Girls’ basketball: Pembroke off to the D-II semifinals after beating Bow for the third time this season

Bow guards Ella Trefethen (left) and Gabriella Tarsa surround Pembroke guard Anne Phillips during the second half of the Division II quarterfinals on Saturday.

Bow guards Ella Trefethen (left) and Gabriella Tarsa surround Pembroke guard Anne Phillips during the second half of the Division II quarterfinals on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Bow guard Ella Trefethen (top) and Pembroke guard Kate Stephens fall over trying to chase down a loose basketball.

Bow guard Ella Trefethen (top) and Pembroke guard Kate Stephens fall over trying to chase down a loose basketball. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Pembroke forward Annelise Dexter (21) gets tangled up with Bow guard Bryana Szepan trying to secure a rebound during the second half of Saturday’s Division II quarterfinal.

Pembroke forward Annelise Dexter (21) gets tangled up with Bow guard Bryana Szepan trying to secure a rebound during the second half of Saturday’s Division II quarterfinal. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-02-2024 10:02 PM

Modified: 03-04-2024 11:15 AM


PEMBROKE – Over the previous two seasons, no team has caused Pembroke girls’ basketball more disappointment than Bow. Each of the Spartans’ last two years ended with a loss to the Falcons in the playoffs.

But Saturday was different.

Pembroke was the No. 3 seed, Bow the No. 6 seed. Pembroke had the pressure to win this time around, but the Spartans didn’t seem fazed.

Although the game was never out of reach for Bow – the Falcons even pulled to within one possession early in the fourth quarter – it was the Spartans who took home the victory, 55-44, and advanced to the Division II semifinals to face No. 2 Laconia on Wednesday.

Pembroke (17-3) entered the playoffs having lost its final two games of the regular season. Perhaps it helped the Spartans reset and weather the storms from their opponents like they did on Saturday.

“A lot of people said, ‘Well, Pembroke’s struggling a little bit,’ (but) we had to keep coming from behind and we had to keep composure all year,” head coach Steve Langevin said. “I think being in a lot of those situations, instead of blowing teams out and winning by 20 all the time, it’s better to be in these tight games where you have to battle back and deal with some adversity.”

There was a noticeable calm about the Spartans from the opening tip, something Langevin said has sustained the group all season and helped propel them to Saturday’s win.

“Only a couple of these kids have really been here very much, (but) they just have a calm about them most of the time,” he said. “We did some not-so-smart things occasionally but, overall, they don’t get frustrated; they don’t lose it. … We try to stay even-keeled.”

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Pembroke senior Annelise Dexter led the way offensively for the Spartans with 22 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Kate Stephens (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals) and junior Kaitlin Arenella (nine points on three 3-pointers) also contributed offensively. Bow sophomore Ella Trefethen led the Falcons (14-6) with 16 points, while senior Juliette Tarsa had 10 and junior Bryana Szepan added eight.

But it was the defensive play, particularly from Pembroke in the first half, that set the tone.

“We wanted them to stay in front of people, and some people have strengths and weaknesses; we try to make sure they don’t go to their strength,” Langevin said. “I thought we did a really, really good job, especially the first half, of doing that. … I thought we helped really well when they did get some penetration. We had people in there helping and making commitments to help, not just sticking their arm out, which contained them really well and allowed us to get that cushion.”

The win means a matchup with No. 2 Laconia (17-3) in the semifinals looms on Wednesday. The two teams didn’t face each other during the season, but the Sachems are the only team that’s beaten No. 1 Concord Christian so far.

“We’re going to go and play our game,” Langevin said. “We’ve seen Laconia; we played them in the preseason, so we know them pretty well.

“We are where we should be, and now it’s whoever has the better game is going to get to the final, and at least we’re there. If we’d lost today, I think it would’ve been a disappointment from the way we started the season to where we are now.”

Meanwhile, Bow’s season comes to an end, and the Falcons will miss out on a championship game appearance for the first time in three years.

In the program’s first season under head coach Cassidy Emerson, Bow showed steady improvement throughout the year. Losing three starters from last year’s team and subsequently losing senior Sidney Roberge to injury forced Emerson to rely on some less-experienced players. That shift, she said, strongly helped improve the team cohesion.

“It doesn’t matter who we were playing. It was 110% on the court at all times, and I think some of our players that didn’t get as many minutes made it tough for me not to start them,” Emerson said. “Just the way we worked as a team and improved every single game throughout the season, it’s good for our future. We’re going to get there. This is exactly the dynamic and the environment that this team belongs in, so we’ll get there.

“I think we improved in every way possible this year, truly. Such a good group.”