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Balanced Raiders enter break with big win


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Belmont freshman Shannon Davies looks to get a shot off with a Berlin defender in tow during the Raiders' 50-32 victory on Dec. 20. Davies had seven points and 10 rebounds in the win. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 26, 2013
BELMONT After two straight last-minute losses, the Belmont High School girls' basketball team was in desperate need of a convincing victory.

That's exactly what the Red Raiders got on Dec. 20, as the hosts committed a season-low four turnovers, entering the Holiday Break in prime fashion with a 50-32 win over Berlin High School in Division III action.

"We've grown a lot," said BHS second-year coach Mark Dawalga, whose team lost to Somersworth in overtime and Franklin by three points in their two games leading up to the win. "Berlin's tough. They've got three kids who are players, especially (Jill Williams). She's definitely a player and we keyed on her as best we could."

Belmont (2-2 entering the break) used a 13-3 run to open the second quarter to create some separation, as Shannon Davies, Cassie Contigiani, Makayla Donovan and Mary Kate Russo all figured into the scoring to give the Raiders a 31-18 lead at halftime when Russo sank a putback with just one second remaining.

"We executed our game plan," said Dawalga. "Berlin had a long ride to get here and I thought we had a little more depth and that made the difference."

Back-to-back hoops from Chayleigh Cadarette and Nicole Antonucci to open the third quarter extended the lead to 35-18, and the Raiders held Berlin (2-3 overall) to just 14 points in the second half to run away with the 50-32 win.

"We played everyone tonight, everyone contributed," Dawalga said. "We had kids stepping up. We're starting two freshmen (Davies, Antonucci) and they'll only continue to get better. We've been in every game so far and it's just more and more experience for them. They've been even-keeled no matter the situation so it's been nice to see that."

Contigiani led all scorers with 17 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists, while Davies finished with seven points (all in the first half) and 10 rebounds. Cadarette just missed a double-double with eight points and nine boards while Russo (eight points) and Donovan (three steals) also chipped in nicely.

Belmont scored the first seven points on the game to set the tone, as Davies put in a layup, Antonucci sank a runner in the lane and Contigiani dropped in a 3-ball for a 7-0 lead with just 1:29 gone in the opening frame.

The Raiders finished with three threes on the night, as Russo and Jackelyn Robarge also joined in the scoring from downtown. Zoe Zeller played solid defense off the bench in the win, while Megan Prescott capped off the scoring with a layup in the waning seconds.

Belmont is off until Tuesday night, when the Raiders tangle with Lakes Region foe Prospect Mountain at 6 p.m.

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