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Joyce Endee

Knights get even with Eagles

Kingswood hoop girls best Kennett for the first time in at least four years

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

KAYLIN SAMIA tries to get off a shot as Kingswood’s Brittany Roy strikes an imposing defensive figure during action in Wolfeboro Feb. 11. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 13, 2012
WOLFEBORO — The Kennett and Kingswood girls' hoop teams were both coming off big defeats the previous night. Both were missing key pieces of their team, as Kingswood's Megen Pollini and Kennett's Jessie Wagner were in street clothes due to concussion concerns. Both were in need of a win to advance their cause in the Division II playoff race.

But, on Saturday, Feb. 11, the similarities ended there.

The Knights completely outworked the Eagles and walked off the court with a 50-34 win, earning a season split with their Carroll County rivals.

"It's been a rough week, so to get off to a good start was very important to us," Kingswood coach Grady Charland said.

His team did just that, grabbing an 11-point lead after just eight minutes.

"We came out flat, like we didn't want to be here," Kennett coach Larry Meader said. "This is what's going to happen if you do that.

"They came to play, we didn't come to play," he added. "That's the difference."

In the first quarter, the difference was Brittany Roy. The Knight senior, dealing with the loss of her grandfather earlier in the day, came out on a mission in the first frame, scoring 12 of the Knights' 16 points in the frame to help propel the team to a 16-5 lead after one.

"She owned that first quarter," Charland said.

After Kennett's Lauren White got the first hoop of the game, Roy answered with a rebound and a hoop to tie it up. Nicole Matarozzo drilled a pair of free throws to give Kingswood the 4-2 lead, but another hoop from White pulled the Eagles even at four.

Roy scored the next six points, converting back-to-back three-point plays, the first coming off a Morgan Ekstrom steal, to push Kingswood's lead to 10-4 before a Jordan Murphy free throw got Kennett back on the board.

However, Roy scored the next four points, including one off her own steal and Ekstrom then converted another Roy steal to close out the quarter with Kingswood up by the 16-5 tally.

A Kaylin Samia bucket got Kennett on the board first in the second quarter, but Ekstrom answered with a free throw and then a hoop to make it 19-7.

Samia drilled a three-pointer and Murphy hit a hoop midway through the quarter to cut the lead to 19-12. However, Emily Rumery hit two from the line and Matarozzo drilled a field goal to push the lead to 23-12.

Kennett closed out the quarter with the final four points, as Kaitlin Taylor and Murphy put in hoops, cutting the lead to 23-16 at halftime.

Free throws from Murphy and Lauren Kidder cut the lead to 23-18 just 2:10 into the quarter, but then Danielle Wilkins stepped up.

The junior guard buried a three-pointer to keep the Eagles at bay and after a White hoop made it 26-20, she drained two more three-pointers to up the lead to 30-20 with 1:30 to go in the third quarter.

"That was huge," Charland said of Wilkins' trifecta of threes. "Especially with Morgan on the bench (foul trouble)."

Matarozzo and Emma Tierney closed out the quarter with hoops, Tierney's coming off another Roy steal and Kingswood led 36-20 with eight minutes to play.

Kennett didn't back down, as the Eagles scored the first five points of the fourth quarter. White hit a hoop and Murphy hit three free throws to cut the lead to 36-25, but a Jen Simpson hoop got the Knights back on the board.

Erin Milford hit a free throw for the Eagles, but Rumery answered at the other end and Roy followed with a rebound and putback for a 41-26 lead.

After Blakely hit a hoop for Kennett, Matraozzo drilled two from the line. Blakely hit another hoop and White sank two free throws to make it 43-32, but a Wilkins hoop stretched the lead back to 45-32. Ekstrom proceeded to hit four free throws down the stretch to push the lead to 49-32. Simpson also sank a free throw and Kendra Strong scored the final hoop of the game for Kennett to round out the scoring.

"We battled so much this week, with sickness and injuries," Charland said. "This hasn't happened in a long time."

None of the seniors on the Kingswood roster have beaten Kennett in the past four years.

"This is the confidence we need to roll into Coe-Brown and hopefully into the playoffs," Charland continued.

The Knight coach was most proud of his team's defensive effort. After a couple of games where they gave up a lot of points, he was pleased to keep a team around the 30 mark.

He also praised the work off the bench of Bridget Brogan, Simpson and Tierney.

"I tell my bench, the minutes they play are the most important in the game," Charland said.

"We grinded it back, but we went back to bad habits and bad defense," Meader noted. "Every loose ball was theirs, they were hustling, we were going through the motions.

"I expect us to play better than we're playing right now," the Eagle coach continued.

Roy had a big game, putting in 14 points, pulling down seven rebounds and grabbing five steals. Wilkins added 11 points, Ekstrom had nine and Matarozzo chipped in with eight.

For the Eagles, White led the way with 10 points, while Murphy added nine.

Kingswood will be in action on Friday, Feb. 17, for the final home game of the season, as they take on Plymouth at 6:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, they head to Pembroke and on Thursday, Feb. 23, they visit Souhegan for the final regular season contest, both for 6:30 p.m. games.

Kennett will be in action on Friday, Feb. 17, at home against Pembroke. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the girls host Coe-Brown in the final regular season home game and they round out the season at Laconia on Thursday, Feb. 23. All games are set for 6:30 p.m. starts.

JV action

The JV game was an intense one as well, as the Knights and Eagles battled back and forth the entire afternoon before Kingswood prevailed with a 39-38 win. Down by three, Kennett's Amanda Nusbaum drilled a shot in the final seconds that ignited the Kennett bench and fans, but the official ruled that her foot was on the line and the shot went for just two, allowing the Knights to hold on for the win.

Abbi Bolduc led the way for the Knights, putting in 15 points, while Brittanie Jones led the way for Kennett with 12 points on the afternoon.

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

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