Basketball: John Stark girls pick up road win over Bishop Brady, return to D-II semifinals

  • The John Stark girls’ basketball team celebrates after defeating Bishop Brady in the Division II quarterfinals on Friday night in Concord. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

  • The John Stark girls' basketball team celebrates as the final seconds tick off the clock of their Division II quarterfinal victory at Bishop Brady. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

  • The John Stark girls' basketball team celebrates a victory over Bishop Brady in the Division II quarterfinals on Friday in Concord. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

  • John Stark's Anna Stenger (11) fights for a rebound with Bishop Brady's Isabella Rivera (10), Marissa Payne (23) and Kaylee Smith (3) on Friday during the Division II girls' basketball quarterfinals in Concord. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

  • John Stark’s Autumn Nelson (right) and Bishop Brady’s Isabella Rivera (10) dive for a ball on Friday night during the Division II girls’ basketball quarterfinals in Concord. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

  • John Stark coach Bruce Johnson talks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Division II girls' basketball quarterfinals at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. Jason Orfao / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/2/2019 12:12:31 AM

The last place the John Stark girls’ basketball team wanted to be was stuck in a track meet against one of the fastest-paced teams in Division II with a seat in the semifinals up for grabs.

For a while, that’s exactly where the defensive-minded Generals ended up in Friday night’s quarterfinal battle against Bishop Brady in Concord.

“We were playing exactly what they wanted and we weren’t taking good shots,” Stark coach Bruce Johnson said. “If they were good shots, I don’t mind the hard transition, but we were just catching it, and oh my God, I’m not sure what we were doing, but we were throwing it up there.”

So instead of trying to keep pace, the sixth-seeded Generals finally slowed the game down. Composed and under control over the final 24 minutes, No. 5 John Stark erased a six-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Giants, 22-10, in the third quarter and iced the game at the free-throw line in the final frame en route to a 71-56 victory over No. 4 Bishop Brady.

“Applause to Stark, they did a good job,” said Brady coach Annie Alosa after Stark eliminated the Giants from the playoffs for a second straight season.

“They hit some big buckets and we had some unlucky calls in the second half, but offensively we just didn’t get our rhythm,” Alosa said. “We just didn’t get our tempo and rhythm in the second half.”

Sophomore Brady Johnson led all Stark scorers with 18 points, joining three other teammates – Anna Stenger (13), Autumn Nelson (12) and Chelsea Woodsum (11) – in double figures.

After falling one step short of a championship a season ago with their Cinderella run as the No. 13 seed, the Generals, who will take on No. 1 Hanover in Tuesday’s semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University, were hungry to return to the big stage.

But they knew they had to get past the dangerous offense of Bishop Brady first, and the Giants could not have started any hotter.

Coming in averaging 69 points per game, Brady opened the contest by pushing the pace and spreading the floor around point guard Ami Rivera. The Giants connected on four 3-pointers in the first 2:30, including two from Rivera, to take an early 14-2 lead over a frazzled Stark unit.

The Generals, though, slowly made their back at the end of the first quarter, and tied the game at 20-all early in the second on a 3 from Brady Johnson.

That shot was the start of 10 straight points for Johnson, who kept Stark afloat in the quarter after coming into the night questionable to even suit up.

It left quite an impression on her team.

“We gave her the opportunity and she came through and did very well,” coach Johnson said of the sophomore, who had been plagued by illness and injuries of late.

“She’s coming off a broken ankle so I think for her to come out on fire like that really helped us out and she deserved it honestly,” Woodsum, a Stark junior forward, said.

It wasn’t enough to give Stark a lead, though, as Rivera and Kaylee Smith hit back-to-back 3s – giving the Giants eight for the half – to close out the quarter with Brady ahead, 35-29.

“I think the first half they definitely controlled the tempo,” Woodsum said. “In the second half I felt like we played more of our game and stopped trying to keep up with them.”

The Generals opened the second half on an 8-0 run and began to limit the Giants’ transition, forcing them to find ways score in the halfcourt as the two sides went back-and-forth in the third quarter.

Just when it looked like Stark was going to pull away, ahead by six after a 16-4 spurt, Rivera splashed home a pull-up 3 and then sent a pass over to her sister, Isabella, on the next possession for another clutch shot from beyond the arc to make it a two-point game.

Rivera, the engine behind Brady’s offense, simply refused to give up. She scored a game-high 24 points and seemingly hit a big shot anytime the Giants needed one.

“She just loves the big games and she’s got an amazing work ethic,” Alosa said. “She just has that gamer mentality so definitely applause to her for stepping up and making some big plays.”

Rivera’s effort alone wasn’t enough.

The Giants needed a second scorer to step up against Stark’s suffocating defense and couldn’t find one, going cold from 3-point range in the second half and posting just 21 points. Meanwhile, Stark was grinding away inside and used the foul line to finish off the Giants.

Rivera swished home one more 3-pointer early in the fourth to cut Stark’s lead to 53-51. But that’s as close as Brady would get as the team was in foul trouble and sent Stark to the line 15 times in the quarter. The Generals connected on 11 of those attempts to pull away.

“I feel like we shoot very well at the line, so I said, ‘Let them come foul us. They’re going to have to do that and we just score from the foul line at the end. That’s fine. Let the clock run and run and this will be it,’ ” coach Johnson said.

Boys’ Basketball


No. 3 St. Thomas 60, No. 6 Hopkinton 52

Key players: St. Thomas – Shawn DeKorne (24 points, 10 rebounds), Andrew Cavanaugh (19 points, 9 rebounds); Hopkinton – Caleb Yianakopolos (11 points), Kevin Newton-Delgado (10 points), Shepyrd Murdough (10 points)

Highlights: The Hawks looked poised for an upset in the first half, leading 15-8 after the first quarter and 27-22 at halftime, but the Saints tied the game, 37-37, late in the third and took control in the fourth.

Records: St. Thomas 16-4; Hopkinton 13-7

No. 4 Campbell 62, No. 12 Winnisquam 42

Key players: Winnisquam– Phil Nichols (14 points), Angelo Glover (7 points), Gunnar Horman (6 points)

Highlights: The Bears showed they could hang with a tough Cougars squad, using a 12-4 second-quarter run to cut Winnisquam’s halftime deficit to 32-23, but hosts Campbell broke the game open in the third to take a 50-32 lead into the final frame.

Coach’s quote: “We came to life in the second quarter and closed the gap and showed we could play with them. But we exerted a little too much energy and couldn’t close it again in the third. (We have) a good group of seniors. We’ll miss them for sure. We have a good group of returning players coming back though, so hopefully we’ll back in (the playoffs) next year.” – Winnisquam’s Kevin Dame

Records: Campbell 16-4; Winnisquam 11-9

Boys’ Basketball

Concord 45, Goffstown 35

Key players: Concord – Scott Lampron (15 points), Rylan Canabano (11 points), Tyler Bruns (11 points, 8 rebounds), Winsor Bean (6 points), Jon Shamash (5 rebounds, 4 blocks)

Highlights: Concord led 19-15 at halftime and Lampron scored nine third-quarter points (including a pair of 3s) to build a 33-23 lead heading into the final frame. The Tide closed out the regular season with its fourth straight victory, giving Concord 11 on the season, the most in program history since former NBA player Matt Bonner played for Concord High. The Tide will host a preliminary round playoff game on Tuesday, the first time Concord has hosted a playoff game since 2001. Senior Bean got the Tide rolling early, scoring Concord’s first six points.

Coach’s quote: “(Goffstown) plays a tough 2-3 zone. They’ve played everybody tough this year. That was our dilemma, but we found some holes and were able to open it up (in the third quarter). Great way to go out on senior night in front of a full crowd.” – Concord’s Dave Chase

Records: Concord 11-7; Goffstown 6-12

Pembroke 68, Bow 52

Key players: Pembroke – Sean Menard (17 points), Noah Cummings (15 points), Tim Pitman (14 points), Shea Shackford (9 points)

Highlights: The Falcons held a 10-8 lead after one quarter of play and 28-26 at halftime, but the Spartans solved Bow’s 3-2 zone in the third quarter to take a 46-39 lead and pulled away in the fourth. Pembroke will have a top-three seed for the Division II postseason tournament starting next week.

Coach’s quote: “Bow played a really stingy 3-2 zone. In the second half we were able to use our pressure defense to open things up and knock down some shots. I certainly take my hat off to Bow. That’s a credit to their coaching staff and community. They never gave up and gave us all we could handle.” – Pembroke’s Rich Otis

Records: Pembroke 17-1; Bow 4-14

Kearsarge 55, Stevens 36

Key players: Kearsarge – Noah Tremblay (19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists), Ben Carl (9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists), Kyle Hernon (7 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks), Jak Jallah (7 points, 9 rebounds), Chris Stanchfield (4 points)

Highlights: The Cougars led from start to finish and put an exclamation point on the end of their regular season with Hernon’s first career dunk in the closing minutes. Emerson Tyler, Tyler Sidmore, Kodi Elliott and Scott Bassi were crucial to a solid defensive effort by Kearsarge that held Stevens to two first-quarter points (Cougars led 10-2 after one) and eight points in the first half (Kearsarge led 27-8 at halftime). Freshman Stanchfield scored the first varsity points of his career in the season-ending victory. Kearsarge will likely be the No. 9 seed in the Division II tournament and is expected to travel to No. 8 Souhegan on Wednesday.

Coach’s quote: “Good defensive energy and a good team win to end the season.” – Kearsarge’s Nate Camp

Records: Kearsarge 10-8; Stevens 1-17

Oyster River 46, Coe-Brown 33

Key players: Coe-Brown – Cayden Donoghue (8 points, 4 steals), Albert Lapiejko (6 points, 5 rebounds), Luke McCusker (5 points, 5 rebounds, 7 deflections), Spencer Murphy (4 points, 3 assists)

Highlights: The Bears held the top-three Bobcats at bay with a solid defensive outing, but couldn’t find the hoop, losing their regular-season finale on the road. Coe-Brown trailed 20-10 at halftime and cut the deficit to nine points in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t close the gap any further. The Bears now await the release of the Division II brackets to see their opponent in Wednesday’s tournament game.

Coach’s quote: “Defensively we played pretty solid all night. Oyster River has some offensive weapons and our defense played really well, but we were tentative on offense tonight.” – Coe-Brown’s Dave Smith

Records: Oyster River 17-1; Coe-Brown 9-9

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