Wagner's 34 points lead Eagles to semifinals
Kennett hoop girls rally from 13-point halftime deficit to upset third-seeded Souhegan
|THE KENNETT EAGLES can’t contain their excitement after besting Souhegan on Thursday, March 4. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
March 08, 2010AMHERST — If great players are at their best when the chips are down, then Kennett's Allie Wagner went all in on Thursday, March 4, and the Kennett girls' basketball team came up all aces.
The junior point guard closed to within nine of 1,000 career points with a 34-point outburst that led the Eagles back from the brink to a 50-48 win over the third-seeded Souhegan Sabers in Amherst.
Kennett trailed 32-19 at halftime, but behind 24 points from Wagner in the second half, the Eagles stormed back and picked up the win to advance to the Class I semifinals.
"I think we had it all the way," Eagle coach Peter Ames joked as his girls celebrated the win in front of a shocked flock of Sabers. "The kids have played like this all year and when we didn't play like this, we were on the other end."
"We all knew we had to pick it up," Wagner said. "Mr. Ames said, 'if you want it, you have to go get it, you have to work for it.'"
The Eagle crowd was behind the local girls the entire way, with Kennett fans seemingly easily outnumbering Souhegan fans, but the Eagle fans didn't have tons to cheer about in the first half.
Souhegan converted off the opening tip-off for a 2-0 lead, but a Melissa Frase hoop pulled the Eagles even. Souhegan hit two hoops to take a four-point lead before Frase hit a foul shot to make it 6-3. The Sabers got a three-pointer to stretch the lead to 9-3, and after a Kennett timeout, stretched the lead to 13-3 with a field goal and two free throws.
With two minutes to go, Wagner hit her first bucket of the night to make it 13-5, but the hosts got the final points of the frame and led 15-5 after one quarter.
The lead stretched to 17-5 to open the second quarter, but Wagner hit two free throws and a field goal and Lauren White and Frase each hit from the charity stripe to cut the lead to 17-11 with 4:30 to go.
However, Souhegan got a bucket and a three-point play to push the lead back to 22-11 with three and a half minutes to play in the half.
After a pair of Frase free throws, Souhegan hit two field goals to make it 26-13. Frase hit two more field goals and Wagner hit a hoop with two to go to make it 26-17.
The hosts hit two free throws with 1:37 to play and two hoops as the clock ticked under a minute, taking a 32-17 lead.
Wagner ended the half on a positive note for Kennett, taking a Frase steal in for a lay-up at the buzzer, making it 32-19 heading to halftime.
"If we make our lay-ups, it's not a 15-point game," Ames said. "I think we were trying to play faster than we could play and we were rushing around defensively.
"We were getting ourselves out of what we do," Ames continued. He noted that the Eagles had trouble on the boards in the first half and it was something they needed to work on in the second half.
The Sabers scored the first points of the second half, taking a 34-19 lead, but didn't score again in the frame until the buzzer was about to sound.
In between those hoops, it was the Allie Wagner show, as she netted 11 points in eight minutes to pull the Eagles closer.
After the opening Souhegan hoop, Wagner hit a three and then completed a three-point play with 5:27 on the clock to make it 34-25.
With 4:25 to play, Frase tried to weave her way to the basket and was tripped up cutting between a pair of Souhegan defenders. She was forced to come out of the game and trainer Andy Trowbridge worked furiously on the sidelines to get her back in playing shape.
Wagner responded by hitting another hoop to cut the lead to seven and after a big steal by Heath, the Sabers took a timeout to try and regroup.
Wagner came out with back-to-back hoops to cut the lead to 34-31 with one minute to go, but the Sabers got a long three-pointer at the buzzer to take a 37-31 lead at the end of the third.
The momentum, however, had already swung in Kennett's favor.
The Sabers opened the fourth quarter with a free throw, but Wagner got a steal and a hoop and added a free throw to cut the lead to four at 38-34 with seven minutes to play.
After another Souhegan free throw, Frase returned to the floor and the Eagles had 6:22 left to get the lead.
Wagner hit two free throws to cut the lead to 39-36 with 6:22 to play. After two Saber free throws, Frase hit a pair from the line to make it 41-38 with five minutes on the clock.
Wagner then drilled a three-pointer, tying the game at 41 with 4:30 to go, giving her 30 points for the game.
She followed that up with a free throw a minute later to give Kennett its first lead of the game with 3:30 to play, 42-41.
The Eagles went into a stall on offense, trying to keep the ball out of the Sabers' hands and it worked, as the hosts were forced to foul.
Frase hit two free throws with 1:56 to play for a 44-41 lead. After Souhegan hit a foul shot at the other end, Sam Meader hit one for the Eagles to make it a three-point game with 1:40 to play.
Frase came up with a big defensive rebound and then hit a free throw with 1:10 on the clock for a 46-42 lead. The Sabers cut the lead to two with one minute to play, but Wagner hit two free throws with 51 seconds on the clock to push the lead back to four.
After two Saber free throws brought the hosts to within one with 32 seconds, Frase hit one from the line to make it a three-point game, 49-46.
Souhegan scrambled to stay alive, hitting a bucket with two seconds left to make it 49-48, but Wagner hit a free throw in the final second to seal the come-from-behind win.
"We had to chip away, be patient and let it naturally happen," Ames said. "And Allie was just amazing."
He also praised Kasey Cavanaugh, Heath, White and Lauren Kidder for their work in controlling the boards in the second half.
"In the first half we didn't rebound," he said. "In the second half, they had one shot and they were done."
He was also impressed that his girls were able to hit the foul shots they needed to hit in the clutch moments, keeping the Sabers at bay.
"That second half was pretty good," he said with a smile on his face, knowing his team was heading to the Final Four.
Wagner scored 34 points while Frase added 14, the two guards accounting for 48 of Kennett's 50 points on the night.
The Eagles were in action after deadline Monday (see the photo on page B1 for info on the semifinal game) against Portsmouth in the Class I semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University.
If the Eagles were able to upset the second-seeded Clippers, they will play in the Class I finals on Friday, March 12, at 6 p.m., also at Southern New Hampshire University.
Check out the sports section's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfeboro-Falls-NH/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro/ for updates on the playoff games and also visit the paper's Web site at www.NewHampshireLakesandMountains.com for a recap of the semifinals.