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Turnovers plague Bears in loss to Gilford

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Winnisquam's Madison Langan holds possession after hauling in a rebound during the Bears' 40-32 loss to Gilford last week. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2014
GILFORD It's not often a team shoots 23 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the free throw line and somehow manages to pull out a victory. But thanks to a pressing defense that forced 28 turnovers, the Gilford High School girls' basketball team earned a Lakes Region win over Winnisquam Regional High School, 40-32, in Division III action last week.

"I think the key tonight was that our press caused just enough havoc to take Winnisquam out of their comfort zone," said Gilford coach Rick Forge. "We got a lot of turnovers off of our press and our defense overall I thought played really well."

It was a disappointing loss for the Bears, as the 28 turnovers did not allow them to get into their normal offensive sets.

"We had so many unforced turnovers but give Gilford credit, they certainly executed better than we did," said Winnisquam coach Amy Dutton. "We just never got into our rhythm offensively and we didn't get enough fast break points. We have to rely on those points to get ourselves going."

Sophomore point guard Cassidy Bartlett led the Golden Eagles with a game-high 13 points, and she added five steals and five assists while doing the bulk of her scoring from the free throw line (nine freebies).

"Finishing has been a problem the last couple of games," said Forge, pointing to his team's 12 for 53 shooting on the night. "But we made up for it on the other end of the floor."

Winnisquam struggled during the early going, with Dutton pointing out that the Bears committed more turnovers than attempted shots in the first half. But somehow, the visitors held a 16-15 lead at intermission.

But the Eagles stormed out of the halftime break, jumping out to a 13-2 run with hoops from Jordan Dean, Maddie Harris, Shannon Mercer and Kelsey Buckley keying the spree. Gilford led 28-18 and appeared as though they would run away.

But the Bears clawed back thanks to senior point guard Rachel Willcutt, who scored five straight points, and a Hannah Chapin jumper pulled the visitors within 29-26 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

"Rachel Willcutt put that nice spurt together and helped us get back into the game," Dutton lauded.

But every time Winnisquam cut into the deficit, Gilford had an answer. Kayla Orton put in a bucket early in the fourth, and Winnisquam never got closer than six points the rest of the way en route to the 40-32 final.

"Overall it's a good win against a solid, well-coached team," said Forge. "Any time you can beat a rival like Winnisquam, it's a good win."

Mercer (nine points), Harris (seven points, six rebounds) and Orton (five points, six rebounds, six steals) all played well for Gilford, while Dean and Buckley each pulled down a team-high seven boards.

Chapin paced the Bears with eight points on the night to go with seven rebounds, while Willcutt (seven points), Madison Langan (six points), Kaylee Howard (four points, three steals) and Kendra Lonergan (four points, three steals) all chipped in offensively.

"It comes down to our half court offense and we didn't get into it enough," admitted Dutton.

NOTES: Mercer scored Gilford's first six points of the game, all on jump shots... The Eagles were just five for 15 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter but still managed to hold on... Winnisquam used a 9-4 run in the first and second quarters to take a 16-13 lead, with Howard drilling a three in the process... Forge on Winnisquam: "We know they have two big scorers in Chapin and Howard, and we knew we had to keep them under control. That was the key."... Gilford scored more points in the third quarter (18) than it did in the entire first half (15)... Winnisquam was playing its first regular season game since a 51-37 win over Bow on Dec. 23 a span of 16 days. Said Dutton: "We're not a team that can afford to take a few days off. We need the time to work on some things."

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