a job together, moving, talking. From that, offense comes.”

The shots don’t always fall for the Dragons, who ranked fifth in scoring among KVAC Class A and AA teams and who have been held under 50 points seven times. But even if the offense is faltering, Brunswick can still win, as the regional final showed.

“Whenever we’re watching our film, we’re mainly watching our defense,” said senior forward Dakota Shipley. “If our shots aren’t falling, we go right back to playing defense. That’s what we worry about more.”

Dakota Shipley swings the net after the Dragons’ victory over Mt. Ararat in the Class A South final. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Brunswick’s defensive advantage starts with its height. In 6-footer Shipley and 5-10 senior Maddy Werner, the Dragons have two top-tier inside players who can reject, challenge and alter shots, and force opponents to find other ways to the basket. Werner and Shipley ranked first and second in the KVAC during the regular season with 3.3 and 2.8 blocks per game, respectively.

“It’s a really good intimidation thing,” Shipley said.


Werner agreed.

“It definitely is intimidation,” she said. “We’re both so tall and long, it’s just kind of hard to score over that. … It forces teams to shoot more outside.”

With Abby St. Pierre (six rebounds per game) and Morin (10 rebounds in the regional final) also around the basket, Brunswick has plenty of height and strength inside. As Farrell said, however, that advantage isn’t enough by itself.

“It’s active. If you’re not that tall, make yourself taller. If you are tall, make sure you’re acting tall,” he said. “It’s moving, and Cony can shoot the lights out, so we have to make sure we’re contesting all the time, whether it’s my biggest or my smallest out there.”

To that point, the Dragons point to being on the same page at all times as the secret to their success.

“A lot of practice and communication is key,” Werner said. “We work really hard on that. … Talking where the cutters are and backdoor cuts, and telling people where to be.”


In practice, that communication can be instructional. It can also be encouraging.

“To play with this group, you have to play and you have to screw up,” Farrell said. “That’s one of the biggest things they hear when they’re new here from the older kids. Do it, screw it up, and then listen to the feedback. … If you get beat or make a mistake, you’ll hear about it, and then adjust.”

The Dragons saw what happened when that communication slipped in last year’s Class A final, when they lost to Lawrence, 58-43. Since then, the defense has been on point, and if it is again, the players know there’s a good chance they’ll be celebrating the program’s first state championship.

“The fire from last year is burning in us. We really want this Gold Ball to bring home,” Morin said. “It really is a big motivation for us. … This is our chance to bring one home and put our name on the walls of our school.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: