Girls’ basketball: After three losses to the Falcons last season, Pembroke finally gets the last laugh

Pembroke senior Annelise Dexter puts up a shot as Bow’s Ella Trefethen falls to the floor during Tuesday’s matchup at Bow High School.

Pembroke senior Annelise Dexter puts up a shot as Bow’s Ella Trefethen falls to the floor during Tuesday’s matchup at Bow High School. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

Pembroke’s Annelise Dexter (21) blocks a shot attempt from Bow’s Juliette Tarsa during Tuesday’s 42-35 win for the Spartans.

Pembroke’s Annelise Dexter (21) blocks a shot attempt from Bow’s Juliette Tarsa during Tuesday’s 42-35 win for the Spartans. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

Bow sophomore Ella Trefethen dribbles toward the basket during Tuesday’s matchup with Pembroke at Bow High School.

Bow sophomore Ella Trefethen dribbles toward the basket during Tuesday’s matchup with Pembroke at Bow High School. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

Spartans’ sophomore Kate Stephens shoots over Bow’s Bryana Szepan (25) and Gabriella Tarsa (11) during Tuesday’s game. Pembroke won, 42-35.

Spartans’ sophomore Kate Stephens shoots over Bow’s Bryana Szepan (25) and Gabriella Tarsa (11) during Tuesday’s game. Pembroke won, 42-35. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 01-02-2024 10:53 PM

Modified: 01-03-2024 5:48 AM


BOW – It was far from a pretty game of basketball. In the first half, it was total slog. 

Pembroke (4-0) and Bow (2-2) ended the first quarter tied, 4-4, and headed to the locker room at halftime tied, 14-14. 

But over the final 16 minutes of play, it was the Spartans – who’d lost to their local rivals three times last season – who pulled away in the second half for a 42-35 win, improving to 4-0 on the season.

“It’s just a gutsy win for us,” Pembroke head coach Steve Lagevin said with a sigh of relief after the win. “One of those you have to get.”

Here are three notes from Tuesday’s matchup to open 2024:

Pembroke adjusts to playing ‘team basketball’

Even though Bow isn’t quite the dominant force it was last season, Langevin knew his team would need to play hard to come out with the win. In the first half, he said, the Falcons outworked his group. In the second half, the Spartans started to find their rhythm.

“We have to fight for it against them,” he said. “It’s not easy to get shots, and I thought we attacked a little better, and we got some nice kick outs for some 3s, and we kind of got everybody involved a little bit instead of just trying to do one thing.”

Pembroke started the third quarter on a 9-2 run, building separation that allowed the Spartans to pull away. Junior Kaitlin Arenella led the team with 16 points for the game, including four 3-pointers, while junior Taylor Renna added 12 and senior Annelise Dexter had eight.

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“They work hard, and they play good defense, so they make you work for what you get,” Langevin said of Bow. “But I think what stood out for us at the end was our team play. We saw pass, pass, pass, layup. It’s not just all 1 v. 1. When we play that way, we do much better.”

Spartans continue to build on experience

Last year, it was the Falcons who were the more experienced team. This year, the tables are turned, with the Spartans bringing back several key players, including Dexter who scored the 1,000th point of her career against John Stark in last Friday’s Capital Classic third-place game.

While Bow generally minimized her impact on Tuesday’s game, Pembroke’s depth helped it overcome its best player being held in check.

“We have almost everybody back. That’s part of the help,” Langevin said, comparing where both teams stand compared to last year. “Now we’re the little more experienced team. Last year we were really young, and we’re still young, but young with more experience now.”

Falcons show grit but have lots more work to do

Head coach Cassidy Emerson rarely has to worry about her team’s effort. Even with Bow trailing 38-25 with 4:18 left in the game, the Falcons made things interesting, cutting the score to 40-33 less than three minutes later. Although the deficit had become too big to overcome, there are positives for Emerson to take away as the team looks ahead.

“This team doesn’t give up, and that’s one thing I’ve taught, and that’s the goal for the program,” she said. “Down by 30, up by 30, the game’s not over until the final buzzer, and that’s kind of how we coach. They have a lot of grit. They’re intense. They don’t like to lose. But they just don’t give up, and that’s one thing special about this group.”

Two glaring areas for improvement stood out in Tuesday’s game, though. Defensively, the Falcons struggled covering the pass to the corner for 3-point attempts, frequently leaving Arenella open for easy looks. On offense, it was the lack of ability to finish around the rim that doomed Bow’s chances.

“A lot of it stems from confidence,” Emerson said of the struggles on offense. “They get blocked once, and then they see (the defenders) there and they kick it out. I continue to tell them, ‘Go back up, look for your teammates diving off the ball, give them an upfake, try to get to the foul line,’ so we really just try to stress that in practice. We’re trying to work on the upfakes. They had a ton of clean blocks. That’s just the type of players they are. I think if we had done a couple upfakes, I think we could’ve gotten to the foul line, but we’ll work on it more. It’s only the (fourth) game for us. It’s early.”