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High schools: Merrimack Valley done in by second quarter in loss to Lebanon

  • Merrimack Valley’s Carly Huckins (right) drives past Lebanon’s Sally Rainey (left) and Rebecca Wright on Tuesday. Huckins finished with 14 points, but Lebanon won, 64-52, behind 30 points from Wright to improve to 7-1. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Merrimack Valley’s Aislinn McDonald (right) drives to the basket against a pair of Lebanon defenders on Tuesday. McDonald finished with seven points, but Lebanon won, 64-52, to improve to 7-1. MV fell to 3-4 with the loss. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Merrimack Valley’s Lauren Pettingill (center) battles for a loose ball with Lebanon’s Rebecca Wright (right). Wright finished with 30 points to lead Lebanon (7-1) to a 64-52 win over the Pride (3-4). RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Lebanon defenders swarm Merrimack Valley’s Abby Grandmaison on Tuesday night. Lebanon won, 64-52, to improve to 7-1. Grandmaison finished with 10 points for the Pride (3-4). RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography



Monitor staff
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When Bob McNutt looked up and down the Merrimack Valley girls’ basketball team’s roster during the preseason and saw the group he had, the first-year coach for the Pride figured he wouldn’t have to worry too much about breaking the full-court press.

When it’s as good as Lebanon’s press was on Tuesday, it would make any coach take a second look.

“It was something for me that I felt like we had the players to beat it,” McNutt said following a 64-52 defeat to the Raiders. “We worked on it, but it’s not something we have completely dedicated our time to, only because I thought teams would struggle to press us. But Lebanon was tough. There were two girls on the ball and it’s something we’re going to have to go back and look at.”

That full-court press and trap game from the Raiders forced the Pride to come undone in the second quarter, leading to nine turnovers, a game-changing run and eventually a home loss for Merrimack Valley.

Up against a program McNutt called “the best he’s seen so far in Division II,” MV (3-4) got just the start it was looking for in the first quarter. The Pride shot 6-for-11 in the frame, received buckets from four different players and was off and running with a 15-12 lead.

But foul trouble to key players – Aislinn McDonald and Kaitlyn Belanger – paired with Lebanon’s decision to trap and defend the full length of the court turned things around in a hurry in the second frame.

MV’s narrow lead disappeared when Lebanon senior guard Leah Mayes buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 20-20, and the Pride totally lost its rhythm after sophomore Rebecca White sunk a pair of free throws moments later to give the Raiders their first lead of the night.

“As soon as they took the lead, things changed for us,” McNutt said. “We became a different team. We were a team that was out there saying, ‘What’s going on here. What’s happening,’ and we never really fully recovered from that in that quarter.”

White, a D-II First Team All-State selection as a freshman last season, was nearly unstoppable in the post for the streaking Raiders (7-1), who have rattled off six straight wins since losing to Bishop Brady on Dec. 14.

White poured in a game-high 30 points and finished 11-for-14 from the free-throw line. She was responsible for 10 of Lebanon’s points during its 23-7 run in the second quarter, and when MV came with the double team, White made the smart played and kicked it out to the perimeter where Mayes connected on three 3-pointers in the quarter to carry the Raiders into the half up, 35-22.

“White was an All-State player last year, she scores 20 a night for us and she’s getting better,” Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe said. “We knew the doubles were coming and she’s learning how to pass out of those.”

“She’s tough to defend,” McNutt said. “We knew she was going to get her points, but personally I felt like it hurt us that we couldn’t stay in our zone and got into foul trouble. … I felt like losing those two players (Belanger and McDonald) really hurt us there.”

Despite the 13-point deficit at the half and the inability for MV to pull off the comeback win, there were still plenty of positives for the Pride.

Sara Osborne put forth one of her best games of the year with a team-high 15 points. Carly Huckins was especially aggressive coming out of the break on her way to 14 points. MV trimmed the deficit down to as close as six in the fourth quarter and McNutt saw something in his team that provided reason for optimism going forward.

“I found another group in the second half that I didn’t think we had as a team on a positive side, meaning we went after it, our energy, our legs, our intensity, all those things just completely changed and those girls never quit,” McNutt said. “It’s one of those situations where we could of let the second half blow up and these girls fought back. We got it to seven, maybe six points and had a couple open looks but couldn’t knock it down.”

Merrimack Valley will attempt to bounce back on Thursday when it visits Coe-Brown (2-4).

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

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Kennett 44, Bishop Brady 38

Key players: Brady – Lauren Roy (14 points), Marissa Payne (12 points)

Highlights/key moments: Roy and Payne each hit double figures but the Giants fell just short to Kennett, led by Isabel Wrobleski with 20 points.

Coach’s quote: “We have to continue to grow and improve. If we take one thing from every game, we will get better.” – Brady’s Annie Alosa

Records: Kennett 4-1; Brady 3-3

Bow 51, ConVal 29

Key players: Bow – Lea Crompton (13 points)

Highlights/key moments: Bow burst out of the gate with 19 points in the first quarter to begin building its commanding lead.

Coach’s quote: “We did a good job on the glass at both ends and that enabled us to run and get open looks that we knocked down.” – Bow’s Bill Vermette

Records: Bow 2-3; ConVal 1-5

Pembroke 51, Coe-Brown 26

Key players:Pembroke – Brooklyn Zanis (22 points, 5 rebounds), Ciera Clark (8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals), Morgan Allen (7 points), Maddie Gaskell (8 points), Olivia Langevin (10 rebounds); Coe-Brown – Val White (13 points), Lauren Curtin (3 points, 9 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: Pembroke and Coe-Brown traded jabs in the first half, and the Spatans led, 20-18, at halftime. Pembroke broke it open with a 15-6 run in the third and didn’t look back.

Coach’s quote: “Tonight’s win was a total team effort. We’ve been working hard to finish on offensive opportunities and that hard work paid off for us tonight in the second half. We need to carry this energy into Friday (at Portsmouth).” – Pembroke’s Michaela Champlin

“You have to play two halves of basketball. We did a nice job in the first half. Then things just broke down for us in the second. Again effort is there just need to be confident in our abilities.” – Coe-Brown’s Joe Vachon

Records: Pembroke 3-3; Coe-Brown 2-4

Hollis-Brookline 60, Kearsarge 32

Key players: Kearsarge – Madi Courser (9 points), Meg Roy (8 points)

Highlights/key moments: The Cougars trailed by 12 in the third quarter and Hollis-Brookline sprinted through the fourth for a convincing win.

Coach’s quote: “We hung in there for three quarters against a good team. It seems that way where we play three decent quarters and have one where we forget to play, but I thought tonight a 28-point loss is not indicative of how we played.” – Kearsarge’s Keith Roberts

Records: Hollis-Brooklin 6-1; Kearsarge 3-4

Laconia 52, Souhegan 40

Key players: Laconia – Sydney Stevens (7 points, 8 rebounds), Sophie George (14 points, 2 assists), Hannah Dow (12 points, 6 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: With three minutes to go in the game and a three-point lead, Stevens went to work in the paint, scoring six of her seven points.

Coach’s quote: “All eight players (on the roster) contributed tonight both on the score sheet and in overall effort, which we need to compete every night.” – Laconia’s Jeff Greeley

Records: Laconia 3-3; Souhegan 4-3

Prospect Mountain 59, Franklin 33

Key players: Franklin – Hannah Hicks (11 points), Lauren Marsh (11 points)

Highlights/key moments: Fayth Kaspszak hit a buzzer-beating shot to give Franklin a one-point lead at the end of the first half.

Coach’s quote: “We played a great first half, but our inexperience at guard showed as we turned (the ball) over too much in the second half.” – Franklin’s JJ Winters

Records: Prospect Mountain 7-1; Franklin 2-6

Monadnock 54, Hillsboro-Deering 17

Key players: H-D – Morgan Racine (15 points), Kenley Moriarty (7 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: Racine shot the ball well, scoring 15 of the Hillcats’ 17 points, but couldn’t find support in scoring from the rest of the roster.

Coach’s quote: “Racine shot well for us tonight and we are trying to get more people involved throughout the game. We had a lot of turnovers tonight, which resulted in easy transition points for them. We will continue to push through as the season continues.” – H-D’s Tiffany Lewis

Records: Monadnock 8-0; H-D 0-8

Hopkinton 62, Winnisquam 25

Key players: Hopkinton – Taylor Signor (12 points, 5 steals), Katie Meserve (12 points, 4 rebounds), Amelia Thomas (10 points, 5 steals)

Highlights/key moments: Hopkinton ran out to a 19-2 lead in the first quarter and controlled play the rest of the way.

Coach’s quote: “Another solid effort from the whole squad tonight. We had contributions from everyone.” – Hopkinton’s Patrick Roye

Records: Hopkinton 6-2; Winnisquam 1-6

Newfound 49, Berlin 39

Key players: Newfound – Savanna Bony (18 points), Jasmine Peterson (15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists, 2 blocks), Ashlee Dukette (8 points, 15 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears got off to a hot start with an 11-2 lead in the first quarter.

Coach’s quote: “It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take the win. At times we were intense but need to put a complete 32 minutes together.” – Newfound’s Karri Peterson

Records: Newfound 6-1; Berlin

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Londonderry 53, Concord 52 OT

Key players: Concord – Tyler Bruns (10 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists), John Kalisz (14 points, 5 rebounds), Scott Lampron (12 points, 4 rebounds), Rylan Canabano (11 points, 6 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: Four Concord players reached double figures in scoring, but the Tide couldn’t seal this one in overtime against undefeated Londonderry. Concord led 21-15 entering the third quarter, but the Lancers mounted a 17-11 run to even the score heading into the fourth. Bruns is the first Tide player to hit double digits in rebounding in a game this season.

Coach’s quote: “We led for about the whole game until we gave it away in the third quarter. Our players worked their tails off. We are getting better every game, the effort is getting better. We played a quality team tough tonight.” – Concord’s Dave Chase

Records: Londonderry 5-0; Concord 2-2

Merrimack Valley 54, Lebanon 44

Key players: MV – Ryan Defina (23 points, 4 3-pointers), Kyle Dube (13 points), Jake Hebert (7 points)

Highlights/key moments: Merrimack Valley put together a strong first half and led 30-17 at the break. The Raiders attempted a comeback by outscoring the Pride, 15-8, in the final frame, but it was too little, too late to stop a red-hot MV squad.

Coach’s quote: We had a nice little cushion early. Lebanon made a nice run at us, but we got a few defensive stops in a row and that was the ballgame.” – MV’s Tim Mucher

Records: MV 5-0; Lebanon 4-2

Kennett 61, Bishop Brady 51

Key players: Brady – Bryce Johnson (24 points)

Highlights/key moments: Kennett took the lead early and built on it from there.

Coach’s quote: “We are missing offense. Shooting 32 percent for the year is deflating.” – Brady’s Tim Lee

Records: Kennett 1-5; Brady 0-3

Hollis-Brookline 55, Kearsarge 34

Key players: Kearsarge – Noah Tremblay (17 points, 3 steals), Joe Storozuk (6 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds), Kyle Hernon (6 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks)

Highlights/key moments: Freshman Adam Reeve won’t forget this game. The young Cougar scored his first varsity points on a 3-pointer that brought the home crowd to its feet. In the end, Kearsarge lost its fourth straight and hopes to right the ship Friday at Goffstown.

Coach’s quote: “Hollis-Brookline’s defense was exceptional tonight. They’re easily one of the best teams we’ve played.” – Kearsarge’s Nate Camp

Records: Hollis-Brookline 2-1; Kearsarge 3-4

Monadnock 85, Hillsboro-Deering 38

Key players: H-D – Zack Rowell (16 points)

Highlights/key moments: The Hillcats trailed by 25 points at halftime.

Records: Monadnock 6-2; H-D 0-5

Hopkinton 52, Winnisquam 30

Key players:Hopkinton – Kevin Newton-Delgado (14 points), Caleb Yianakopolos (11 points), Dustin Rose (9 points), Kevin McGrath (8 points); Winnisquam – Kyle Mann (13 points), Angelo Glover (6 points, defense)

Highlights/key moments: Hopkinton ran away on a 23-5 tear in the third quarter.

Coach’s quote: “I am extemely proud of their defensive effort tonight, which kept us competitive even when our shots were not falling early.” – Hopkinton’s Stephen Signor

“Hopkinton switched to a 1-3-1 trap defense and we didn’t get anything against that. It was a good learning experience for us trying to find gaps in our opponents, but Hopkinton is a really good team.” – Winnisquam’s Kevin Dame

Records: Hopkinton 7-0; Winnisquam 1-5

GIRLS’ NORDIC SKIING

Concord first

Key players: Concord – Heather Deacon (3rd, 13:49), Kaitlyn Watt (5th, 14:26)

Highlights/key moments: Concord finished with six skiers in the top 10, including Julie Deacon (6th, 15:17), Johanne Nichols (9th, 16:42) and Ciara Cooper (10th, 17:06), at the six-team Keene Invitational at Granite Gorge on Tuesday.

Kearsarge first, Bow fourth

Key players: Kearsarge – Lili Baer (1st, 17:57), Marliese Baer (3rd, 19:38), Jenna Bears (5th, 20:39)

Highlights/key moments: Kearsarge showed its depth in Tuesday’s classic race at Proctor Academy, finishing with six skiers in the top ten at the five-team event. Led by the Baer sisters, Kearsarge opened up the season with a commanding showing.

Coach’s quote: “We were so happy to see 63 skiers in the girls’ race today. It makes the skiing more exciting and fun. Jenna Bears, Marliese and Lili Baer were as strong as we expected, but the results from Jenna Cook (9th), Mya Dube (7th) and Hayden Keene (8th) give us a really deep team that will continue to push each other all season.” – Kearsarge’s Kevin Lee

BOYS’ NORDIC SKIING

Concord first

Key players: Concord – Nathaniel Nichols (1st, 10:38), Oliver Spencer (2nd, 10:55), Cameron Brochu (3rd, 10:59), Gavin Graham (4th, 12:00), Eben Bragg (5th, 12:04)

Highlights/key moments: The Tide boys left their competition in the dust, sweeping the top six positions and cruising to a 29.5-point advantage over second-place Keene at the seven-team Keene Invitational. Antonino Tomas was the sixth Concord skier to cross the finish line, recording a course time of 12:36.

Kearsarge first, Bow third, Belmont sixth

Key players:Kearsarge – Trevor Pauling (4th, 17:02), Hunter Burns (5th, 17:25); Belmont – Zach Ennis (1st, 15:15)

Highlights/key moments: In the first classic race of the year, Zach Ennis showed why he’s favored to dominate Division III this season winning the race handily. Kearsarge prevailed as a team besting White Mountains by five points and Bow by ten in the six-team event.

Coach’s quote: “We were really happy with the race today. Not just because of the results, there were many skiers who were competing in the classic style for the first time and they all did wonderful.” – Kearsarge’s Kevin Lee