Girls’ basketball: Concord shows poise in loss to Bedford

  • Concord forward Delaney Duford (left) battles Bedford guard Saphia Mumpini for possession during the first half of their Division I girls’ basketball game on Wednesday night in Concord. Duford took an elbow on the play and had to briefly leave the game. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff photographs

  • Duford (center) tangles with a group of Bedford players for a loose ball during the first half of Wednesday’s game. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord guard Olivia Crawford (right) goes up for a shot in the first half against Bedford counterpart Kate Allard. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord forward Aidah Smalley (right) gets blocked by Bedford forward Lana McCarthy during Wednesday night’s loss to the Bulldogs. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/13/2022 3:13:28 PM

Unfamiliarity is a tricky thing.

After a four-day shutdown and injuries to key players, the biggest attribute the Concord High girls’ basketball team has gained in the last few weeks is the ability to go with the flow.

And while the Tide’s recent game – a 71-29 home loss to Bedford – never flowed their way, the final score still contained important characteristics of a team that’s merely down and not out.

Concord (5-3), with all of its tough breaks this season, still has shown it’s one of the better teams in Division I. Even in a 42-point loss, there were moments of good, solid basketball that can be built upon.

Eli Cox, the lone senior dressed for the Tide on Wednesday, was the floor general and commanded the other four and tried setting up various screens in an attempt to somehow score against the taller Bulldogs. The looks were there and back-door opportunities were available for the Tide, but the ball never fell through the hoop or the open lanes were never seen.

With the absence of players, including all-state senior Elizabeth Blinn, coach Tim LaTorra was forced to put players into new spots – a forced hand that made things a bit difficult for Concord.

“We had a lot of girls playing different roles tonight than they’re used to,” he said. “When we have all of our players together, they compliment each other very well. So when you take some of those pieces out, you’re counting on people to do things they normally wouldn’t do, and that puts them in a tough situation.”

A microcosm of difficulty in an unfamiliar spot was sophomore Aidah Smalley having to play down low against the tallest players Bedford had. Smalley, at 5-foot-9, was tasked with guarding the likes of Lana McCarthy and Devlyn McDonald, both of whom had a clear height advantage. And yet Smalley held them mostly in check while also leading Concord with 12 points.

“She’s been playing against guards all year long and, in the first half, she really created some problems (underneath),” LaTorra said. “I was really proud of her for rising to the occasion and rising to the challenge.”

In a bigger picture, LaTorra was pleased to see that despite the wide deficit, his team never stopped playing, never stopped trying.

“I thought, in terms of competing, and playing hard, we did that,” he said. “You almost need everything to go right when you’re going in and playing a team like that. Our girls’ ability to stay together, the chemistry, we were all still in it together.”

He’s hopeful that more players will return to the roster soon, but until it happens Concord will have to make the most with what is present.

Its next opportunity is on Friday, when it travels to Dover for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.

Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.

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