Raiders end T-Wolves' season
Hoop girls knocked out of the playoffs by Belmont in first round
|KELSEY HOPPER puts up a shot in the face of Belmont defenders during tournament action Feb. 22. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
March 01, 2010ALTON — It wasn't the ending the Prospect Mountain basketball girls had imagined for their first foray into postseason basketball.
But, when the clock ran out on the Timber Wolves' first round game against Belmont on Monday, Feb. 22, the more experienced Red Raiders had secured a trip to the quarterfinals with a 32-26 win on the Timber Wolves' home court.
"I give Belmont credit, they played well," said Prospect coach Jeri Blair, who served as Belmont's coach for 28 years before moving to Prospect this season. "They didn't give us a good look to get the ball inside."
When the two teams met back in early February, Prospect's Kelsey Hopper was the force that led them to the win and the Red Raiders had that in mind when they stepped onto the court in Alton for the first-round playoff game.
"Every pass we had into the kids (inside) was at a bad angle, so they couldn't just turn and put it up," Blair noted.
Sydney Robertson got the Timber Wolves on the board first, putting back a rebound for a 2-0 lead. The Red Raiders didn't score until two minutes were off the clock, at which point they hit a three-pointer to take a 3-2 lead.
Sahara Brown hit a hoop with 3:20 to play to make it 4-3 and the Raiders ended the first quarter scoring with a bucket for a 5-4 lead. Robertson kept the lead at one point with her first block of the night in the closing minute of the frame.
A free throw from Brown tied the game opening up the second quarter, but a Belmont hoop more than two minutes in pushed them ahead by two. Michelle Lizotte connected for two to tie the game at seven and another Robertson block kept the Raiders off the board.
Belmont got a pair of free throws to take a 9-7 lead, but Brown hit one from the line to cut the lead to just one point.
However, the visitors scored two hoops in the final two minutes of play to take a 13-8 lead to the break. Robertson again helped to keep the lead at five with yet another block in the final minute of the half.
Hopper came out and scored the first points of the second half to cut the lead to 13-10. Robertson recorded two more blocks before Hopper netted another bucket with 6:20 left in the third quarter to make it 13-12.
Another Robertson block brought the Timber Wolf fans to their feet, but a three-pointer from the Raiders pushed the lead to four points and a three-point play made it 19-12 in favor of the visitors.
Hopper hit a pair of free throws and Lizotte followed with a three-pointer to cut the gap to 19-17 with just four minutes to play in the third quarter, but two hoops in a row from the Raiders upped the lead to 23-17.
Brown hit a hoop with 2:30 to play to bring Prospect back within four, but the Red Raiders answered a minute and 20 seconds later and with 30 seconds left on the clock hit another hoop for a 27-19 lead.
Hopper hit a field goal with 10 seconds on the clock to cut the lead to 27-21 heading to the final quarter of play.
Hopper finished off a nice pass from Brown to start the fourth quarter scoring, but the Raiders answered right back, keeping it a six-point game at 29-23.
A three-pointer from Rachel Roberge cut the lead to just three, but the Raiders went into a stall offense to try and keep the Timber Wolves from rallying back.
A Robertson block got the hosts the ball back, but a couple of turnovers killed the Timber Wolves, as Belmont got the ball back and continued to stall the pace.
Brown and Lizotte teamed up for a big steal, but a missed layup with 40 seconds to go put a fork in the Timber Wolves' chances. The Raiders hit a free throw for a 30-26 lead with 34 seconds left and hit two more with 13 seconds left to claim the 32-26 win.
Blair said that the difference in the six versus 11 match-up may have been a case of nerves.
"They had at least played tournament basketball," the Timber Wolf coach said of Belmont. "These girls, it was the first time they'd been in the tournament so they were a little nerved up."
He noted that he was certainly pleased with the defensive effort, allowing only 32 points, but the offense was a bit lacking.
"If you can't win a game only giving up 32 points, something's wrong somewhere," he noted. "But the last few games, we've struggled on offense."
The Timber Wolves finished the season with a loss to Somersworth in which they scored 28 points and a win over Epping in which they scored 26.
Blair was quick to point out, however, that he was pleased at what the Timber Wolves had accomplished in his first year at the helm.
"I told them, don't forget what you've accomplished here," he said. "We won 11 games in a row at one point.
"They gave me more than I could ever thought about, and we'll be back next year," he continued. "We've got the program going in the right direction."
For the game, Hopper finished with 10 points and Brown added six. Robertson chipped in with seven blocks. The girls finished the regular season at 14-4 after dropping the first two games of the season.