BATH — Scoring was hard to come by in the first half of Friday night’s boys’ high school basketball game between Morse and Lewiston. 

The host Shipbuilders weren’t scoring inside, so to begin the second half, they kicked it out to sharp-shooter Dakota Freeman. The junior hit three treys in a row to begin the third, sparking an 18-4 run that put the Blue Devils away. Morse controlled the rest of the half and went on to win the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game, 57-45.

“We kept getting our looks,” Morse coach Brian Bennett said. “The message for ‘Kota was if you’re open, you shoot it. A big was on him, and he was slacking off. Make him be honest. He a hit a few, they were honest, then he started taking it to the basket. Great job.”

Freeman hit five 3-pointers in all and finished with 19 points. Along with teammate Keegan McDonough, who led all scorers with 24 points and grabbed 13 boards, the two headlined the game and combined for just two points fewer than Lewiston’s team total.

After Freeman’s fifth trey that opened the Shipbuilders’ scoring in the fourth quarter, McDonough took over and scored eight straight points that made the score 49-32. The run sealed the win for the home side.

“They kept their composure and we didn’t,” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said. “Defensively, we made some plays and did some decent things. Then they got a couple guys loose and hit some shots. That stretched it.”

Lewiston (2-12) dominated the glass in the first half, pulling in 19 total rebounds and holding Morse (4-10) to just eight first-quarter points. The Blue Devils took a two-point lead into halftime, but a cold shooting night of 29 percent from the floor kept the Shipbuilders in the thick of things. After that, Morse got hot and Lewiston got even colder.

“The message at halftime was, defensively, we did what we wanted to do,” Bennett said. “Force them in to jump shots. They’re big, tall athletes, they want to get after it. We did a great job of denying second-level penetration.”

Sophomore Ibn Khalid led all Lewiston scorers with 12 points, but despite 10 different Blue Devils scoring, the visitors struggled to take advantage of their size down low in the second half. Morse made adjustments and locked things down on the perimeter.

“We started fronting the middle,” Bennett said. “We were allowing that dump-in to the middle. Second half, we had our middle man in the zone front that. They weren’t going over the top and we kept it on the perimeter. It was a great team defensive game.”

Freeman’s third trey of the third quarter came on an inbounds pass where he started at the top of the key. Bennett saw an opening, yelled his name, and Freeman ran over to catch the pass and quickly rattle it in from beyond the arc. Lewiston scored just once more the rest of the quarter.

“After the first half, I didn’t feel like shooting much anymore,” Freeman said. “But that kid was slacking off and I had to. I just started hitting them.”

“We were playing a good defensive game, so to pick it up on the offensive side is great,” McDonough said. “To have someone else hit some big shots coming out in the third quarter is important. We’ve been iffy in the third quarter, so coming out strong is always good.”

Matt Belanger banked in two buzzer-beating lay-ups for Morse and finished with six points. The Shipbuilders shot 36 percent from the floor and made four free throws on top of McDonough’s 14. The win is the team’s first since Jan. 8 when they slipped by Camden Hills.

“We needed it,” Bennet said. “We were confident. We made the right passes. Everyone was playing unselfish and I told them when the open shot is there, you have to take it. We needed to be aggressive and everyone was.”

Lewiston has now dropped 10 games in a row after starting 2-2.

“We’ve got practice tomorrow morning at 7:30,” Farrar said. “We’ve got to be better.”


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