Girls’ basketball: No. 4 John Stark gears up for the challenge of No. 1 Concord Christian

John Stark center Eleanor Girardet goes up for a rebound during the second half of a game against Bow in late January. The Generals meet No. 1 Concord Christian in the D-II girls’ basketball semifinals on Wednesday.

John Stark center Eleanor Girardet goes up for a rebound during the second half of a game against Bow in late January. The Generals meet No. 1 Concord Christian in the D-II girls’ basketball semifinals on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff file

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-05-2024 1:22 PM

Modified: 03-05-2024 11:16 PM


If No. 4 John Stark is able to take down top-seeded Concord Christian in Wednesday night’s Division II girls’ basketball semifinal, it’ll be because of the Generals’ experience and composure. At least, that’s what head coach Tiffany Lewis is banking on.

Since losing to Hanover on Jan. 15, the Generals (16-4) have won 12 of their last 13 games, including Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup against No. 5 Pelham, where strong shooting and solid defense set the tone in their 59-56 victory.

In that game, seniors Eleanor Girardet (17 points), Avery Geaumont (15 points) and Izabel Korbet (12 points) all reached double figures in scoring. The relatively even distribution on offense is something John Stark hopes to replicate on Wednesday against a CCA team that beat No. 9 Derryfield, 53-18, in its quarterfinal and has won state championships in each of the last two seasons, in Division IV in 2022 and Division III in 2023.

“Just being able to spread the ball out because I feel like we have threats with Eleanor down low, and then we have threats on the perimeter with Avery, Abby (Duclos), Izabel, always ready to shoot from the perimeter,” Lewis said of a focus entering Wednesday’s game. “Being able to have that inside-out game, I think, will hopefully be a benefit for us (Wednesday) in that game.”

The Generals hope to follow a similar playbook that led them to victory against Pembroke – also a D-II semifinalist – in the final game of the regular season. John Stark kept the game close throughout and was able to walk away with a 63-57 win.

Lewis is harping on a similar message heading into Wednesday.

“We talked about at practice (about) just keeping it a game, like we have with Pembroke,” she said. “Keeping ourselves in the game and sticking to what we know and our basketball that we play. When we play our basketball, that’s when we’re playing at our best and we share the ball, just not changing what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks and being able to stay with that.”

John Stark also has its fair share of experience on the floor. All five of its starters are seniors, so Lewis is hopeful that the moment isn’t too big for them, even as they stare down an opponent that’s dominated at practically every level of New Hampshire high school basketball in recent years.

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That’s why keeping the game close from the start will be so vital. The longer the Generals hang around, the more game pressure builds on the Kingsmen (18-1) and the higher the odds that John Stark can come away with an upset and punch its ticket to the D-II championship game on Saturday at UNH.

“I think they’re excited,” Lewis said. “They’ve been looking forward to the playoffs. I have five seniors that start, and they’ve been honed in at practice. We had a solid practice (Monday); we’re looking forward to practice again (Tuesday) and just having our game prep and being as ready as we can be for the game (on Wednesday).

“I’m hoping that experience is helpful for us. I know that they’re experienced, too, because they’ve won the last two years in Division III and Division IV, but hopefully we’re able to keep our composure and just have a great game.”