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Defense leads Bears to opening win

Newfound girls hold Laconia to 10 points in second half

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

Brittany McArthur goes hard to the hoop in action against Laconia on Friday night. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2013
BRISTOL — The first half of the opening game of the season for the Newfound girls' basketball team was kind of a typical first game, as both the Bears and Laconia struggled offensively and went to the break tied at 16.

The second half was a different story, as the Bears turned on the defensive pressure and turned a 20-16 early third quarter deficit into a 43-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

That 27-point run between the third and fourth quarters was the difference, as the Bears pulled away and walked off with a 50-26 win to kick off the season.

Coach Karri Peterson went to the diamond (press) early in the third quarter when Laconia's point guard came out of the game with four fouls.

"As soon as Cali (Swormstedt) picked up her fourth foul, we went to the diamond," Peterson said. "I've got a group that can press hard full-court."

Though both teams struggled to find their footing early, it was the Bears who got out quickly, scoring the first six points of the game off the hands of four different players. However, the visitors scored the next six points to tie the game at six with 43 seconds to go in the first.

However, Karissa Bony beat the buzzer with a layup on a feed from Kayla Messersmith to give the Bears an 8-6 lead at the end of one.

The two teams went back and forth in the second quarter, with the Sachems taking a 12-9 lead and a 13-10 lead, but back-to-back hoops from Amber Plummer and Messersmith gave the Bears the lead back at 14-13 and Plummer sank two free throws to make it 16-13. Laconia hit the final three points of the quarter to send the game to the half with the teams tied at 16.

The Sachems scored the first four points of the third quarter to go up 20-16, but the Bears turned on the pressure, forcing a number of quick turnovers, allowing the Bears to get quick baskets. Plummer had three hoops and a free throw, Bridget Lavin turned two steals into baskets, Brittany McArthur hit a pair from the stripe and Bony hit a hoop and then drained a three at the buzzer to make it a 34-20 lead for Newfound after three.

The Bears came out in the fourth quarter and continued the run, with McArthur hitting a hoop to start. Bony hit two from the line, Lavin finished off a Plummer steal and Bony drilled a three to make it 43-20. The Sachems scored with 5:35 to go, the first basket for the visitors since 6:20 was left in the third quarter.

However, Lavin hit a hoop and McArthur hit from the line to stretch the lead to 47-22 and the Bears rolled on to the 50-26 victory.

"Sixteen at the half, I was happy with the defense," Peterson said. " I thought we boxed out and rebounded well."

However, it did take a bit for the shots to start to fall.

"Once someone started hitting their shots, they started going for others," Peterson said.

"Our offense always looks amazing in practice," the Bear coach said with a smile. "But they (Laconia) play tough man-to-man defense."

The Bears will continue the season with a home game against Berlin on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com.

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