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Lady Crusaders impress in 2014

James Barrett
Maggie Hadlock was the anchor for the Crusader offense all season long. (click for larger version)
March 24, 2014
LITTLETON — Without a doubt, the Littleton Crusaders girls' basketball team continued its successful tradition this past season. With few setbacks and leadership that was second to none, the Crusaders made another deep run into the playoffs.

Unfortunately they came up just a bit short as they were ousted from the playoffs in the semifinal round by Hinsdale.

When the season was in its early stages, Crusader head coach Dale Prior was "cautiously optimistic" of his team's chances in the season. Prior was confident in his senior leadership but it was "filling in the gaps" that worried the tenured Littleton coach.

Right from the get go the Crusaders were impressing. Obviously a level above most teams in the league, the Crusaders went on an impressive streak.

The Crusaders' winning ways led to the team hovering around first place for the majority of the season. Unfortunately the Crusaders hit a bit of a rough patch halfway through the season a dropped a few games. As a result, the Crusaders fell a bit in the standings.

Despite the fall in the standings, the Crusades were able to get back on course and continue on to a fifth place finish in the regular season. With the outstanding performance of players like Maggie Hadlock, Bianca Verret, Nealy Mason and Emma Bogardus, who were simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Crusader production, the Crusaders were looking strong heading into the playoffs.

In the first round of the playoffs the Crusaders earned the privilege of hosting the Lisbon Panthers. In a rivalry game for the ages, the Panthers gave the Crusaders a run for their money. However in the end, the Crusader offense was bit too potent for the young Panthers to handle in the later stages as the Crusaders came away with a 33-24 win.

In the second round the Crusaders were looking to earn a trip to Plymouth State University to participate in the semifinals. In order to get there the Crusaders would have to go through the Woodsville Engineers in the cramped confines of the Woodsville Community Building Gymnasium.

With no a single empty seat or standing space left, the Engineers and the Crusaders played in an epic battle of northern powerhouses. The two teams struggled to run away with the game. In fact, there was no clear-cut winner until Littleton's Bianca Verret made the shot of her career with two seconds to go. Verret drove baseline and put up a highly contested lay-up that found its way into the basket. The Crusaders went on to win 40-38.

It was not until the semifinals against Hinsdale that the Crusaders' hopes at a championship were dashed. The Crusaders fought hard but were unable to slow Hinsdale down. In the loss there was a very bright spot for the Crusaders. Freshman Bogardus shut down Hinsdale's senior center, Bridget Bourne for three quarters. Both hovering right around the six-foot height, Verret showed an uncanny ability to play up to competition and defend one of the best players in the state. As a result, it is safe to say that Bogardus will be a key player in her next three years with the Crusaders.

All in all, head coach Prior was "pleased" with his team's performance this season. Despite a rough patch the Crusaders were able to get another trip to Plymouth and continue a winning tradition in Littleton.

Needless to say, the future of Littleton Crusaders girls' basketball is still very bright.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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