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Panther hoop teams battle northern squads

by Bob Martin
Sports Reporter - Gilford Steamer, WInnisquam Echo, Meredith News

Zoe Norton goes up for a block against Lisbon last week. Corey McKean. (click for larger version)
February 21, 2018
MOULTONBOROUGH — The Moultonborough Academy girls' basketball team ended the regular season with a win over Lisbon and a loss to Littleton last week, and at deadline the Panthers were in ninth place with an 11-7 record.

On Feb. 13, the Panthers traveled to Lisbon and handed the struggling squad a 46-30 loss, although it was a closer game than the score indicated. Coach Jim Duddy explained that the team started out great offensively, with 15 first quarter points compared to Lisbon's three points. However, Lisbon took advantage of a lull of intensity and outscored the Panthers 14-12 in the second quarter to make it 27-17 at the half.

"I reminded them of our Profile game we gave away and the need to finish this game out hard," said Duddy. "Both teams found little success in the third with just four points each. Going into the fourth with a lead, we wanted to be patient on offense and give them less opportunities for a comeback. We accomplished what we wanted stretching their defense forcing them to eventually start fouling. We went 5-7 from the line in the fourth to hold them off."

Carlee Morgan was the leader for the Panthers with 19 points, including 4/4 from the line and three shots from behind the arc. Liz Eaton had another strong game with nine points and six rebounds.

"It was nice to see us finish off a team the way we did, in a game we needed," said Duddy.

On Feb. 16, the Panthers had the difficult task of facing top ranked, undefeated Littleton on senior night. It was a rematch of the first game of the season, where Duddy said the team was struggling with fundamentals due to lack of practice and still learning how to gel as a team.

"We talked before the game that emotions would be high coming of the senior night pregame ceremony, but we also could relax knowing the outcome of the game didn't change our playoff standing," said Duddy. "We got out of the gate slow with five points in the first quarter, while Littleton showed why they deserve their number one spot with superior passing and hitting almost every shot in the first half."

It was a 27-15 game at halftime and Duddy said, much like the first meeting between the teams, the shots were just not falling for the Panthers. While the Panthers played good defense in the third by holding Littleton to seven points, the offense sputtered and the team could only muster up two points. While the fourth quarter was competitive, the Panthers couldn't get out of the hole and lost 48-28.

Zoe Norton provided a spark in the final quarter with blocked shots and strong moves to the basket, on her way to an 11 point, eight rebound night. Eaton battled her way to nine points and seven boards.

"We were realistic going in, with an undefeated loaded team likely set to play for the state title in a few weeks, but the way my girls fought and played their hearts out," Duddy said. "What can you say? I love my team."

He commended the play this season of Norton, Eaton and Morgan.

"These three seniors have all fought to get to this level," Duddy said. "As sophomores, there were plenty of upperclassmen in their way. Nothing was handed to them. I feel honored to have coached their entire high school career. They each bring a special quality to our team that's not taught by any coach, it's just who they are."

The boys' basketball team had an 8-8 record and sat in 13th place at the deadline with a pair of games left to go. Last week, on Feb. 13, the Panthers lost to Lisbon 56-48.

Lisbon led 18-14 after one quarter and then 29-24 at halftime, showing it was anyone's game. After Lisbon outscored Moultonborough 9-8 in the third quarter, the game fell apart for the Panthers in the fourth quarter when Lisbon outscored Moultonborough 18-16.

Reese Swedberg scored eight points in each quarter for 32 points. He also had 13 rebounds to lead the team. Joe McClay had six points, which happened on a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. Noah Robinson had six points on the night, while Stephen Woods and Michael Tolman had two points apiece.

"Lisbon basically had one more, better possession per quarter," said coach Matt Swedberg. "To what is becoming a similar trend, we got down but never gave up, keeping close and having opportunities to climb ahead. Unlike Groveton, we were unable to ever gain the lead in this one."

On Feb. 19, the Panthers hosted Lin-Wood after deadline and then on Feb. 21 Moultonborough hosted Littleton for its final regular season game

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