AUBURN — There were two things the Edward Little girls’ basketball team didn’t want to see Saturday night.

The Red Eddies didn’t want to see Morse’s Nikoline Ostergaard have a good night offensively, and EL certainly didn’t want to see itself struggle to score.

Both of those scenarios were on display as EL hosted Morse in a rematch of two of the top Eastern A squads. Once again, the Shipbuilders prevailed in a 44-36 win.

Morse (14-1) beat EL 59-47 earlier in the year. EL (13-3) is currently the top-ranked team in Eastern A while the Shipbuilders came in seeded third.

“That’s a big win,” said Ostergaard, who led Morse with 28 points. “It’s always good to get a win when you’re on the road.  We’re all happy.”

Morse built a lead that was as large as 13 points in the third quarter and were up 31-18 early in the fourth. EL surged back and closed the gap to 37-33 with 1:48 left, but the Shipbuilders held off the rally for the win.

“What I really liked about our kids is that it was 37-33 and we had the ball,” said EL coach Craig Jipson. “They played really hard and made a great run.”

Ostergaard scored eight of her team’s first 10 points and finished the game with 13 in the fourth quarter. When EL had to foul down the stretch, it made the mistake of sending the 6-footer from Denmark to the line. She hit nine free throws in the fourth.

“She scored 28 by herself,” said Jipson, whose team finishes with Mt. Ararat and Lewiston and could not only drop from the top seed but also a spot in the KVAC title game. “She’s the major difference in the game. If we have a kid like her that can go off for 28 with that size, it a completely different game.”

EL also struggled badly offensively, rushing shots and not executing effectively. The Red Eddies missed their first 10 shots in the game and finished the opening quarter going 1-for-14. EL shot 3-for-15 in the second.

Ashlee Arnold led EL with 13, including nine in the fourth, while Miranda Martin added 10.

“We shot so well the last few games,” said Jipson. “So to shoot that poorly is disappointing, but in other games this year we have come out and not shot well.”

Ostergaard helped Morse build a 10-2 lead in the first quarter and the lead was up to double digits in the second. EL’s defense tightened up and Ostergaard got into foul trouble late when she picked up an offensive foul and a technical. EL chipped away at the lead and got three points from Martin and four from Arnold to close the gap to 12-9 at the half.

“We’ve had a bunch of games this year where we’ve come out and shot 2-for-19,” said Jipson of his team’s ability to weather a slow start.

Morse started to click again in the third. After shooting 1-for-11 in the second, the Shipbuilders hit three of their first four shots and were more efficient on the offensive end. 

“We didn’t play for eight days,” said Morse coach Mike Hart, whose club still has Erskine, Cony and Brunswick next week. “This winter has been brutal. You could see our offense was out of sync. When you practice it, it’s not the same as game speed.”

Tarra Burr put back a rebound, and after a Troi field free throw, Ostergaard hit a 3-pointer to make it 18-10. After Kory Norcross scored for EL, Morse ran off six straight and had a 13-point advantage late in the third.

“We just started hitting our shots,” said Ostergaard. “We’re not used to that big of a crowd. It was fun, and a good experience for us.”

Down 35-22 midway through the fourth, EL surged late in the fourth. Baskets by Norcross and Arnold cut it to 35-26. Then seven straight points by Arnold made it 37-33 with 1:48 remaining.

Morse milked the clock and force EL to foul. The Red Eddies made the mistake of fouling Ostergaard, who padded the lead with seven free throws in the final 1:15.

“We just had to keep it cool,” said Ostergaard. “We got more movement on offense.”

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