Big night in North Conway
Frase scores 1,000th, Wagner hits nine three-pointers as Eagles best Bobcats, head to semis
|LAUREN KIDDER works hard for a bucket during first half action against Oyster River on March 4. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
March 07, 2011NORTH CONWAY — On a night that had a little bit of everything, at the end of the night the most important thing to be had was a win for the Kennett girls' basketball team.
The Eagle girls jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back on Friday, March 4, downing Oyster River 66-41 to advance to the Division II semifinals.
But along the way, there were a number of things to distract the Eagle girls.
Senior guard Melissa Frase entered the game needing just 12 points to eclipse 1,000 for her career and needed three quarters and two minutes to reach that mark. Teammate Allie Wagner drained 37 points including a school record nine three-pointers. Fans were treated to three McDonald's All American nominees (Frase, Wagner and Oyster River's Danielle Walczak) on the court at the same time, then watched as Walczak suffered a serious leg injury just moments into the second half.
However, when all was said and done, the Eagle win was the most important thing and the defending champs wrapped that up nicely to advance to the Division II semifinals, where they meet up with Lebanon tonight, March 10, in a rematch of last year's Class I finals.
"I thought defensively we rebounded very well," said Kennett coach Peter Ames. "When Danielle went out, that's a big blow to them, but even before that, we'd done a good job."
From the opening jump, it was clear to everyone in attendance that Wagner was on her game and while Frase couldn't get her shots to fall to inch her closer to 1,000, she happily dished the ball to her teammates, allowing Kennett to build an early lead.
Wagner hit a three-pointer and two foul shots to give Kennett a quick 5-0 led before the Bobcats hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to two.
However, a Lauren Kidder rebound and hoop, a Wagner three-pointer and field goal and another Kidder hoop pushed Kennett to a 14-3 lead before the Bobcats scored again to make it 14-5.
Wagner then closed out the quarter with two hoops, including one off a Frase steal and Kennett had an 18-5 lead after one quarter of play.
The visitors hit the first hoop of the second quarter, but Lauren White answered right back for Kennett. After a field goal and a three-pointer pulled the Bobcats to within eight at 20-12, Sam Meader drilled a jump shot to push the lead back to 10.
Oyster River hit another hoop but Meader answered with her second bucket. The visitors hit two from the charity stripe but Wagner drilled back-to-back three-pointers to open up a 30-16 lead, forcing the Bobcats to call timeout with 1:39 to go in the half.
The timeout got the visitors going, as they hit a pair of field goals to cut the lead to 10, but Wagner drained a three-pointer and Frase got her first points of the night as the buzzer sounded ending the first half, sending the Eagles to the break with a 35-20 lead.
The Bobcats got the first hoop of the second half, but Wagner drilled another three-pointer. Moments later, in the Bobcats' offensive end, Walczak went down to the floor and didn't get up. She was eventually helped off the floor by trainer Andy Trowbridge but was unable to put pressure on her right leg.
The Bobcats hit two free throws, but Wagner answered with another three-pointer. After a Bobcat free throw, Wagner hit another there-pointer. Oyster River got a field goal, but Kaitlin Taylor got a rebound and hoop. Frase then drilled a foul shot for a 47-27 lead.
Wagner hit two from the line, but Oyster River answered with a bucket. Rachel Miller then finished off a great pass from Frase and Frase hit a free throw, making it 52-29.
After a pair of Bobcat free throws, Frase put up the quarter's final points to give Kennett a 54-31 lead heading to the final eight minutes.
After a Bobcat bucket opened the quarter, Frase hit a hoop to bring her within two of her magic number. Oyster River got another hoop, but Frase answered with a three-pointer from in front of the Eagle bench with 5:58 on the clock, pushing her over the 1,000-point mark.
As the fans rose to their feet, Ames removed her from the game to a rousing ovation.
The Eagles managed only five more points the rest of the night, as Wagner hit her ninth three-pointer and Tori Burns put in a hoop to close out the 66-41 win.
"When she's in that kind of zone, it's tough to cover her," said Ames of Wagner. "Because she keeps backing up further and further."
The veteran coach also praised Frase for a job well done.
"I think she's been under a great deal of pressure this year with the injury and all the stuff that goes with that," he said. "But I'm glad she got it."
Ames also praised Kidder and Meader for hitting big hoops in the first half that helped open up the floor a bit for Wagner and also praised Kidder and White for a solid job defensively.
"We wanted to put pressure on their shooters on the wing and we did that," Ames said. "I thought we did a lot of things well."
Ames was excited to head back to Southern New Hampshire University, where the Eagles captured last year's Class I title and face-off against Lebanon, the team they beat for that title last year.
"No one's talked about us this year after winning last year," he said. "We're kind of under the radar defending champs, but our kids just win."
The Division II semifinals are tonight, March 10, at 5:30 p.m. after Monday's storm postponed the scheduled time. The game is at Southern New Hampshire University.
The Division II championship game is set for Friday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
Prior to the game, Wagner, Frase and Walczak were honored as three of only 885 girls in the entire country to be nominated as McDonald's All Americans. The last Eagle honored with this nomination was Deb Russell, back in 1989.
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