MA's Jamie Mason (24) gets her hand on a rebound while I-L's Kaylee Converse also reaches for possession in the first half of the Panthers' 34-18 victory last week in Moultonborough. RC Greenwood. (click for larger version)
January 29, 2014MOULTONBOROUGH – Suffice it to say, motivation wasn't lacking for the Moultonborough Academy girls' basketball team last week.
The Panthers, mired in a slump of historic proportions against their biggest rival, shook off a loss to Inter-Lakes High School just eight days earlier to finally break through against the Lakers on Jan. 22. Host MA secured the season split thanks to a 34-18 throttling in a game the Panthers never trailed.
"It's huge for the girls," said MA coach Chris Cook, whose team fell on the road in Meredith in double overtime the previous week. "It's a big morale booster for them. They really wanted it tonight and they followed the plan."
It was a much different game than when the teams met on Jan. 14. While that game was tight throughout before the Lakers pulled away in double OT for their first win, the second contest saw MA open the game on a 9-2 run and never look back.
"We couldn't get into an offensive rhythm," explained Lakers coach Mike Gallagher. "Our defense was alright, but we just couldn't score."
MA led 11-6 after one quarter, and a 10-2 run to open the second period thanks to six points from Jamie Mason gave the Panthers a commanding 21-8 advantage.
"It got out of hand early," said Gallagher. "We played better in the second half I thought, but we were way behind in that first half. Big difference from last week."
Cook, who noted how his team trailed 7-0 after one quarter in the first meeting, was certainly pleased with the better start the second time around.
"We spotted them that (7-0) lead at their place so to jump on them early and not let off the gas was nice," the first-year head man offered.
Julia Eifert's layup and a pair of free throws from Kylie Dickinson pulled the Lakers within 23-12 at halftime, and the visitors got the first basket of the second half when Lydia Swedberg nailed a jumper to make it 23-14. But I-L scored just four points over the final 14 minutes of the game, and MA took care of business with the 34-18 victory.
"We were able to run the floor a little bit tonight," said Cook. "We got a lot of good transition opportunities."
The Lakers did hold MA to three points in the fourth quarter, as Gallagher was pleased that his small squad didn't fade down the stretch.
"I was pleased with our man defense in the second half," he said. "It's a lot to ask a team of six girls to play man in the fourth quarter."
Mason was a force throughout the night for the Panthers, as the junior forward scored a game-high 17 points to go along with five rebounds. She had 11 points in the first half.
"This was one of the better games she's had," said Cook of Mason. "She took the ball to the hoop and didn't let people take her off her spot."
Gallagher, whose team made a concerted effort to contain Mason in the first meeting, was impressed with the MA forward.
"We didn't pay attention to her as much as you'd like and she had a lot better game against us," he said. "Moultonborough did their homework and came prepared tonight."
MA's Gwen Fifield played well to lead the defensive effort, and the sophomore guard chipped in four points on the night.
"I can't say enough about her tonight," Cook said of Fifield.
Dickinson and Swedberg led the Lakers with six points apiece, as the team fell to 1-7 on the season.