Girls’ basketball: Merrimack Valley steadily rising among Division II programs this season

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  • Merrimack Valley guard Macy Gordon drives for two of her 12 points on Monday night. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Sydney Bailey snares a rebound in the first half against Manchester West on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Macy Gordon drives against Manchester West guard Olivia Culver (right) during the second half on Monday night. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Victoria Leak (bottom) battles Manchester West guard Kristen Winslow for a loose ball during the second half the Pride’s 55-32 girls’ basketball victory on Monday night in Penacook. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Sydney Bailey (1) goes up for a shot during the first half. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley forward Sarah Navoy goes inside the paint against Manchester West forward Brielly Silva during the second half of the Pride’s 55-32 victory against the Blue Knights on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/11/2022 10:23:15 AM

It’s the start to a season that any coach would want for their team.

The kind of season where the work put in throughout the prior months – from the weight room to open gyms – begins to pay off a little more with each game.

Merrimack Valley is in the midst of that scenario. The Pride’s win total of seven not even halfway through the Division II girls’ basketball season is already two games shy of their total from a year ago, and the Pride’s only loss so far has been to perennial power Lebanon.

MV’s latest win, a 55-32 final over Manchester West on Monday, displayed what’s made them so dynamic so far this season. Donned in white home jerseys with navy blue accents, the Pride rattled off a 9-0 run that was interrupted briefly by a layup from the visiting Blue Knights. MV responded to that one basket by reeling off an 18-0 run to end the first quarter up, 27-2. 

Both of the runs from MV featured screens at the top of the key and some classic pick-and-roll designs. If the Blue Knights (2-7) managed to play over the screen or clog the lanes to prevent the roll, the Pride had a shooter ready in the corner.

“We hadn’t practiced since last Thursday, so to come out on fire in the first quarter was nice to see,” MV assistant coach Chris Irving said. “We wanted to control the score and saw some holes in the defense.”

MV’s senior trio of Rylee Boucher, Macy Gordon and Mackenzie McDonald spearheaded the offensive effort, scoring a combined 28 points in the first half. The three finished the game with 13, 12 and 13 points, respectively.

Their nights were short-lived as each took on a different role by sitting on the bench and watching members of the junior varsity team collect valuable minutes in the second half.

It hasn’t been all smooth play for MV throughout the season, despite how some of the final scores look. Irving called the program’s wins over Kennett and Laconia “big,” and it’s a fair point. Those opponents are a combined 13-7, with the Sachems at an impressive 8-2. 

Some of the biggest tests still lie ahead for the Pride, including back-to-back nights against crosstown rival Bishop Brady on Wednesday and Thursday. They also have Pembroke (7-1), John Stark (7-1), Hollis-Brookline (7-1) and always stingy Bow (4-2) left on the schedule before the postseason tournament begins.

MV will enjoy the recent win, but it knows there’s still more work done to get to where it wants to be.

“Any win is a good win,” Irving said. “We’re not where we need to be. We’re a work in progress, but we’re getting there.”

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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