Alex Jewell fights her way through White Mountains defenders on Jan. 31. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 06, 2012BRISTOL — For the Newfound girls' basketball team, the game against White Mountains on Jan. 31 was probably the biggest game of the season.
With the Spartans sporting an 11-1 record (and a win over the Bears earlier in the season), the 11-2 Bears needed the victory to push them closer to the top four in the Division III standings.
Nobody expected it to be easy, as coach Karri Peterson's charges had managed just 39 points in Whitefield in December and would be up against a team with a much bigger inside presence.
What the Bears had last Tuesday night that the Spartans couldn't match was the long ball.
Newfound drained nine three-pointers, all in the first three quarters, and used a big run at the end of the first quarter to pull away from what was a close game and never looked back, grabbing a 57-47 win over the Spartans.
"When we were up there, they had the lead and we came back and tied it up and from there it was a two-point game," Peterson said. "I knew once they got the (late) seven-point lead, we were done."
This time however, it was Peterson's kids that managed to grab the early lead and they never let the Spartans get terribly close after seizing that lead.
Out of the gate, it was a back-and-forth battle, as the Spartans scored first, only to see Amber Plummer drain a three-pointer to give Newfound the lead. After another Spartan hoop, Abbey Symonds hit for two, but again, the visitors answered. Another Plummer hoop put Newfound up by one, but the Spartans answered and took an 8-7 lead.
The Bears then went on a 10-0 run to close out the first quarter, as Jordan Phinney and Allison Dorey hit buckets and Emily McArthur hit a three-pointer to push the lead to 14-8. Phinney then drilled a long three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bears a 17-8 lead after one quarter.
The Spartans scored the first three points of the second quarter to cut the lead to six, but the Bears never let it get any closer than that. A McArthur three quickly put the lead back to nine and the teams exchanged baskets, with Phinney hitting a hoop and McArthur following for a 24-13 lead. After a Spartan bucket, Phinney sank a shot from long distance for a 27-15 lead. The Spartans got two back, but a McArthur hoop erased that hoop. After another White Mountains bucket, Plummer hit for two for a 31-19 lead.
The Spartans managed the next four points to cut the lead to 31-23, but McArthur hit another three and Phinney drained a foul shot to send Newfound to the half with the 35-23 lead.
The Spartans tried to make a run to open the third, scoring the first three points, but a Phinney three-pointer negated what they had gained and the Bears allowed the Spartans just five more points the rest of the quarter.
Alex Jewell followed up a Spartan three with a hoop and Phinney hit another three-pointer. Jewell then drilled two from the foul line and Phinney closed out the quarter with a long three-pointer for a 48-31 lead for the Bears with eight minutes to play.
Plummer finished off a Phinney steal to open the fourth quarter, but the Spartans responded with the next two hoops.
Plummer hit another hoop, which the Spartans again answered and after a McArthur free throw, the visitors hit a hoop and drained a foul shot, cutting the lead to 53-40.
Symonds hit two from the line to push the lead back to 15 and Plummer hit another two from the line for a 57-40 lead.
The Spartans closed out the game with the final seven points, cutting the score to 57-47.
The Bears did a good job of pulling down rebounds against a much bigger White Mountains team and Peterson attributed that to the way the lineup was set.
"I think it makes a big difference with Jordan at the one and Amber at the three," Peterson said. "We're still not big, but Jordan on the weak side boards helps a lot.
"Then we can have Amber on the other side because she's aggressive," the veteran coach continued.
She noted that after halftime, the Spartans switched out of the 1-3-1 defense they used in the first half, which kept McArthur from getting as many open looks outside, but seemed to open things up a bit more for others.
"Those are the little adaptations you have to make in a split second," she said.
For the game, Phinney finished with 20 points, while McArthur added 14 and Plummer netted 13.
On Friday, Feb. 3, the Bears hosted Somersworth and rolled to a 70-39 win.
The Bears broke the press early, with Phinney converting on a three-point play right away and the Bears took a 16-10 lead after one quarter thanks to some turnovers and the defensive pressure.
Phinney and Plummer both went to the bench in the middle of the first in foul trouble and Jewell and Dorey combined for 10 of the Bears' 16 points in the frame.
Phinney and Plummer came back on the court with five minutes to go in the second, but Plummer picked up a third foul and went back to the bench, with Allie Symonds coming on the court.
However, Symonds suffered a hit to the head and had to leave the game and the 'Toppers won the quarter 18-15 and cut the lead to 32-28 at the break.
The 'Toppers cut the gap to one, but star Rachel Hill had to go to the bench with four fouls and the Bears turned things around.
Newfound outscored the visitors 15-4 the rest of the quarter and took a 48-35 lead. Phinney drained 11 in the frame.
Hill fouled out with five minutes to go in the game and Newfound controlled the rest of the way, winning the frame by a 22-4 score. McArthur had 10 in the frame.
Phinney finished with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Dorey had a strong all-around game, putting in 15 points, grabbing eight rebounds and seven steals and dishing out three assists. Jewell had her best game of the season, putting in 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. McArthur had 15 points and Plummer grabbed six rebounds, two steals and two assists to go with her six points.
The Bears will be in action on Friday, Feb. 10, for the final home game of the season, as Farmington visits for a 6:30 p.m. varsity start. The girls close out the regular season at Inter-Lakes on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126