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Bishop Brady girls’ basketball captures second straight Cap Area title

  • Bishop Brady's Ami Rivera (32) shoots the ball during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Dorherty (10) drives to the basket during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley's Lauren Pettingill (21) goes up for a shot during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley's Abby Grandmaison (32) looks to a teammate during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady's Riley Marsh (24) shoots the ball during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley's Carly Huckins (13) has her shot blocked by Bishop Brady's Lauren Roy (15) during Friday's Capital Area Holiday Tournament girls' basketball championship game at NHTI in Concord, Dec. 29, 2017. Bishop Brady defeated Merrimack Valley, 49-39. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Saturday, December 30, 2017

They adapted on the fly to the absence of their star and last year’s Division II Player of the Year Sam Will, survived a 15-2 run in the third quarter that threatened their lead and put their faith in a host of young players seeing the court at the annual Capital Area Holiday Tournament for the first time.

In the end, the Bishop Brady Green Giants did just enough to claim the girls’ championship for the second straight year at the holiday basketball tournament hosted by NHTI, holding on in the second half to beat Merrimack Valley, 49-39, on Friday night.

“This year’s tournament is different for me because of our lack of game experience,” Brady coach Annie Alosa said. “We were literally learning on the court as we played and it’s fun, the girls are very coachable. I mean last year was great, but I had juniors and seniors and it’s different.”

With Will sidelined with a wrist injury, Sarah Doherty and Lauren Roy were the only upperclassmen in the lineup steering the Green Giants.

Luckily for Alosa, her team is deeper than just a few key seniors.

Doherty netted six points, five rebounds and seven assists in a game-high 32 minutes and Roy finished with seven points with a pair of 3-pointers, but it was freshman Ami Rivera who carried Brady to victory in its third meeting in the finals against MV in the last four tournaments.

The Tournament MVP scored eight points in the first quarter and had 11 of Brady’s first 20 points. At 5-foot-4, Rivera finished with an impressive double-double, notching a game-high 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Sophomore teammate Kaylee Smith added 11 and Marissa Payne contributed six points and nine rebounds.

“Rivera is very versatile and every coach hopes that when your seniors draw a lot of attention, the next kids step up and she did that,” Alosa said. “Ami’s a gamer and she just likes to play.”

After helping Brady to leads of 15-10 after the first quarter and 31-17 at halftime, Rivera, like the rest of the Green Giants, cooled off in the third quarter.

Brady dominated play in the first half thanks to six 3-pointers, five steals and a 12-4 edge in points off turnovers, but went nearly five minutes in the third quarter with just one make from the floor while MV found its groove.

“In the second half we told the girls two things: We have to rebound and we’re going to see if we can put a little press on them,” MV coach Bob McNutt said. “The press got us back in the game. We had a little more energy, we started to rebound and we made shots.”

Carly Huckins got the ball rolling for the Pride with a layup to start the third quarter. After an and-one layup for Aislinn McDonald cut the lead to 11, Huckins went right back to work, bullying her way inside for two and then dropping in a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 33-27.

Still struggling from the floor, Brady let the Pride inch closer when Abby Grandmaison (team-high 12 points, 17 rebounds) pulled down an offensive rebound and knocked it back in and Sara Osborne (six points) drained a 3 to cap a 15-2 run for MV to trim the deficit to one at 33-32.

“You coach all your players differently and so sometimes you have to be okay with that and let them work through it,” Alosa said of the run. “I could of called a timeout at two different moments. … But I like to watch their eyes. Their eyes kind of tell me if they’re lost or not. They weren’t really lost, we just weren’t hitting and that’s a big difference.”

Alosa’s call to let the Green Giants play through a rough stretch proved to be the right one.

Brady managed to salvage the quarter with a two buckets in the final minutes and never relinquished the lead despite a few tense moments late.

Osborne connected for a 3-pointer with four minutes left in the fourth quarter to make it 41-39, but the Green Giants closed out the game on an 8-0 run – with buckets from four different players – to ice the game.

“I think we’re just learning how to get tough at times when things aren’t going well,” McNutt said. “This game, we went down in the first half and we were just trying to get the girls to have some mental toughness and persevere. And they did. They came out with energy and they wanted to come and get back into this game.”

At the conclusion of the contest, the Brady trio of Doherty, Roy and Rivera were all named to the All-Tournament team, as were MV’s Huckins and Grandmaison and Pembroke’s Morgan Allen.

Both teams return to regular-season action on Tuesday. Brady (2-1) visits Hanover, while Merrimack Valley (2-2) travels to Laconia.

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)