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Hawks Drop Cards

Claremont — There were two known facts going into last night’s New Hampshire Division III girls basketball matchup between Hopkinton and Stevens.

Fact No. 1: Hopkinton, coming off a 13-7 season, with all five starters returning, is a legitimate contender for a long postseason run.

Fact No. 2: Stevens, coming off an 8-10 season with all starters graduating, a new coach and a new system, was going to go through some growing pains.

Those two facts added up to a 43-19 Hopkinton win, and made it plain that the Cardinals are going to pay a price for their inexperience when they go up against the veteran teams.

Another key to what proved to be a long night for the Cardinals was that both teams had played Hillsborough-Deering. Stevens lost 38-26, while Hopkinton was a 61-25 winner.

With the win, the Hawks are now 2-0, Stevens is 0-2.

“And we didn’t even play particularly well tonight,” Hopkinton coach Dave Hughes said. “We had a very rough start. We didn’t practice well yesterday, and it carried over to the first half tonight.”

Despite the loss, which saw the Cardinals get just eight field goals all night, Stevens coach Ross Dole is not going to be swayed to abandon his up-tempo type of play. For the past several years under Carl Desilets, the Cardinals’ offense worked off a group of set plays, but Dole likes the rapid offense. Despite turnovers that were so numerous that Dole didn’t want to know the number, he is determined to stay with his system.

“I’m not going to change a thing,” said Dole, who insists the Cardinals are just going to try and define what they do. “We could use more bounce passes and we could do better at catching the ball,” he added. “We’re just not getting to where we’re supposed to be.”

If there was something Dole could find to smile about, it would be his 1-3-1 defense, particularly in the first half. The Hawks had just eight first quarter points and only 19 at the break.

“Yes, the defense pleased me in the first half,” Dole said. “ I think if we were playing a team not so talented, and got a few more points we could have done OK. I’m not discouraged.”

Hughes said his game plan for the night was to put the clamps on Kirsten Dole and Ashley Melcher. “I think we did that,” he said. Melcher had five and Dole two points.

Points were hard to come by all evening. The score was 4-2 with 3:26 to go in the first quarter and just 8-4 after the first eight minutes. Hopkinton picked the pace up a bit after that, outscoring Stevens 35-14 over the final three quarters.

Stevens also had some foul woes, as Melcher picked up her third and three other Cardinals had two fouls at the half.

Melcher’s five points were a team high.

Stevens goes to Kearsarge on Monday.