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Eagle girls roll past Knights

KINGSWOOD’S MEGEN POLLINI and Kennett’s Lauren Kidder fight for control of a rebound during action Feb. 14 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 21, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — The first time the Kennett and Kingswood girls' hoop teams met up was opening night of the season and the Knights put a scare into the defending champions before the Eagles rallied in the second half to escape Wolfeboro with a win.

When the county rivals renewed acquaintances on Valentine's Day, there was not nearly as much drama.

Kennett jumped out to a 19-6 lead after one quarter and never looked back, handing the Knights a 71-46 loss.

"They could've scored 100 on us tonight, they were that hot," Kingswood coach Grady Charland said.

"We got some offensive rebounds and putbacks," Kennett coach Peter Ames said. "Defensively we played pretty well for the first two and a half periods."

The game started a bit late as Kennett honored its 1,000-point scorers with a banner ceremony prior to the contest. Ames was also honored as the New Hampshire Coach of the Year for his work leading his team to last year's championship.

"Congrats to Peter," Charland noted. "That's well-earned."

The first time the two teams met up, Kennett was without guard Melissa Frase and there was the strong possibility that fellow star Allie Wagner would miss this game, as she battled back from an injury suffered the previous week.

However, the senior was dressed and ready to go and the duo gave the Knights fits all night.

"I would love to have two shooting guards like that," Charland said. "I'd like to see how you defend that."

"Allie looked great," Ames noted. "She was expecting it to hurt more, but she said it felt pretty good."

Kennett's Lauren White and Kingswood's Brittany Roy exchanged baskets to get the scoring under way. A Lauren Kidder free throw, a Wagner three-pointer and a Frase bucket quickly extended Kennett's lead to 8-2 before Roy hit another hoop for the Knights.

Wagner and Frase hit back-to-back three-pointers and Lauren Kidder followed with a bucket. Sam Meader then converted a three-point play to give the hosts a 19-4 lead. Roy hit a hoop to close out the first quarter with the Eagles up 19-6.

Wagner converted on a four-point play to open the second quarter and then got a steal and a hoop to make it 25-6. Frase and Kaitlin Taylor each hit a pair from the free throw line to up the lead to 29-6 before Roy dropped in a hoop for Kingswood. Jessie Wagner hit for two and Allie Wagner followed with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws, upping the lead to 36-8.

Alyssa Nelson got Kingswood into double figures, but White answered with a rebound and hoop. A Megen Pollini free throw and a Nicole Matarozzo hoop closed out the scoring in the first half for Kingswood, who trailed 38-13 at the break.

Kingswood found its long range shooting in the third quarter to hang with the Eagles.

Morgan Ekstrom hit a three-pointer to get the Knights started in the half and Matarozzo converted on her own steal, making it 38-18. After a Frase bucket put Kennett at the 40-point mark, Matarozzo buried a three-pointer for the Knights. Allie Wagner followed with her own three-pointer to make it 43-21.

Roy hit a pair from the charity stripe to cut the lead to 20, but Allie Wagner answered with a three-pointer for the Eagles. Kidder finished off a great Frase pass to make it 48-23.

Matarozzo then hit back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Knights to within 19, but Allie Wagner answered with another three-pointer to keep her team well in control.

Roy hit another free throw, but Meader answered with a field goal. Allie Wagner and Kidder each hit from the stripe and Casey Blakely hit a field goal for Kennett, upping the lead to 58-30.

Kingswood captain Ari Lehner hit a free throw, but Rachel Miller finished off another great Frase pass to push Kennett to the 60-point mark. Ekstrom drained a three-pointer for the Knights, their fifth of the quarter, making it 60-34, but Jessie Wagner closed out the third quarter scoring for the Eagles with a hoop to give the hosts a 62-34 lead after three.

Miller hit two buckets (sandwiched around a pair of Jordan Murphy free throws) to give Kennett a 68-34 lead opening up the fourth quarter, but Matarozzo and Ekstrom each hit hoops for the Knights to answer. After a Taylor hoop, Ekstrom drained another three-pointer for the Knights. Kennett's Kendra Strong hit a free throw for Kennett's final points and Matarozzo hit two from the line, Leah Kenison put in a hoop and Nelson finished up the scoring with a free throw to close out the game.

While Charland wasn't pleased with the loss, he was pleased that his team never quit hustling, even down by 30 points.

"I was happy to see Morgan (Ekstrom) diving on the floor in the fourth quarter, down by 30," Charland said. "That was my favorite play right there, I love to see that."

He noted that he thought his team played a bit scared, which hurt them coming out of the gate.

The Knights were also hurt by the fact that Emily Rumery, who Charland planned on using extensively off the bench, was hurt in the final minutes of the JV game and had to sit out the varsity contest.

He praised Kenison for a solid job in limited minutes and Pollini and Nelson for their work on the boards.

Ames was pleased he was able to get some of his starters some valuable rest in the first of back-to-back games.

"The Kingswood kids played hard," Ames said. "It was a good game for us, an important game, one we had to have to keep ourselves in position."

He also praised the Knights for their patience and understanding during the 1,000-point ceremony that delayed the start of the game.

For Kennett, Allie Wagner had 28 points, while Frase had nine and White added seven.

For Kingswood, Matarozzo drained 17 points, while Ekstrom and Roy each had 11.

More Eagles

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the Eagles hosted Oyster River and picked up a solid 51-43 win.

The Eagles were able to contain Bobcat star Danielle Walczak, particularly in the second half, which allowed the Eagles to pull away.

"I thought we did a nice job on their big kid, particularly in the second half," Ames said. "That's the key because she's a pretty good player."

He noted that White and Kidder did a solid job underneath on Walczak and Meader did a great job coming down from the corner to help out.

Frase had 20 points and Allie Wagner added 17 in the win.

"The score was low because Oyster River plays a pretty slow pace," Ames said. "But this was certainly a big win for us going into this week."

The Eagles traveled to Pembroke on Thursday, Feb. 17, and had no problem defeating the Spartans, 70-34.

With three games on the docket that afternoon, there was a lot of sitting around for the varsity players and they came out a bit slow out of the gate.

"We came out a little stiff," Ames said, noting the Eagles led just 12-10 after one quarter. "But then we finally got going a little bit."

The Eagles got a balanced attack, with four girls in double figures. Frase had 16 and nine assists, Blakely had 15 points, Allie Wagner had 14 points and five assists and Kidder had 11 points. White also grabbed 12 rebounds.

Ames praised Blakely for a great all-around game and praised Frase and Wagner for getting the ball inside to the other kids.

The Eagles will finish up the regular season against Laconia today, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. The Division II playoffs begin on Tuesday, March 1, and the Eagles will be hosting a playoff game that night at 7 p.m.

More Knights

The Knights returned home one night after falling to Kennett and dropped a 47-29 decision to Coe-Brown.

"We couldn't put the ball in the bucket," Charland noted. "It goes without saying, we're having a hard time scoring points right now."

Kingswood shot just 12 percent from the field (seven for 56) and was just 12 of 25 from the free throw line.

Despite that, the Knights were in the game, trailing by just nine heading to the fourth quarter after playing even with the Bears in the third quarter.

Charland credited the relative closeness of the score to his team's solid defensive effort, but again lamented the ability to put points in.

"Coe-Brown started man-to-man and went to zone and we refused to go to both sides of our offense and be patient," the Knight coach said. "I think we could be a good team against zone defense and score points but we have to be patient and break it down with the pass."

Matarozzo led the way with seven points, all from the free throw line. Roy added five, all in the third quarter.

On Friday, Feb. 18, the girls made the trip to Plymouth where they fell to the Bobcats, 39-29.

Plymouth jumped out to a 10-0 after one quarter and led 23-11 after two quarters of play. The hosts led 31-20 heading to the final quarter, but Kingswood cut the lead a bit as the quarter rolled along. However, the hosts hit foul shots in the closing quarter to seal the victory.

"We just didn't show up to play," Charland said. "We did battle back. We started pressing and they turned the ball over, but we just ran out of legs."

Matarozzo led the way for the Knights, pouring in nine points on the evening. Pollini added six.

The Kingswood girls will play host to Souhegan in the final game of the season, today, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. If the Knights qualify for the Division II tournament, they will be on the road on Tuesday, March 1.

JV action

In a back and forth JV game on Feb. 14, the Eagle girls squeaked out a 44-43 win over their rivals from Kingswood.

Tori Burns led the Eagles with 12 points, while Kalin Samia added 11 and Brit Ainsworth netted 10.

Kingswood's Rachel Lapar led all scorers with 13 points on the night.

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