High schools: No. 6 Hopkinton falls to No. 5 Conant, 36-30, in D-III girls’ basketball championship

  • Hopkinton’s Katie Meserve goes up against Conant’s Mariah Chamberlain. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Conant’s Taylor Banish (left) and Hopkinton’s Amelia Thomas wrestle for possession Saturday during the Division III girls’ basketball championship at Southern New Hampshire University. The Orioles won, 36-30. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hopkinton and Conant players battle for possession on Saturday during the Division III girls’ basketball championship. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • ABOVE: Hopkinton’s Amelia Thomas absorbs a foul by Conant’s Mariah Chamberlain on Saturday during the Division III girls’ basketball championship at Southern New Hampshire University. The Orioles used a strong fourth quarter to earn a 36-30 victory over the Hawks. BELOW: Hopkinton’s Katie Meserve (right) looks to shoot while Chamberlain defends during the Division III final in Manchester. Ben Conant photos / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monitor staff
Sunday, March 04, 2018

MANCHESTER – Right after Saturday’s championship game, as they were accepting their runner-up medals, there were tears for the Hopkinton girls. But not much later, laughter bubbled from their locker room at Southern New Hampshire University.

“Coach was actually quoting Dr. Seuss and Kermit the Frog,” Hopkinton senior Taylor Signor said with a smile that reached her red eyes. “It hurts to lose right now, but I think everyone is also realizing what we accomplished as a team, going from not even making the playoffs last year to going to the finals this year. We made our families and our town proud. It’s tough to focus on that now, but we’re trying to look at the positives.”

While the Hawks went 6-12 last year, and hadn’t been to a championship game since 2003, Conant has been to the Division III final three times in the last four years. That experience certainly played a role as the fifth-seeded Orioles (18-4) outscored No. 6 Hopkinton (17-5) by seven points in the fourth quarter to claim a 36-30 win and the D-III crown.

“We hesitated (in the fourth), and I think what you saw is a team that’s been there three of the last four years and a team that got here for the first time in 15 years,” said Pat Roye, Hopkinton’s Seuss-quoting coach. “So I think we were a little tighter than we’ve been in the tournament, but you’ve got to give it to Conant, they did a great job.”

Conant may have experience with the championship stage, but both teams showed nerves to start the game. Hopkinton missed five of its first six shots, while only one Oriole, center Mariah Chamberlain (game-high 13 points), scored in the first quarter as the Hawks took an 8-6 lead after one.

“Both teams had jitters,” said Hopkinton senior Abby Houston, who finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists.

There was even less offense in the second quarter. The Hawks did a good job collapsing on Chamberlain in the post while the Orioles contested Hopkinton’s shooters with shifting defenses. The result was a 15-12 halftime lead for Conant and two teams that welcomed the chance to compose themselves in the locker room.

“At halftime coach took us in and calmed us down,” Houston said. “He told us 16 more minutes to play hard and leave everything out on the floor, so that pulled us back together.”

It certainly did. The Hawks shot just 26.2 percent for the game (11-for-42), but in the third quarter they went 5-for-9. Amelia Thomas scored five of her seven points in the frame, including a smooth and-one post move around Chamberlain to tie things at 23-23 with 3:01 left in the frame. And when Signor (five points, three assists, two steals) hit a 3 in the final minute of the third, Hopkinton claimed a 26-25 lead it would carry into the final quarter.

But in that fourth, the championship stage grew bigger, brighter and louder.

“It got loud in there in the fourth,” Signor said. “We sort of fell apart and it was hard to get the focus back as a team. It was just so loud, I’ve never heard that before.”

The Hawks went scoreless in the fourth until Houston hit a jumper with 3:37 left on the clock, but the good news for Hopkinton was Conant was also feeling the pressure and Houston’s bucket tied the game at 28-28.

The Orioles found a five-point cushion, which felt huge in this game, when Chamberlain grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and laid it in to make it 33-28. Hopkinton’s Ellie Owen answered with an offensive putback of her own at the other end and it was a one-possession game, 33-30, with 2:14 to play.

The Hawks had three possessions to erase that three-point deficit, but they missed two shots and committed a turnover. Conant freshman Elizabeth Gonyea (12 points, 11 rebounds), who owned the defensive glass in the fourth, hit a pair of free throws with 24.2 seconds left to push the lead to five points. And after another Hopkinton miss, Gonyea hit one more freebie with 11.4 seconds left for the game’s final point.

“You forget that she’s only 14 years old,” Conant coach Brian Troy said of Gonyea. “You think she’s a junior or a senior. She persevered and she’s just so competitive day in and day out. She really brought this team to another level and I’m not sure if we win the championship without her.”

It ended a special season for Hopkinton, which exceeded expectations by going 14-4 in the regular season and then knocking off No. 3 Newfound and No. 2 Gilford on its way to the final.

“I can’t be disappointed,” Roye said. “I am nothing but proud of these kids. They are amazing. They got here the old-fashioned way. They did it with hard work and team work and it was a dream season right up until the last minute and a half.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341, tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)


No. 8 Monadnock 52, No. 1 Hopkinton 43

Highlights/key moments: The Huskies avenged an early season loss, shocking the top-seeded Hawks with an upset victory on Hopkinton’s home floor. Monadnock had a 40-31 lead at the end of the third quarter and the Hawks couldn’t close the gap to keep their season alive.

Records: Monadnock 14-6; Hopkinton 17-3

No. 3 Berlin 56, No. 6 Gilford 50

Highlights/key moments: The Eagles beat the Mountaineers by 13 points in the regular season, but couldn’t repeat a victory in the playoffs, ending their season in the quarterfinals of the D-III tourney.

Records: Berlin 17-3; Gilford 15-5

No. 2 Somersworth 57, No. 10 Belmont 43

Highlights/key moments: The Hilltoppers ended the Raiders’ campaign in the quarterfinals, defeating Belmont for the second time this season.

Records: Somersworth 18-2; Belmont 12-8


No. 1 Concord 8, No. 8 Salem 1

Key players: Concord – Colin Kastle (goal, 4 assists), Liam O’Brien (5 assists), Cam Lariviere (2 goals), Kyle McKinnon (2 goals), Drew Livingston (goal), Andrew Paquette (goal), Shane Riley (goal), Evan Makris (assist), Jake Sullivan (assist), Michael Stoddard (assist), Colin O’Brien (assist), Spencer Burgess (6 saves)

Highlights/key moments: The Tide took a 3-1 first-period lead, stretched it to 4-1 in the second period and dominated Saturday’s quarterfinal from start to finish, blowing out a Blue Devils team that Concord only beat 2-1 in overtime two weeks ago. The Tide left no doubt in this one though, outshooting Salem by a 43-7 margin. Concord advances to the semifinals and will play No. 4 Bedford at JFK Coliseum in Manchester on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Coach’s quote: “We’ve been playing pretty well down the stretch here. We’ve just got to keep it going.” – Concord’s Dunc Walsh

Records: Concord 17-2-0; Salem 10-10-1


No. 2 John Stark-Hopkinton 4,
No. 7 Moultonborough-Inter-Lakes 1

Key players: Stark-Hopkinton – Paul Molnar (goal, assist), Owen Olson (2 assists), Thayer Maughan (goal), Benny Madden (goal), Brett Patnode (goal), Jameson Bourque (13 saves); M-I-L – Garrett McCarthy (goal), Hunter Sanders (32 saves)

Highlights/key moments: Madden broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and the General Hawks tacked on two more goals in the third to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against No. 3 Monadnock-Fall Mountain at Plymouth State at 5:30 p.m.

Coach’s quote: “We came out ready to play today, pressuring them deep in our offensive zone. (The Renegades) played a strong game in front of their net blocking many of our shots.” – Stark-Hopkinton’s Denis Kolehmainen

Records: Stark-Hopkinton 14-3-2; M-I-L 8-10-1

No. 5 Belmont-Gilford 3,
No. 4 Berlin-Gorham 1

Highlights/key moments: The Bulldogs lost twice to Berlin-Gorham in the regular season (both by 5-3 scores), but turned the tables in the quarterfinals, earning a berth in Wednesday’s D-III semifinal against No. 1 Kennett. The semifinal game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Plymouth State University.

Records: Belmont-Gilford 11-7-1; Berlin-Gorham 13-5-1

No. 1 Kennett 6,
No. 8. Somersworth/Coe-Brown 0

Highlights/key moments: The powerhouse Eagles earned their 11th trip to the semifinals in the last 12 years and ending the Bearcats’ season in the quarterfinals.

Records: Kennett 18-1; Somersworth/Coe-Brown 9-11


New England Championshiops

Key players:Belmont – Hunter Dupuis (16th 300), Nick Randos (23rd 1,000); Concord – Matt O’Brien (18th 1,000), Forest MacKenzie (19th 2 mile), Josh Adams (23rd 600),

Highlights/key moments: Dupuis was the top area finisher at the New England Championships held in Boston. Winnacunnet’s Billy Powers won the only New England title for New Hampshire, winning the 55 hurdles in 7.4 seconds.


New England Championships

Key players:Coe-Brown – Kathleen Collins (6th shot put); Belmont – Sana Syed (26th 55 hurdles)

Highlights/key moments: Collins was the top area finisher at New Englands, tossing the shot 37 feet, 3¾ inches for a sixth-place finish. New Hampshire had three New England champions, including Exeter’s Jackie Gaughan, who set a New England record in the 2 mile, clocking a 10:09.2. Manchester West’s Julia Robitaille (mile in 4:55, third in 2 mile) and Milford’s Viankah Williams (long jump in 18 feet, inches) also won titles.


New England Championships

Key players: Concord – Alex Buteau (reached quarterfinals in 220-pound division), Isaac Habimana (quarterfinals in 152), Sam Wagner (round of 16 in 106), Noah Giffard (round of 16 in 195), Isaac Gladey (round of 32 in 170)

Highlights/key moments: Habimana won 6-1 and 8-6 decisions to advance to the quarterfinals, before finally being taken down in the quarterfinals in a 12-2 major decision. Buteau and Giffard also won bouts in their divisions. Buteau won by pin in 57 seconds after receiving a first-round bye, but lost 5-1 and 7-4 decisions in the quarterfinals and consolation round. Giffard won his opening-round bout in a 3-2 decision before losing by pin in the round of 16.