Concord girls’ basketball sweeps pair from Merrimack Valley

Monitor staff
Published: 1/16/2021 5:45:23 PM

The Concord High girls’ basketball team has had a clear focus during its shortened preseason – defense. That practice has paid off during its first two games of the season as the Division I Crimson Tide locked down D-II Merrimack Valley to sweep a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday.

“Defense is the key for us. We haven’t had much time to get everything we need in, but every team is in that boat,” Concord coach Tim LaTorra said after Friday’s 46-26 win in Penacook. “We decided that if we can defend to the best of our ability, that the offense will follow.”

While every team had to cope with a preseason with new health and safety guidelines and without scrimmages, the Tide was actually in a smaller boat than most teams. All schools were allowed to begin full team practices for winter sports on Dec. 14, but Concord athletics was put on pause just one day later and didn’t resume until Jan. 4.

But that was clearly enough time for the girls’ basketball team to install its defense. The Tide pitched a shutout in the first quarter of its season, taking a 7-0 lead against MV on Friday that went to 17-5 by halftime.

Of course defense comes a little bit easier with a starting lineup loaded with height, experience and athleticism like Concord’s does, with 6-foot-1 junior forward Elizabeth Blinn, 6-foot senior forward Jordyn Lengle, 5-10 sophomore guard Ava Woodman and 5-8 junior guard Elli Cox.

“We knew we had our hands full with Concord,” MV coach Bob McNutt said. “Their size and athleticism is tough to handle.”

Friday wasn’t the season opener for the Pride, which beat fellow D-II school Pembroke Academy, 50-47, on Wednesday. But it was a different story against D-I Concord.

After Friday night’s win in at MV, the Tide posted a 41-18 decision on Saturday afternoon in Concord. Blinn had 16 points after scoring 14 on Friday. Woodman finished with 13 points in the first game and had eight in the second, and Cox scored nine points on Friday and had seven more on Saturday.

“ I don’t feel like the final score indicated the game because we had opportunities early offensively but again we just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” McNutt said after Saturday’s game. “All the credit to Concord. We played hard and we can take some positives from both games. So, moving forward I think if we continue to play with energy and toughness, I like our chances vs anyone.

Hadleigh Sargent had 11 points on Friday for Merrimack Valley, while Macy Gordon had six points and Emily Koufos finished with eight rebounds on Saturday. The next game for the Pride (1-2) is Tuesday Bishop Brady (2-0).

Boys’ Basketball

Concord 39
Merrimack Valley 31

Key players: Concord — Anthony Brock (12 points), Gumee Mbata (9 points), Nate Bengtson (eight points), Ivan Yen (8 points); Merrimack Valley – Eli Gove (11 points), Griffin Wheeler (8 points)

Highlights: After opening the season with this win on Friday night at home, Division I Concord traveled to Penacook on Saturday morning and pulled out a 52-44 overtime decision to sweep the home-and-home series against D-II Merrimack Valley. The Tide owned a 21-11 lead at halftime on Saturday after holding MV to just three points in the second quarter, but the Pride clawed its way back in the second half and tied things up at 40-40 by the end of regulation. Overtime belonged to Concord, which will open the D-I portion of its schedule on Friday at Bedford.

Coach’s quote: “Nice way to start the season. Still working the kinks out but lots of fun. ” — Concord’s James Thorpe.

Records: Concord 2-0; Merrimack Valley 0-3.

Pittsfield 50, Nute 42

Key players: Pittsfield — Jah Gordon (19 points, 5 assist, 4 steals), Jesse MacGlashing (12 points, 6 rebounds), Ben Marcotte (6 points, 8 rebounds).

Highlights: After an evenly played first half, Pittsfield took a five-point lead at the break and stretched it to 11 with a focused defensive effort. Nute kept it interesting by hitting three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep it under double digits.

Coach’s quote: “We made an effort to get to the rim tonight. We didn’t finish with the percentages we would like to see, but we got the shots we wanted to.” — Pittsfield’s Jay Darrah.

Records: Pittsfield 2-0; Nute 0-2.

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