Amanda Johnston hangs on for a jump ball call in action Dec. 17 against Berlin. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2013BRISTOL — While every other team in the Lakes Region opted out of playing on Tuesday, Dec. 17, the Newfound girls welcomed Berlin to town for a Division III tilt.
And for three quarters of the game, the Mountaineers were much like the snow falling outside. They wouldn't go away, despite the Bears' best attempts.
"It seemed every time we'd go on a run and build a lead, I'd change the lineup a bit and we'd let them back in," coach Karri Peterson said. "It takes us a few minutes to get going with a new lineup."
However, the Bears were able to pull away in the final quarter and put up a 67-46 win, their third of the season.
The Mountaineers came out of the gate in man-to-man defense, which allowed the Bears, led by senior guard Amber Plummer, to take advantage of mismatches and build an early lead.
However, when the visitors switched to a zone defense, the Newfound offense stalled a bit.
"We weren't letting anything develop," Peterson stated.
After Plummer opened the scoring with a three-pointer, Berlin answered right back, tying the game at three. However, those were the only points the Mountaineers would score until the final 30 seconds of the quarter.
Newfound went on a 10-0 run, with Plummer putting in six of those points on three field goals and Brittany McArthur putting in the other four points on a pair of field goals, giving the Bears a 13-3 lead.
The Mountaineers were able to hit two hoops in the final 25 seconds of the quarter, cutting the lead to 13-7 after eight minutes.
Berlin cut the lead to 13-9 to open the second quarter, but a hoop from Amanda Johnston got Newfound back on the board. Karissa Bony chimed in with a three-pointer to up the lead to 18-9, but the Mountaineers hit a long one of their own to cut the lead back to six.
The Bears then went on another run, this time putting in eight points in a row on hoops from Bridget Lavin, Plummer and Bony and two free throws from McArthur, upping the lead to 26-12. The Mountaineers converted a three-point play, but Bony finished off her own steal for a 28-15 lead.
After the Mountaineers got back on the board, Plummer drained a three and Bony hit a free throw, upping the lead to 32-18. Berlin didn't go down without a fight, as the Mountaineers hit a hoop and then drilled a three at the buzzer, cutting the lead to 32-23 at halftime.
The visitors hit the first bucket of the second half, but the teams went back and forth from there. McArthur hit a pair of hoops and Plummer hit two from the free throw line and a field goal, pushing the lead to 40-30. After a Berlin hoop, Allie Symonds and Bony hit back-to-back threes to up the lead to 46-32. However, Berlin got the final four points of the quarter and cut the lead to 46-36 after three quarters of play.
The Mountaineers hit the first hoop of the fourth quarter in front of a Bony three. They then hit another hoop to cut the lead to nine with 6:52 to go.
That, however, was as close as the visitors got. Newfound outscored Berlin 18-6 the rest of the way for the 67-46 win. Plummer hit two threes, a field goal and a free throw in that stretch, while Bony had a three and McArthur, Kayla Messersmith and Shelby Nostrand all had baskets.
Peterson noted that communication was part of the problem, allowing the Mountaineers to jump back into the game on numerous occasions, just as it seemed the Bears were ready to seal the deal.
"When you sub in, you have to tell each other, communicate with each other," she said. "Communication can go a long way."
She noted that the Mountaineers' propensity for battling back gave her second thoughts about taking Plummer out of the game.
"That's why it took me so long to get Amber out of the game," Peterson said. "I wasn't taking her out until I knew we were all set."
Plummer finished with 27 points to lead the way for Newfound. Bony finished with 17 and McArthur added 12.
Due to early holiday deadlines, the Bears' second game of the week, at Franklin on Friday, Dec. 20, was played past deadline. Look for a recap of that game in next week's edition.
The Bears will once again participate in the Lakes Region Holiday Hoop Tournament in Gilford. Action gets under way on Dec. 27 and continues through Dec. 30.
The Bears drew Winnisquam in the first round and will open the tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, at 12:30 p.m. If they win that game, they play Saturday, Dec. 28, at 4 p.m. and if they lose the opener, they play Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The second game will be against either Prospect Mountain or Belmont.
The Bears return to regular season action on Friday, Jan. 3, at Mascoma.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com.