Junior Chayleigh Cadarette pulls down one of her 14 rebounds in front of Gilford's Kayla Orton during the second quarter of Belmont's 57-46 loss on Jan. 24. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 29, 2014BELMONT – Thanks to a 15-0 run early in the game, the Gilford High School girls' basketball team was able to put some distance between host Belmont High School and hold on, as the Golden Eagles picked up a solid road win with a 57-46 defeat of the Red Raiders in Division III action on Jan. 24.
"It's a big win for us," said GHS coach Rick Forge, whose team fell to Franklin earlier in the week. "Any time you can come into Belmont and win, it's a good thing."
Despite trailing by double digits for the majority of the second half, the Raiders never let Gilford breathe easily down the stretch.
"The effort was good," offered Belmont coach Mark Dawalga. "Other than the first quarter I thought we played pretty even with them. But I'm very please. From where we were last year at this time to this year, we've improved a lot. I'm proud of the girls, they work hard."
Belmont led 6-3 early in the first quarter thanks to six points from junior forward Chayleigh Cadarette. But the Eagles responded with a huge 15-0 run, kickstarted by a Shannon Mercer jumper from the corner. Jordan Dean scored five points during the spree while Maddie Harris added four, and Gilford carried the run into the second quarter to take an 18-6 advantage with 5:45 left.
"We handled their pressure well enough to establish a lead and maintain it," said Forge. "And I thought our pressure was just effective enough to keep them out of their rhythm."
Rhythm was indeed hard to come by for either team, and it was a game plagued by a high number of fouls on both sides. Despite shooting just 14 of 30 from the free throw line, the Eagles still managed to grab the win.
"We just had to keep working through it," Dawalga said. "There's not much else you can do in that situation."
Belmont responded from the Gilford run thanks to a Makayla Donovan steal and hoop, and Cassie Contigiani followed with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 18-11. Cadarette put home a layup with just 11 seconds left before halftime to make it a 24-18 deficit, but Gilford point guard Cassidy Bartlett hit a runner at the buzzer to push the lead at the break to 26-18.
"We shot the ball much better tonight than against Franklin," said Forge. "It was nice to see the girls rebound well from that game."
The second half saw Gilford hold a lead throughout, though neither team was able to make headway. The Eagles were unable to stretch the lead well into double digits and ice things, while Belmont was unable to hit a big hoop to draw the Raiders within striking distance.
"Their second and third opportunities were tough for us to overcome," said Dawalga of Gilford's rebounding edge. "We have to do a better job of rebounding. To Gilford's credit, they were in the right places to make plays when they needed a big hoop."
The Eagles led 44-30 entering the fourth quarter, but free throws from Shannon Davies and a three-point play from Contigiani cut the deficit to 44-35. While Gilford struggled from the free throw line all night, the squad made just enough freebies late to hold on for the win. Mariah Nelson came off the bench to sink a pair in the waning seconds and account for the 57-46 final.
"We missed a couple of layups that could've cut it to six or four points so we just couldn't quite come all the way back after that first quarter," Dawalga said.
Dean led the Eagles with 16 points and 12 rebounds on the night, while Harris had 13 points and nine boards. Bartlett was also in double figures with 10 points and five steals. Kelsey Buckley notched seven points while Mercer had five points and five steals.
"I thought Jordan Dean had a very nice game," lauded Forge. "The Cadarette girl played very well for Belmont though. She's a quality player and she did a nice job for them."
Cadarette led all scorers with 18 points, and she grabbed 14 rebounds for yet another double-double. Contigiani chipped in 13 points on the night while Davies (five points) and Donovan (four points) were other offensive contributors.
The loss came three days after a tough one against powerhouse Newfound, as the Raiders dropped a 66-30 decision in a game they trailed throughout.
Cadarette had eight points and 12 rebounds for Belmont, while Jackelyn Robarge and Davies each added eight points. Newfound led 40-17 at halftime.
"Just one of those nights, give Newfound all the credit," said Dawalga. "They beat us to every loose ball and had more energy than us tonight."
Belmont entered this week's slate of games with a 4-6 record in Division III action.