Gilford’s Kelsey Buckley goes up for a shot against Belmont’s Lauren Price during the Golden Eagles’ 36-27 win on Dec. 22. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 26, 2011GILFORD – The Gilford High School girls' basketball team saved its best for when it mattered most on Dec. 22.
The Golden Eagles outscored visiting Belmont High School, 13-4, in the fourth quarter to turn a tie game into a solid 36-27 win in Division III action.
"We didn't play our best basketball, but neither did Belmont," explained Gilford coach Rick Forge. "But we're 4-1 now, and that's great for the kids. It's been a couple of years since we started 4-1 so that's something to build on going forward."
With the teams tied at 23-23 entering the fourth quarter, Gilford's Kelsey Buckley (10 points, nine rebounds) hit a jumper to give the Eagles a lead but Myranda Lewis responded immediately for Belmont (2-3) with a layup. That's when Gilford went on a run to go ahead for good however, as Buckley hit two more buckets and Abby Harris and Molly Dietrich also scored to cap off an 8-0 run and give the hosts a 33-25 lead with 2:27 left in the fourth.
"We were one and done offensively and we just couldn't get into our offense in the fourth quarter," said Belmont coach Amy West. "We tried to get out in transition but we just couldn't convert."
Lauren Price stopped the bleeding for the Red Raiders with a jumper to cut the deficit to 33-27 with 2:00 remaining, but a three-point play from Dietrich secured the win in the final minute and the 36-27 final.
"We finally started capitalizing on our chances as the game went on," said Forge. "We didn't force the ball as much as we did early and we managed to get into a little bit of a flow."
The fourth quarter certainly didn't mirror the previous three frames, as the two teams battled back and forth all night before Gilford went on its late run. Behind the hot start by senior Olivia Broderick, who scored eight points in the first quarter, the Eagles led 10-9 after the first period.
Belmont's Kaylyn Bellamo (nine points) did her best to keep the Raiders in the game in the second quarter, as she drilled a three-pointer and sank a tough leaner from the baseline to cut into the lead and send the teams into the locker room with Gilford up just 20-19.
"I think if we had made some easy shots in the first half, it would've opened things up a little bit for us," said Forge. "We handled their pressure pretty well all night but there were some things we struggled with in the first half."
The third quarter didn't offer much in the way of offense, as Belmont outscored Gilford just 4-3 in the eight-minute span, setting the stage for the fourth.
"We just need to get a little more mentally tough for situations like that end of the game," said West, whose team was without point guard Mikaela Guertin. "We'll just get going back after the holidays."
Belmont's Britni Spaulding, playing in her first game of the season due to an ankle injury, scored five points in the loss, including three from the free throw line after she was fouled shooting a 3 in the second quarter.
Broderick led Gilford with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Dietrich had 10 points, four steals and four assists. Sarah Veazey grabbed six rebounds to go along with four steals and three assists.
Belmont committed 28 turnovers compared to 20 for the Golden Eagles.
Both teams are competing in the Gilford Holiday Basketball Tournament this week, and the squads meet again in the regular season on Feb. 7 in Belmont.