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Knights put up a fight against Eagles

Kingswood hoop girls can't survive late rally by defending champs

KINGSWOOD’S Brittany Roy puts the defensive pressure on Kennett’s Rachel Miller during action Dec. 14 in Wolfeboro. Kathy Sutherland. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2010
WOLFEBORO — In the end, the first game of the basketball season for the Kennett and Kingswood girls came down to experience in tight situations.

And in that facet of the game, the Kennett Eagles had the advantage and were able to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit to defeat their county rivals 56-48 in Wolfeboro on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Kennett coach Peter Ames credited the switch to a man-to-man defense as the thing that turned the switch in the Eagles' favor in the second half.

"When it got to 12 points and we were stagnant, I wanted to do something to change it up," the veteran coach said. "I was really hesitant to do it because we don't have the depth at some positions and didn't want to get into foul trouble."

"That was a great move by Peter," said Kingswood coach Grady Charland. "At halftime I told the girls to expect the change. The man-to-man was huge."

The beginning of the night was a bit of a mixed bag for both teams, but by the end of the first half, Kingswood was clearly in control.

Kennett opened the game with the first five points of the night. Allie Wagner hit two free throws and a hoop and Jessie Wagner hit a free throw to stake Kennett to a 5-0 lead out of the gate. Kingswood point guard Morgan Ekstrom was also forced to the bench quickly with two fouls and the Knights had to change the lineup a bit.

Ari Lehner got Kingswood's first points of the night, but Allie Wagner answered with a three-pointer to make it an 8-2 game. Brittany Roy converted a three-point play for the Knights to cut the lead to 8-5, but the Wagner sisters hit seven points in a row, with Jessie hitting two hoops and Allie draining a three-pointer to make it a 15-5 game.

The Knights then closed out the first quarter with 12 points in a row.

Roy made a nice move to the hoop for two points and Nicole Matarozzo hit two three-pointers in a row, the second coming with two minutes to go, cutting the lead to 15-13.

Aerielle Glazier then tied the game with a bucket with 1:40 to play in the quarter and with 1:05 to play, Erica Nelson put a hoop in for the 17-15 Kingswood lead, which stood at the end of the quarter.

Alyssa Nelson pushed the lead to 19-15 for Kingswood with the first bucket of the second quarter, but Lauren White answered with a pair from the charity stripe for the Eagles. A Roy rebound and hoop and an Alyssa Nelson rebound and hoop made it 23-17 in favor of the Knights and Ames called a timeout with 6:44 to go in the half.

Allie Wagner came out of the timeout and hit three free throws to cut the lead to 23-20, but a pair of free throws from Megen Pollini and a bucket from Matarozzo made it 27-20 with four minutes to play in the half.

Allie Wagner hit three more free throws to cut the lead to four, but Alyssa Nelson got a rebound and a hoop, Roy got a big block then hit a free throw, giving the Knights a 30-23 lead. After a Lauren Kidder free throw cut Kennett's deficit to 30-24, Glazier hit a hoop then buried a three-pointer for a 35-24 lead. Ekstrom hit a free throw to give Kingswood a 36-24 lead with half the game in the books.

Jessie Wagner sank a free throw to open the second half, but Lehner followed with a hoop to up the lead to 38-25. After three blocks for the Knights (one for Roy, two for Pollini), Allie Wagner and Sam Meader hit back-to-back buckets for the Eagles to cut the lead to 38-29.

Glazier netted another hoop for Kingswood, but Jordan Murphy hit a bucket and then drained a free throw after her own steal, making it an eight-point game at 40-32.

Matarozzo stretched the lead to 10 with another hoop, but Allie Wagner hit three free throws to bring it back to seven points and Meader finished off a steal by the Eagle point guard with a hoop to make it 42-37 after three quarters.

Jessie Wagner finished off a nice pass from her sister to cut the lead to three opening the fourth quarter. Matarozzo fouled out and Allie Wagner hit both free throws to make it a one-point game and Meader drained a bucket six seconds later to give Kennett a 43-42 lead with 6:47 to play.

Pollini gave the Knights the lead back with a hoop, but Allie Wagner drained a three-pointer to make it 46-44. The Knights also lost Ekstrom to fouls, forcing Charland to go deeper on the bench.

Roy hit two foul shots to tie the game at 46, but Murphy hit a pair from the line and Allie Wagner hit one, giving Kennett a 49-46 lead. Meader also hit a free throw with 3:39 to play, making it 50-46.

However, Allie Wagner fouled out with 3:28 to play, leaving the Eagles without their top playmaker.

Glazier hit a free throw to cut the lead to three with 2:12 to play, but Kidder answered with two free throws to push the lead to five with 1:19 to go.

Lehner hit one from the line and Kidder answered. Rachel Miller also hit one from the stripe for the Eagles to make it 54-48 with under 30 seconds. Jessie Wagner put in one last hoop to close out the 56-48 win.

Ames noted he had the luxury of having Murphy coming off the bench with some quickness, which allowed Meader and Allie Wagner to get good matchups in the man-to-man defense in the second half.

"That forced them to get a little out of their comfort zones," Ames said. "Then some kids stepped up and made some foul shots."

He praised Meader for her solid play, which included work at four different positions on the night.

"Sam's kind of a jack-of-all-trades," Ames said. "Tonight she played four of the positions. All the things she does, she does well, she's a steady influence.

"She really did a nice job the last three and a half minutes (as point guard)," he continued. "We could've just turned it over but I thought we handled it well."

The veteran Eagle coach also praised the Knights for a great game.

"Kingswood did a nice job and they played well," he said. "It's good to be able to come back.

"We came back from a deficit in a tough place to play and that's good," he added.

"I think I got about four years older right there," Charland said after the barn burner. "It's bittersweet because the win was in our grasp."

He noted that leading by 12 points against the defending state champions after playing much of the first half without a starting point guard was a pretty good start to the season.

"We played well against the defending champs," he said. "To be in that situation is a good thing, but the way we reacted needs to change."

Charland was pleased with the bench contributions, with Glazier, Erica Nelson and Pollini all getting solid minutes.

"It's definitely something we can build on," he said. "We made them earn it.

"We were down 15-5 and we could've packed it in right there and we didn't," he added.

JV action

The JV Knights defeated the JV Eagles by a score of 36-24. Izzy O'Hare had 10 points to lead Kingswood, while Abi Bolduc added eight. Kaitlin Samia had nine to lead Kennett.

More Eagles

The Kennett girls hadn't beaten St. Thomas in four years, but after coming back to beat Kingswood earlier in the week, the Eagles finally got past the Saints with a 44-27 win on Friday, Dec. 17.

"I thought we played better than we had at Kingswood," Ames said. "At least more consistently."

The Eagles came out in a man-to-man defensive scheme, much like they switched to at halftime of the Kingswood game, and the scheme worked against the Saints.

"After the game at Kingswood, I figured we better match up with people because we weren't rebounding out of anything else," Ames said. "We were able to get out to a lead and from there it was pretty steady."

The lead never slipped below 10 points after the Eagles got out to a lead of 12 points. The middle two quarters were the best for the Eagles.

"The first quarter was kind of a stalemate," Ames said. "But in the middle two periods we played very well."

The Eagles scored 18 points in the second quarter to take a 26-14 lead at halftime and kept it going into the third quarter.

Allie Wagner, who got hurt in the Kingswood game, still managed to put 20 points on the board and distributed the ball well to her teammates.

"And we got some good inside play from Lauren White and really, a bunch of people," Ames said. "And our rebounding was really good."

Ames complimented White, Kidder, Meader and Murphy for their hard work on the boards.

The Eagles also kept their turnovers to a minimum, which Ames was pleased with.

Coming in, the veteran coach was a bit nervous about the Saints because of the history of the last few years, including last year's championship season when the Saints beat the Eagles twice.

"Going in it was a little bit on the line, but it turned out to be a pretty good game," Ames said. "St. Thomas is a pretty good team, but I thought we played very good defense against them."

The Eagles were in action after deadline Monday against Plymouth and Wednesday at Laconia. The team will be playing in the Farmington Holiday Tournament beginning on Sunday, Dec. 26, at 12:10 p.m. vs. Pittsfield. The girls will continue on Monday, Dec. 27, at 11 a.m. against Epping. If they win that game, they play Dec. 29 at 5:30 p.m. If they lose that game, they play Dec. 28 at 9:30 a.m. The tournament championship is Thursday, Dec. 30, at 6 p.m.

The next regular season game is set for Tuesday, Jan. 4, at home against Berlin.

More Knights

Three days after their tough loss to the Eagles, the Kingswood girls picked up a win, though Charland was the first to admit that it wasn't the best effort his team could put forward.

With Pollini out with an injury and two bench players unavailable due to sickness, the Knights were a little shorthanded but still picked up the 55-47 win over Manchester West.

"Nobody walked out of the gym happy because we couldn't put this team away," Charland said. "We were up 17-4 and couldn't put them away."

The Manchester girls only had 10 field goals on the night and hit the other 27 points from the free throw line.

With the Knights committing so many fouls and the bench already shorthanded, Charland was forced to go with a number of players out of position, but they were still able to hold on for the win.

"It's a good sign that we could pull it out," Charland said. "It was nice to struggle and still win. Those two words have not gone together for us in the last few years."

The Knights came out and took an 8-4 lead after one quarter and upped the lead to 21-16 at halftime. The two teams were dead even in the third quarter and Kingswood led 37-32 after three before pulling away in the final quarter.

Glazier was the key for the Knights on the evening, as she came off the bench to score 18 points, including three three-pointers. She was also five-for-eight from the free throw line.

"She's been a nice surprise," Charland said of the senior. "She played very well and was very active."

The Knights did get a good scoring spread, as Matarozzo chipped in with 15 points and Roy added 10. Alyssa Nelson had eight rebounds and Ekstrom had five steals.

"It's a good sign that we spread the wealth," Charland noted. "It's nice that they have confidence in their offensive game."

The Knight coach was pleased with his team's defensive effort in the first quarter, but wasn't sure why they weren't able to keep the pressure up all night and put the West kids away early.

"But, we'll take a win any time we can get it," he noted.

The Knights finished the 2010 portion of their schedule after deadline on Monday at Laconia. They will be taking part in the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament at Gilford beginning on Monday, Dec. 27.

The Knights will host Newfound in the first round of the tournament at 12:30 p.m. on Monday. If they win, they play at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 28, but if they lose, they play on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

The title game of the tournament is set for Wednesday, Dec. 29, at 6 p.m.

The girls return to regular season action on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at home against Plymouth.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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