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Knight girls grab win in holiday tournament


After opening loss, Roy's impressive fourth quarter leads team to consolation round win



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AS COACH GRADY CHARLAND watches from the sidelines, Erin Deely tries to dribble past a Newfound defender during holiday tournament action Dec. 28 in Gilford. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 04, 2010
GILFORD — One positive thing the Kingswood girls could take from their appearance in the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament last week was the fact that they came out of Gilford High School with their first win of the season.

However, things started a little tough in the tournament, as the girls dropped a 49-35 decision to Newfound in the tournament's very first game on Monday, Dec. 28.

The Knights and Bears faced off at 9:30 a.m. and Kingswood sophomore Morgan Ekstrom netted the tournament's first points, giving Kingswood a 2-0 lead. The Knights would never lead again, though they did come back to tie the game at one point.

The Bears followed Ekstom's opening hoop with a 10-point run to pull ahead 10-2 before Alyssa Nelson and Nikki Matarozzo hit back-to-back hoops to pull Kingswood to within four at 10-6. However, a Newfound free throw closed out the first quarter scoring and the Knights trailed 11-6 after eight minutes of play.

Brittany Roy finished a pair of nice passes from Megen Pollini and Erin Deely to pull Kingswood to within three points and a bucket from Pollini cut the gap to one.

Deely then sank a free throw with 6:35 to play in the second quarter, pulling Kingswood even at 11-11. Newfound followed with two hoops to take a 15-11 lead, but Ekstrom hit her second hoop of the night to make it a two-point game at 15-13.

The Bears then went on a tear to close out the first half, scoring 10 points in a row and opening up a 25-13 lead heading to the break.

Deely accounted for the first four points of the second half, hitting a free throw and a three-pointer to cut the lead to 25-17, but two hoops and a foul shot from the Bears pushed the lead to 30-17. Ari Lehner hit a bucket to make it 30-19, but the Newfound girls netted seven points in a row to stretch the lead to 37-19.

Pollini hit the final hoop of the quarter to make it 37-21 after 24 minutes.

Every time the Knights scored in the fourth quarter, the Bears seemed to have an answer. Ekstrom opened the frame with a free throw and Newfound got a field goal. Leah Kenison sunk a hoop and the Bears got a free throw, then answered another Ekstrom hoop.

Pollini sunk a free throw and Deely hit two, but Newfound added a field goal. Deely then sunk a three-pointer and Pollini got a rebound and a hoop to cut the lead to 10 at 44-34. Deely answered a Bear free throw with one of her own, but the Newfound girls were solid from the line down the stretch and hit four free throws to stretch out to the 49-35 final.

"It was tough to get out of the hole," Charland said. "Though coming off the Hollis-Brookline game, I'll take today."

He stressed that the improvements he envisions for the girls' hoop team at Kingswood are not going to happen magically and it is going to take some hard work.

"It's not going to happen overnight," he said. "We'll take the small steps. We've got to stay positive and move forward."

He noted that one of the team's strengths will be its bench and he hopes that as the season goes on, the girls can exploit that advantage.

For the Newfound game, he praised Pollini for her solid all-around effort.

"She had her hands on everything," Charland noted.

He also pointed out that one of the biggest problems the Knights faced against Newfound was missing shots, something he hopes will come with more experience.

"We're missing a lot of shots in the paint," he said. "That comes with experience."

For the game, Deely led the way with 11 points and Pollini and Ekstrom each added seven.

The Knights were able to add their first win of the season a day later when they faced off with Moultonborough in the consolation round of the tournament. Though the Knights trailed early, they rode the hot hand of Roy through the fourth quarter on their way to a 49-47 win over the Panthers.

Deely was the hot shooter in the first half, as she netted 12 points in the first 16 minutes, including a three-pointer in the opening quarter that helped keep the Knights within shooting distance at 11-10 after one quarter.

The Panthers were able to stretch that lead a bit in the second quarter, upping the halftime advantage to 27-22 and actually extended the lead to 36-30 after three quarters of play.

However, in the fourth quarter, Roy turned it on and netted 13 of her game-high 25 points in the final frame as the Knights caught the Panthers and grabbed the two-point victory.

In addition to Roy's 25, Deely added 14 to the scoresheet for the Knights' first win of the 2009-2010 season.

Roy was also named to the All-Tournament second team for her performance.

Pre-break

The Knights finished up a tough stretch of games to open the regular season with a 60-25 loss to St. Thomas on Dec. 21 and a 60-17 loss to Hollis-Brookline on Dec. 23.

"St. Thomas was a lot like Coe-Brown, but their guards were even faster and they applied a lot of pressure," Charland noted. "There was a lot of panic and a lot of bad passes, which we have to work on in practice."

However, he noted that the Saints are certainly a top-four team in Class I and playing in their gym is never easy. He hopes the team took the game as a learning experience.

"It was another learning experience in a tough environment," he said. "I was very impressed with their defense, it was very suffocating."

The Knight coach also praised Ekstrom for a great game, including an impressive pick on a girl who was probably twice the size of the Knights' sophomore point guard.

"I love their heart," Charland said of his team's refusal to lay down and give in.

Nelson and Lehner each had six points in the loss.

The game with Hollis-Brookline was an experience that the Knight coach said there was really nothing positive to take from the contest.

"That was a huge disappointment," he said. "They had more of a laid-back pressure and we just killed ourselves and made mistakes."

The Cavaliers opened the game by scoring the first 15 points and would've shut the Knights out in the first quarter if not for a Deely shot at the buzzer.

"It was just a disaster of a night," Charland noted. "There was nothing we could pull from that game."

In the loss, Roy scored seven points and had seven rebounds to lead the Knights.

Kingswood will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 8, when the girls will welcome Portsmouth to town for a 6:30 p.m. contest. The girls head to Bishop Brady on Saturday, Jan. 9, for a 3:30 p.m. game and will be on the road at Oyster River on Tuesday, Jan. 12, for a 6:30 p.m. game.

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