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Strong second half leads Bears by Belmont

Newfound girls earn trip to Final Four

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

Karissa Bony drives to the hoop for two of her 16 points in playoff action on Feb. 27. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 02, 2014
BRISTOL — Newfound girls' hoop coach Karri Peterson was well aware that the Belmont girls would attempt to slow down the pace of their playoff game on Thursday, Feb. 27.

And they did just that. And though it took a little while, the Newfound girls were able to overcome the Belmont pace and got into the swing of their own game, taking a 47-32 win.

"The key to it was for us to play an up-tempo game," Peterson said. "If we got into their methodical pace, it was going to hurt us."

Sure enough, the Raiders came out and did their best to slow the Bears down and it worked, as Newfound managed just 19 points in the first half, one of their lowest outputs for a half of basketball this season.

"We knew that would be an issue for us," Peterson said. "I thought when we got out early, I thought he (Belmont coach Mark Dawalga) couldn't continue to play that way, but he did."

The Bears scored eight of the game's first 10 points, as Karissa Bony and Amber Plummer each hit threes and Brittany McArthur hit for two for an 8-2 Newfound lead.

After consecutive threes from the Raiders tied the game, a Bridget Lavin hoop gave Newfound a 10-8 lead after one quarter of play.

The Bears came out and scored the first six points of the second quarter, as Bony finished a reverse layup and Lavin and Kayla Messersmith each hit buckets to put the Bears up 16-8 before Belmont got on the board.

Messersmith went coast-to-coast for another Newfound hoop and an 18-10 lead, but Belmont hit a three and two free throws to cut the lead to three. After Messersmith hit a free throw, Belmont hit another bucket to cut the lead to 19-17 at the halftime break.

"At the half, I told them, you have to start making the press work," Peterson said. "We are going to have to do our trapping the entire court, no matter what.

"It's hard spending 10 seconds on offense and then back for more than a minute on defense," Peterson said.

The Bears responded out of the gate in the second half, with McArthur hitting a hoop and Bony drilling a three-pointer to get things rolling. Bony finished off her own steal for a 26-17 lead before the Raiders finally got on the board, cutting the lead to 26-20.

However, an Allie Symonds three-pointer and hoops from Plummer and McArthur allowed the Bears to finish the quarter with a 33-23 lead.

Plummer stretched that lead by two to open the fourth quarter, but Belmont responded with two hoops to cut the lead to eight.

However, that's as close as they would get, as Bony hit a hoop, McArthur put back a rebound, Plummer hit a hoop and McArthur hit another hoop, stretching the lead to 43-27.

After the Raiders got back on the board, Bony hit two more free throws and she finished out the scoring with two more from the line, as the Bears closed out the 47-32 win, advancing on to the Division III quarterfinals vs. Franklin on Saturday.

"It hurt that we hadn't played a game in more than a week," Peterson said of her team's seemingly sluggish first half. "But we have to run because I wouldn't say we shot a high percentage.

"The more shots we take, the more likely we're going to put points on the board," she continued. "To be at 19 at the half is a little lower than we'd have liked."

Bony finished with 16 points to lead the way for the Bears, while McArthur also reached double figures, hitting for 10.

The Bears advanced to the Final Four with a 66-37 win over Franklin on Saturday, March 1. The Bears were matched up with fourth-seeded Fall Mountain in the semifinals after deadline on Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University. The tournament finals are Saturday, March 8, at 4 p.m., also at SNHU.

NRHS 10-9-14-14

BHS 8-9-6-9

Newfound 47

Symonds 1-0-3, Bony 5-4-16, Messersmith 2-1-5, Plummer 4-0-9, Lavin 2-0-4, McArthur 5-0-10: Totals 19-5-47

Belmont 32

Contigiani 2-3-8, Donovan 1-1-4, Cadarette 5-2-13, Clairmont 1-0-3, Davies 2-0-4: Totals 10-6- 32

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

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