THE KENNETT girls' hoop team celebrates its fourth consecutive Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash title on Sunday, Dec. 29. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 06, 2014FARMINGTON — For the fourth year in a row, the Kennett girls were the final team standing in the Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash at Farmington High School.
It wasn't the prettiest of games, but the Eagles pushed through and came away with a 44-35 win over Pittsfield on Sunday, Dec. 29.
"They play a slow, methodical game and we can't get caught up in that," coach Larry Meader said. "We slowed our pace down instead of pushing the ball.
"We kind of fell into the same pace as them," Meader continued. "It worked for them. We have to play more uptempo and we didn't' do it."
The Panthers did score the first bucket of the game, but Kennett came back with a four-point play from Juliauna Dunlop to take a 4-2 lead. After Pittsfield hit the next two buckets to go up by two, the Eagles went on a 6-0 run, with Kaylin Samia hitting a hoop and Dunlop draining a three before a Leah Kelemen free throw gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead.
Pittsfield cut the lead to two, but Dunlop hit a pair of free throws down the stretch to take a 12-8 lead to the second quarter.
Rachel Samia hit a hoop to open the second quarter, but Pittsfield answered with a three-pointer to cut the lead to just three. Dunlop answered with a three, but the Eagles came back with two threes, tying the game at 17 with just 30 seconds to go in the first half.
The Panthers made a bit for a final hoop at the buzzer, but the shooter was fouled and made one of three free throws, giving Pittsfield the 18-17 lead at the half.
The third quarter belonged to the Eagles, as they held Pittsfield to just eight points while scoring 17 of their own to open up a 34-26 lead.
A Kelemen free throw tied the game early before Pittsfield hit a hoop. Dunlop then hit consecutive hoops to put the Eagles up by two, but the Panthers tied the game at 22. Dunlop then drained a three and converted a three-point play off a Kaylin Samia steal for the 28-22 lead. Dunlop then finished off a nice feed from Erin Milford to up the lead and Milford then drained her own hoop for a 32-22 lead for the Eagles. Pittsfield finally got on the board again with a free throw, but Taylor Larson put back a rebound to up the lead to 34-23. Pittsfield drained a three-pointer to close out the quarter, with the Eagles leading 34-26 heading to the final frame.
Gwynn McGinley and Dunlop hit early free throws in the fourth and the Eagle defense turned up the heat, as they forced four consecutive turnovers. However, the Eagles could only turn one of those turnovers into points, as Kelemen put the ball in the net after the third turnover.
The Eagles were able to capitalize a little more down the stretch, as Kelemen hit another hoop and Dunlop drained one. Rachel Samia and Kelemen each hit from the free throw line to prevent the Panthers from getting any closer and the Eagles captured the 44-35 win.
"Our energy h as to be like it was in the third quarter," Meader said. "I tell them they need 32 minutes, today I think we played maybe 18 to 20 minutes."
Meader was impressed with players who stepped up, noting Rachel Samia played some key minutes and Kelemen had some big buckets at the end. Larson and Gianna Jones also came in and played some solid minutes.
He also praised the work of Kaylin Samia, who he says often goes unnoticed.
"Kaylin does all the dirty work and she doesn't get a lot of credit," Meader said.
Dunlop finished with 27 points to lead the way for the Eagles.
Dunlop and Milford were selected to the All-Tournament Team and Kaylin Samia was presented with the Betty Vachon Award for her sportsmanship throughout the tournament.
The Eagles will be back in action with a trip to Wolfeboro on Friday, Jan. 10, for a 6:30 p.m. game against Kingswood. The game will be serving as a fundraiser for Kingswood senior Emily Jewett, who was injured in a car accident in December and remains hospitalized.
The Eagles will then be hosting Berlin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com.