Woodsville's Tori Clough (3) drives the lane en route to a contested lay up. James Barrett. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2014WOODSVILLE — When the crowds gathered to watch the match up between the Littleton Crusaders and Woodsville Engineers girls' basketball teams on Friday, Jan. 10, none of them expected to see such a low scoring game. But what the fans got in return was one of the tightest, most competitive games this season has seen so far.
Entering the contest, the Woodsville Engineers sat at the record of 4-1. Having just come off of a loss, the Engineers knew that getting a win against Littleton would be difficult but was needed to get the season going back in a positive direction.
The same went for the Crusaders. Entering with the exact same record, the team knew that a win was imperative.
So what would the outcome of this clash be?
In the first quarter the action was up and down the floor. Both the Crusaders and the Engineers appeared to be feeling each other out, with the attempted fast breaks and a number of probing passes and shots from each team. However, neither team was able to gain any real momentum over the other.
As time dwindled in the first quarter the Engineers were finally able to gain a slight edge as they won the quarter, 7-6.
When the second quarter began it was almost like a mirror image of the first. Both the Crusaders and the Engineers were looking for lanes to score but there was little to no room offered by either defense.
At the end of the half the score was just 9-9. The Engineers tallied only two points in the second quarter and the Crusaders had just three.
Heading into the halftime intermission the fans were buzzing about the low score. However, in most cases in a game like this the talk would be negative. But in this event the talk was how competitive the action was.
As the start of the final half neared it was anybody's guess what the two teams would do to adjust. Would there be more scoring? Would there be more of defensive focus?
The answer was found early in the third quarter when both the Crusaders and the Engineers were stuck once again looking for points.
This time around the Crusaders won the quarter and took a two-point lead of 14-12 into the final quarter of regulation.
The fourth quarter was an all out battle and by far the most exciting quarter of the game. The Engineers were searching for the equalizing basket but were unable to find the hoop before the Crusaders took a four-point lead. As time ticked away the battle raged on. The Engineers found the basket after battling for a loose ball and won the jump ball on possession.
Now only down by two, the Crusaders were searching for some insurance points. But as a ball scampered away from the hands of a Crusader player and to the open floor, players dove to get the much-needed possession. As they tussled the whistle blew and a jump ball to possession was called. However, the possession was awarded to the Engineers despite having been awarded with the call last time.
With no time to argue and more important things to worry about, play continued. On the next drive, the Engineers were able to put in the lay up and tie the game. With the clock ticking into the final moment of regulation and score tied 16-16, the teams looked for open shots but were unable to break the deadlock.
Overtime was in order.
With both teams averaging a mere four points per quarter it was hard to imagine any team running away with the win. But the Engineers came into the overtime period with a determination to score early and put the Crusaders away. At the end of the overtime period, the Engineers tallied seven more points to the Crusaders' one as the Engineers out-willed Littleton with the final score of 23-17.
Despite the low scoring affair, the game appealed to many fans as "more of an intense football game going down to the wire than a basketball game," said one fan in attendance.
Littleton head coach, Dale Prior did not seem too enthused with his team's performance.
"Our shooting was very poor at just 13 percent," he started. "The offense never truly attacked the basket. If it weren't for our defense standing tall it would have been a different game."
With the loss the Crusaders fell to 4-2 on the season. The team will have to wipe the slate clean and prepare for their next game on Friday when it travels north to Colebrook to play a gritty and physical Mohawks team.
The Engineers on the other hand advance to 5-1. The Engineers pick up their regular season action on Friday as well when they travel just a bit further north to play a struggling Canaan-Pittsburg team.
As the season enters the middle section of the season, teams will start to spread in their records and the true title contenders will start to emerge. Both the Engineers and the Crusaders are expected by many coaches in the state to be among the best teams.