Girls’ basketball: Hopkinton’s season comes to an end to top-ranked Conant, but there’s ‘nothing to hang their heads about’

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 02-25-2023 1:23 AM

BOW – One thing Hopkinton head coach Pat Roye never had to worry about with his team this year? Effort.

Even in the No. 5 Hawks season-ending 46-31 loss to No. 1 Conant (19-1) in the Division III semifinals at Bow High School on Friday night, they displayed the grit and determination and heart that sustained them throughout a highly-successful season.

It was always going to be a challenge for Hopkinton (14-5) to slow down Conant’s outside shooting ability, particularly seniors Brynn Rautiola and Emma Tenters. Rautiola finished the game with 17 points; Tenters had 13. In the first half, the Orioles connected on 50% of their field goal attempts, including 5-of-13 on 3-pointers.

The Hawks also struggled mightily offensively, especially in the second quarter when they didn’t score for the first 4:30 of the period and totaled only three points across the eight minutes. For the game, Hopkinton shot 9-for-41 from the field – a paltry 22% – and was just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Trailing 36-13 coming out of halftime, Hopkinton scratched and clawed and held Conant to just 10 points total in the second half on 2-of-15 shooting. But the 23-point deficit was too much to overcome. 

The Hawks trimmed Conant’s lead to 41-21 at the end of three quarters and opened the fourth on an 8-0 run to make it 41-29 with 4:15 remaining, but that was as close as it would get.

“Conant has general overall high skill and very high basketball IQ,” Roye said. “We didn’t have that kind of firepower, but we gave it what we had, and the kids did a nice job.”

The final buzzer brought with it not only the end of Hopkinton’s season but the end of the careers of eight of its 12 players. 

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Senior Maddie Carmichael concluded her career with a team-best 11 points. Fellow seniors Ava Lambert (seven points), Hannah Pecce (five points), Elise Miner (four points) and Beth Taylor (two points) produced the rest of the Hawks scoring. 

While not the outcome anyone draped in Hopkinton green hoped for, the Hawks left it all out on the court.

“I never question the effort with these girls,” Roye said. “They play hard no matter what.”

It’s a message he made sure to reiterate to his team at halftime.

“I told them, ‘If this is it for us, let’s play like us. Let’s stop playing tentative, and let’s go get them; let’s attack them,’ and I thought the second half they did.”

But that late surge wasn’t quite enough to bring them across the finish line. Instead, Roye and his team can reflect on what was a strong 2022-23 campaign. The Hawks never lost back-to-back games and lost only two true road games. 

As Roye emphasized, it’s hard to not be proud of a team for reaching the final four, as much as he would’ve loved to have had the chance to play for the D-III championship trophy on Saturday. 

“I couldn’t be happier with these kids,” he said. “Achieving a final four is an amazing accomplishment. It’s unfortunate it ended this way, but they have nothing to hang their heads about. They did a great job all year.”

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