KINGSWOOD'S Casey Sargent (left) and Emma Tierney surround Kennett's Leah Kelemen in action on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 02, 2014NORTH CONWAY — When the Kingswood and Kennett girls' basketball teams met back in January, the Eagles were without leading scorer Juliauna Dunlop (illness) and the Knights cruised to victory.
Flash forward a month and a half and the Eagles are again without Dunlop (injury), but the Knights were also a little shorthanded, with a number of players unavailable.
The Knights were still able to come out on top of their Carroll County rivals, but it was a bit closer this time around.
"We were a little shorthanded," Kingswood coach Karly Gray said. "We knew the numbers would make it difficult if we got in foul trouble."
For Eagle coach Larry Meader, with Dunlop out, he was looking for someone to step up. The last time the teams met, nobody did.
"Someone needs to step up offensively," Meader said. "Credit Arielle (Seavey), she stepped up tonight."
Seavey was the spark behind the Kennett offense in the second half, but at that point, Kingswood had taken a solid lead and didn't back down.
"In that first quarter, we couldn't hit the ocean," Gray said. "But we made some adjustments and got into more of a running game and we stuck in there."
"We gave up too many easy baskets and our free throw shots," Meader said with a look of frustration. "We work on that every single practice and we get to the line and we just don't hit them."
Both teams struggled on the offensive end in the first quarter, as the teams totaled all of nine points.
Liz McLaughlin got Kingswood off on the right foot with the game's first hoop, while Kaylin Samia followed that up with a hoop for Kennett. McLaughlin hit a free throw and Casey Sargent hit a hoop to put the Knights up 5-2, but a Leah Kelemen rebound and hoop closed out the quarter for Kennett, cutting the lead to 5-4 for the Knights after one.
Three consecutive free throws from Gianna Jones, Seavey and Gwynn McGinley propelled Kennett to the 7-5 lead to open the second quarter, but Kingswood bounced back with the final 10 points of the half.
Aimee Ball, coming off the bench to spell the starters, hit back-to-back buckets to pull Kingswood back on top. After a McLaughlin free throw, Sargent hit another hoop and McLaughlin converted a three-point play to put the Knights up by a 15-7 score at the halftime break.
The third quarter saw the teams get the offense moving just a bit more. A McGinley three and a Kelemen hoop saw the Eagles cut the lead to 15-12 to start the third quarter, but the Knights came charging right back.
The Knights hit the next six hoops and expanded the lead from three to 15. Tierney started the run with a hoop and hit another during the rally. McLaughlin hit a pair of baskets in the run and Emily Rumery and Sargent each added baskets as the Knights opened the lead to 27-12.
A McGinley free throw with 35 seconds to go in the quarter got the Eagles back on the board and Seavey hit the final hoop of the frame to cut the lead to 27-15 heading to the fourth quarter.
Kennett got off to a quick start in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles turned on the press. After an Erin Milford hoop to open the frame, Samia finished off a McGinley steal off the press and Milford finished off her own steal on the press to cut the lead to 27-21.
Sargent responded in a big way, as she drained a pair of hoops to push the lead back to 10. Seavey hit a hoop for the Eagles, but Tierney turned around and drained three buckets in a row, opening the lead up to 37-23.
Samia and Seavey hit back-to-back buckets for the Eagles, cutting the lead to 10 with three minutes to go, but Rumery hit a hoop and a free throw and Tierney turned in a big block to keep the Knights in control.
McLaughlin hit another free throw for the Knights and Kelemen hit two for the Eagles. McLaughlin hit a field goal for a 43-29 lead before Seavey hit the final two hoops of the game to cut the final score to 43-33.
Meader was happy with his team's offensive production in the second half, but noted there was a problem with the defense.
"The problem is, in the second half, our defense was horrible," Meader said. "We did a nice job offensively, but as I told them, for every basket you score, you can't give up one when you build a hole like we did.
"We have got to put it all together, we've got to have four quarters of that," the Eagle coach continued.
He pointed out that the Eagles actually went to the basket in the second half, which allowed them more chances to score.
"We went small in the second half, which seemed to get them going to the basket a little more," Meader said. "They're working hard, but offensively we just didn't take it to the basket (in the first half)."
Gray was pleased with the production she got from her girls, who once again have to continue to play long minutes.
"These girls get a lot of minutes anyway," she said. "Hopefully we can dig deep and get through it."
She noted that Ball and Casey Fusco played solid minutes off the bench, spelling the five starters.
"We got some good minutes from people who don't' always get a lot of minutes," Gray said.
McLaughlin led the way for Kingswood with 14 points, while Tierney and Sargent each put in 10 points. Seavey led the way for Kennett with 11 points.
The Division II playoffs began after deadline on Tuesday, March 4, and continue Friday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at the home of the higher seed. The semifinals are Monday, March 10, at 6 and 8 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
McLaughlin 5-4-14, Sargent 5-0-10, Ball 2-0-4, Tierney 5-0-10, Rumery 2-1-5: Totals 19-5-43
Samia 3-0-6, Kelemen 2-2-6, Jones 0-1-1, Seavey 5-1-11, McGinley 1-2-5, Milford 2-0-4: Totals 13-6-33
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com