Season recap: Bow girls’ basketball the unequivocal best among Division II area teams for the 2022-23 season

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-14-2023 12:14 PM

Five of the six area Division II girls’ basketball teams reached the playoffs in 2022-23. The Bow Falcons (20-1) led the way as the top team, though they couldn’t quite cap off the season with a championship, losing 38-37 to Kennett at the University of New Hampshire on Sunday.

The Falcons battled back in that championship game, taking a 29-27 lead in the third quarter after trailing 25-15 at halftime. But after Bella LaPerle was called for a foul as time expired, the Eagles had the opportunity to shoot two free throws and won the game.

“They truly are a cohesive unit,” head coach Phil Davis said of his team after the crushing loss. “I hope they learn that through victory or adversity, you stick together. This isn’t anybody’s fault. This is the game of sports. Whether that’s professional, college, high school, things like this happen, and I hope they just stick together through this adversity which they’re feeling right now.”

Davis graduates three of his five starters heading into next season: Alex Larrabee and Lyndsey and Bella LaPerle. Larrabee was named first-team all-state by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization; the LaPerles were both honorable mentions.

The first team the Falcons beat in the postseason, the No. 8 Pembroke Spartans, finished the season 14-6. The overall success came as a bit of a surprise for a roster with just one senior.

Even after their season came to an end with a 57-36 loss to Bow, head coach Steve Langevin expressed optimism about the state of the program.

“This wasn’t a devastating loss for them,” he said after the March 4 defeat. “It’s stuff to build on. They see what a championship-level team is, and I know how hard (Bow) works in practice, and we talked about how we need to foster that a little bit more on our own if they want to get to where they’re at.”

Pembroke returns its entire starting five from that playoff game next season, including Annelise Dexter, who had 16 points in the quarterfinal defeat. Dexter was the third-highest scorer in D-II during the regular season, averaging 19.3 points per game and was named first-team all-state for D-II by the NHBCO.

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No. 9 Merrimack Valley had its season come to an end after losing to Pembroke in the first round, 47-39, finishing 11-8 overall. It was the Pride’s third loss to the Spartans and was another challenging offensive performance for Bob McNutt’s team, a common theme throughout the year.

While the Pride allowed more than 45 points in just three games this season, MV also only exceeded the 50-point threshold on offense four times.

Still, the Pride was consistently one of the toughest teams to face because of its defense.

“I’m proud of our girls and how they came back. It was a good game for us overall and a good season,” McNutt told the Monitor after the Pembroke loss. “Hopefully we can build upon that for next year.”

MV will lose six seniors from this year’s team, including Hadleigh Sargent, who contributed on both sides of the ball, averaging 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.8 steals per game. She was named to the honorable mention list for D-II by the NHBCO and won the Jack Ford Award, which considers basketball performance, academic performance and community service involvement.

Like MV, John Stark and Bishop Brady fell short in first-round playoff matchups.

The No. 12 seed, John Stark scuffled a bit at the end of the regular season, dropping three of its last four games, before losing 59-44 to No. 5 Laconia in the first round.

“This wasn’t the ending that we wanted, but all of the girls that stepped on the court tonight gave everything they had and fought hard. I am very proud of all of them,” head coach Tiffany Lewis told the Monitor.

John Stark graduates three seniors from this year’s team: Sophia McGinty, Meghan Mefford and Emma Dobbins.

No. 13 Brady met a similar fate, losing to No. 4 Hanover, 51-30. The Giants lost six in a row near the end of the campaign before winning their final regular season game against Lebanon to improve their seeding for the tournament.

“Our girls came out and showed what they have all year: resilience and perseverance,” head coach Sal Alosa told the Monitor. “They played with a ton of heart and left it all on the floor. Want to wish the best to our three graduating seniors, Meg (Pellerin), Isabelle (Lamm) and Morgan (Wheeler). Excited for the future of our program.”

CoeBrown was the only area girls’ basketball team to miss out on the playoffs. The Bears finished the season 4-14, losing nine of their last 10 games.

Head coach Joe Vachon will lose five seniors: Megan Adams, Alexis Cowan, Emma Broadstone, Geneva Telehala and Rowan Carr.

“The effort by this team is amazing,” he said after the Bears’ lost 45-37 against Milford to close out the season. “Our record is not good, but I would coach this team any day.”

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