Emily McArthur elevates to the hoop during action against Campbell at Southern New Hampshire University on Feb. 28. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 05, 2012MANCHESTER — Late in the third quarter in their Division III semifinal meeting Feb. 28, the Newfound girls' hoop team seemed to have the Campbell Cougars right where they wanted them.
The Bears had battled back from a 10-point deficit and the Cougars had been called for a couple of fouls in a row and had subsequently given the Bears the lead. One Campbell player was crying on the court as she was called for the foul and saw her team's lead disappear.
It was then that the Cougars showed why they are traditional championship contenders.
Campbell regrouped in and closed out the third quarter with six of the final eight points of the frame to take the lead back after three.
Newfound seemed to have the Cougars in a tough spot midway through the fourth quarter as well, as the Bears fought through to a four-point lead with 5:35 to go in the game. This marked the first time all season that the Cougars had trailed by four points.
However, the Cougars again proved why they are always contenders, converting on a three-point play and drilling a three-pointer with 3:48 to go to retake the lead, which they never relinquished, ending Newfound's season with a 50-45 win.
"We had them down by four, but obviously at that point we didn't make the best decisions," coach Karri Peterson said. "If we had spread it out when we were up by four, they would've fouled us and we could've gone to the line.
"I'm glad we came out and showed we're in the same caliber as they are," Peterson continued. "We made them work for 32 minutes."
Newfound took the early lead at Southern New Hampshire University, as Abbey Symonds drilled a three for the game's first points. After a Campbell foul shot, Jordan Phinney hit a hoop for a 5-1 lead for the Bears.
Campbell came right back, hitting the next eight points, including a pair from the foul line to take a 9-5 lead.
Hoops from Emily McArthur and Amber Plummer tied the game at nine with 1:45 to go in the first period and a pair of free throws from Phinney just seconds later gave Newfound an 11-9 lead.
The Cougars hit a hoop to tie the game and sank a three-pointer with 20 seconds to go in the quarter and took a 14-11 lead after one frame.
Newfound battled back in the second quarter, as Phinney opened the frame with a rebound and hoop to cut the lead to one. After a Cougar hoop, McArthur hit for two to again cut the lead to one. Campbell answered with a bucket, but a Phinney three-pointer with 5:12 to go in the half tied the game at 18.
Campbell answered with the next eight points to turn the tie into a 26-18 lead before Alex Jewell put in a hoop to cut the lead to 26-20. However, the Cougars got the final hoop of the half and took the 28-20 lead to halftime.
After an early hoop gave the Campbell girls a 10-point lead, Newfound battled back with tough play from Phinney. The talented seniors hit a hoop to cut the lead to eight, then drilled a three-pointer to make it a five-point game. She then converted on a free throw after her own steal to make it 30-26 with 5:23 to go in the third.
After a block from Symonds at the defensive end, Phinney hit her second three-pointer of the quarter, cutting the lead to one with 3:40 to go in the frame. A McArthur free throw with 3:02 to go tied the game at 30 and after the Cougars hit one from the line, Jewell hit two, to give the Bears the 32-21 lead with 2:23 to go.
However, Campbell hit the next six points for a 37-32 lead. Jewell sunk two free throws with 17 seconds to go in the quarter to cut the lead to 37-34 after three quarters.
Campbell opened the fourth quarter with two free throws, but Symonds drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to two and a Phinney bucket completely eliminated the lead with 6:30 to go in the game.
A Symonds free throw gave Newfound a 40-39 lead and a Jewell steal and hoop upped the lead to 42-39 30 seconds later. Jewell converted a free throw 25 seconds after that to push the lead to 43-39 with 5:35 to go in the game.
Campbell got back to a two-point deficit with a hoop and then converted a three-point play to take the lead at 44-43 and then drilled a three-pointer with 3:48 to go for a 47-43 lead.
Phinney hit two more free throws to cut the lead to two, but the Cougars hit a hoop for a four-point lead and then slowed the ball down a bit, hoping to run out the clock.
Both teams missed free throws, but the Cougars got one free throw to make it a five-point lead with 46 seconds to go and then stole the ball in the lane to seal the win.
"I think the girls played hard, but in the first half we got a little outworked on the boards, which hurt," Peterson said. "And we missed a couple of easy layups that would've made a difference."
Peterson knew the Cougars were going to try and slow the pace down when they got the lead late, which made things tough for her team, as the Bears don't play a lot of man-to-man defense.
"I thought as long as we can stay ahead by one, we could stay with it," Peterson said. "But then we started to force the ball."
Peterson had nothing but praise for her team.
"The girls have nothing to hang their heads about," she said. "They took these guys to the final minutes. We played with six players and pressed the whole game."
Peterson also praised Phinney, who closed out a stellar career with a dynamite effort.
"I know she wanted to get to the finals as a senior," the Bear coach said. "She had a great game, I couldn't ask for a kid to do more than she did."
Phinney finished with 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds and also added four steals
Peterson also praised Jewell and Symonds for stepping up to hit big hoops. Jewell had nine points and six rebounds, while Symonds had seven points. Despite a tough night shooting from the field, Plummer had eight rebounds for the Bears.
Phinney played all 32 minutes and had only one foul, while Plummer played 31 minutes, Allison Dorey played 29 minutes and Jewell played 28.
Newfound finished the regular season at 16-2 and were the fourth seed in the Division III tournament. They beat Gilford in the first round and Fall Mountain in the quarterfinals. The season included a win over White Mountains Regional, who beat Campbell on Saturday, March 3, to capture the Division III title.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126