Girls’ basketball: Kearsarge dominates second half after slow start versus White Mountain

  • Kearsarge’s Caroline Camp (front) and Ella Stocker (back) look to score against White Mountain on Wednesday night.  Brackett Lyons / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/17/2022 1:52:00 PM

For the first half, Kearsarge girls’ basketball couldn’t buy a basket. The No. 5 seeded cougars struggled mightily with No. 12 White Mountain’s zone defense and couldn’t get enough ball movement to kickstart their usually dynamic offense.

Lanes to the rim were blocked and outside shots weren't falling in a jittery opening 16 minutes. At the half, the score was level at 15 with the Cougars’ defense keeping it close. 

Everything changed in the second half. Kearsarge found some daylight thanks to back-to-back threes from junior Ella Stocker and senior Caroline Camp. Stocker wasn't done and added another four points before the end of the quarter, which gave Kearsarge a 35-26 lead with one quarter to play.  

In the fourth, Camp and Stocker were once again the engines on offense and defense for the Cougars. They helped force numerous turnovers running a trap just beyond halfcourt and Camp assisted Stocker twice, while netting a bucket of her own. By the time the final buzzer sounded what had looked like a potential upset turned into a comfortable 47-32 win for Kearsarge. Stocker finished as the team’s top scorer with 16 with Camp just behind at 15. 

“When Ella [Stocker] plays like that, we're a different team,” said Kearsarge coach Keith Roberts. “And Caroline [Camp] just gives us what Caroline gives us. I mean, that's who she is. And she's one of the best players in the state.”

Some big game nerves certainly seemed to play a factor early in the game, but Roberts said he told his team at halftime to settle in and treat it like a new ballgame.

“It was just a difficult half,” said Roberts. “I mean, it was what we expected from them. Exactly what we expected with the physicality and all that so, no complaints. I said to them at the half we’re starting 0-0.”

The difference from the first half to the second was night and day for Kearsarge. Everything just started to click for the Cougars on both ends of the floor. 

“We made shots. I mean, we just started making shots and that's what it's all about,” Roberts said. 

On a more tactical level, Roberts made some key changes in the second half that helped his team get the ball in the hoop. Camp was moved to the post, which helped trigger the offense. The shift clearly worked as Camp racked up assists in the final 16 minutes. The attention the senior drew inside also gave her teammates more room to make their shots. 

Camp was brilliant defensively as well. The guard constantly harangued and harassed White Mountain as they tried to take the ball over halfcourt. In the fourth quarter, she helped initiate several breakaways that killed any hope of a late comeback. 

The win sends Kearsarge into the quarter-finals where they will face No. 4 Newfound. The Cougars were victorious in their regular-season matchup with Newfound, escaping with a 44-42 win. Roberts said his team’s focus shifted to their next game the second the clock hit zero. 

“Forget, tonight we move on,” said Roberts. “We focus and get ready for Saturday. One down, we got three more to go on our little tour. That’s the goal.”

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