Poland Regional High School coach Tim Dolley and his bench react after Jesica Seeley was called for traveling on a layup attempt with seven-tenths of a second left in the game against Freeport in Portland on Thursday. The knights lost 40-38. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

PORTLAND — Freeport advanced to a regional final for the first time in more than four decades by beating Poland in the Class B South girls’ basketball semifinals Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Falcons will face Lake Region in the B South final Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena. The Lakers defeated top-seeded Gray-New Gloucester on Thursday.

“It’s incredible,” Freeport guard Caroline Smith said. “No team’s gone this far for Freeport in a really long time, boys or girls, so it’s really cool to be on the team that kind of starts the change in Freeport.”

After the Falcons and Knights swapped scoring runs and the lead in the first half, Freeport gained some semblance of control by ramping up its full-court press. The Falcons built an eight-point lead — the largest gap between the teams of the game — with about two minutes left in the period.

“To be honest with you, the pressure bothered us a little bit,” Poland coach Tim Dolley said. “It was just one of those that we try to emulate that in practice, but it’s not quite as good as Freeport’s.”

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The Falcons forced three 10-second violations and kept Poland’s offense scrambling.

The Knights, though, kept themselves in the game by scoring the final five points of the third to go into the fourth down 31-28.

“(The defense) was very good,” Freeport coach Mike Hart said. “What our issue was with that is we didn’t convert some of those to points, and that’s why the game became tighter and tighter. But credit to them, they played hard.”

Freeport went up five points a couple of times in the fourth, but Nathalie Theriault’s three-point play cut the deficit to two points, 35-33, with 4:48 left in the game.

With 4:08 remaining, Theriault fouled out with a game-high 18 points as well as seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

Still, the Falcons’ lead was never more than three points the rest of the game.

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“I thought they responded well,” Dolley said. “Some of my younger girls didn’t skip a beat and showed why they deserved to be in that game at that time.”

Jessica Seeley scored for Poland with less than a minute left to bring Freeport’s lead down to 38-37.

Allie Goodman sank a pair of free throws to extend the lead to three points with 23 seconds to play, but Seeley made one of two at the foul line to make it 40-38 with 10 seconds left.

Poland’s Ally Gagne made a steal near midcourt and heaved the ball to Seeley. She caught the ball, turned and went for a layup but was called for traveling with seven-tenths of a second left.

“I just told them, I’m so proud of them that I can’t even express how proud I am. The words don’t come out right,” Hart said. “I think they’re an unbelievable group — resilient, never gave up on either side of the ball today, every happy with them.”

Goodman led Freeport with 13 points. Jessie Driscoll finished with 12 and Smith had six points, four assists and four steals.

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Seeley finished with 10 points for Poland, while Morgan Brousseau added six points and nine rebounds.

“They played hard. Couldn’t have asked for anything better from these girls tonight,” Dolley said. “They worked as hard as they could, we just fell a little short.”

Nathalie Theriault of Poland leaps over Caroline Smith of Freeport while scrambling for a loose ball during the second half in Portland on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Catiana Gould of Freeport knocks the ball loose from Sarah Moody of Poland during the second half in Portland on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Nathalie Theriault of Poland drives to the basket while being guarded by Joanna Bogue-Marlowe of Freeport during the second half in Portland on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)


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