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ERIN MILFORD takes the ball to the hoop for two points in action Dec. 26 in Farmington. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 02, 2012
FARMINGTON — The Kennett girls' hoop team had no problem with the competition at the Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash in Farmington last week.

The Eagles captured the championship with a win over Mascoma on Thursday, Dec. 29. Due to holiday deadlines, the details of that game will appear in next week's edition. Also see the photo on page A1.

The Lady Eagles demolished Nute to start the tourney on Monday, Dec. 26, survived a slow start to defeat Woodsville in game two and then finished with a win over Pittsfield in the third game.

The Eagles opened the tournament against Nute and not knowing what to expect from the Rams, got out of the gate a little slow.

"We didn't know what type of team they were in the first few minutes and we weren't there to play," said coach Larry Meader. "But after that, we really got better."

Nute took a 1-0 lead on a free throw, but back-to-back hoops from Jessie Wagner, the second on a great feed from Casey Blakely, gave Kennett a 4-1 lead. A Blakely rebound and hoop put Kennett up 6-1 before a technical foul shot put Nute back on the board.

Jordan Murphy finished off an Erin Milford steal for another two points and then added another bucket for a 10-2 lead. Lauren White hit a hoop for a 12-2 lead before Nute closed out the quarter on a 3-0 run, hitting a free throw and their first field goal of the quarter in the final 30 seconds, closing the gap to 12-5 after one quarter.

White got the first four points of the second quarter, the second hoop coming off her own steal, but Nute got two of those points back to make it 16-7.

Kennett then proceeded to go on a 14-0 run to open the lead to 30-7. Wagner hit two hoops in the run, while Murphy hit four, including two off her own steals. Blakely hit a pair from the line to finish the run.

Nute finally got back on the board with a three-pointer, but Blakely closed out the half with a rebound and hoop for a 32-10 lead at the break.

Wagner came out and drilled back-to-back three-pointers to start the second half and Blakely and Milford followed with hoops before the Rams finally got on the board with three minutes to play in the quarter.

Gwynn McGinley hit back-to-back hoops, the first on a nice feed from Amanda Nusbaum, closing out the quarter with a 46-12 lead for the Eagles.

Nusbaum and White hit the lone hoops of the fourth quarter for Kennett and Nute drilled a three-pointer and a field goal to account for the 50-17 final score.

"I told them to focus on rebounding," Meader said. "The first few minutes were horrible but it picked up after that. They (Nute) have some good rebounders."

He praised his team for doing a good job keeping its composure during the blowout and noted White had a solid game and was able to stay out of foul trouble.

"And a lot of the young girls got experience and we need that," Meader commented.

Wagner finished with 14 points on the night, while Murphy added 12 and White and Blakely both chipped in with six.

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, Woodsville came out and took a 6-4 lead after one quarter, but Kennett rallied for a 15-12 lead at the break. They shut out the Engineers in the third quarter and took the 38-20 win.

After the game, Wagner won the three-point shooting contest by drilling nine three-pointers.

The Eagles returned to Farmington on Wednesday, Dec. 28, to take on Pittsfield.

With a place in the finals already secured, it seemed the Eagles weren't quite ready to take the court, as they struggled on the boards in the early going.

Meader was disappointed that the girls didn't come out quickly, as the team is working on a lot of things to use in the regular season and needed to come out strong to do that.

"We still have to work on stuff for the regular season," he said. "They outworked us and outhustled us, every loose ball was theirs, every rebound was theirs."

Luckily Kennett turned in a stronger effort in the second half and took the 37-30 win.

Pittsfield scored the game's first four points before Kalin Samia got Kennett on the board almost four minutes into the game. Pittsfield responded with another hoop to take a 6-2 lead, but hoops from White and Kaitlin Taylor tied the game at six. Pittsfield potted another one to retake the lead, but a Murphy three-pointer with six seconds on the clock in the quarter gave Kennett a 9-8 lead after one.

Murphy netted the first hoop of the second quarter, but Pittsfield went on an 8-0 run to take a 16-11 lead.

However, Kennett answered with a 6-0 run to end the half, with Taylor hitting two and Murphy draining one to give Kennett a 17-16 lead at halftime.

Pittsfield scored the first two hoops of the third, but Blakely hit a bucket and sank a free throw to tie the game at 20.

Wagner drained a three and a rebound and hoop from Blakely and a three-point play from Murphy upped the lead to 28-20 for the Eagles before the Panthers put in a free throw for the final points of the frame.

Pittsfield again scored the first two hoops of the fourth to cut the lead to three, but a Taylor rebound and hoop upped the lead back to five. Pittsfield answered again, but Wagner hit a three-pointer and Blakely sank two free throws to ice the game at 35-27. After a nice Wagner block, Pittsfield netted a free throw and hoop to cut the lead to 35-30, but Taylor hit two free throws down the stretch to close out the 37-30 win.

"The second half we did a much better job rebounding and the intensity picked up," Meader said. "They broke our press early because we weren't working."

He praised Murphy for a solid job at the point.

Murphy and Taylor each finished with 10 points on the afternoon, while Wagner and Taylor each had 12 rebounds. White had 11 boards.

Kennett will be in action on Friday, Jan. 6, at Bedford at 6:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Jan. 10, the girls head to Manchester West, also for a 6:30 p.m. start. The girls return home Thursday, Jan. 12, for a 6:30 p.m. game with Merrimack Valley.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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