Tigers Squeak Past Royals for a Third Time

West Canaan — It’s hard to beat an opponent three times in the same season. In Tuesday night’s NHIAA Division III girls basketball playoff opener against Mascoma, the Newport High girls basketball team made it even harder on themselves with poor free-throw shooting and turnovers.

In the end, though, the No. 18 Tigers made enough plays for a 58-57, double-overtime win over the No. 15 Royals — their third victory over their rivals this year.

Vanessa Olivares sank an awkward-angle jump shot with 25 seconds left in the second OT to make it 58-56, and Newport’s Stephanie Carl (game-high 18 points) dribbled out the clock after gathering her 13th rebound of the night with 6.7 seconds left as the Tigers (10-12; 9-10 league) won their first playoff game since going undefeated in league play and winning their only state championship in 2007. Newport advances to the second round Thursday at No. 2 Bishop Brady.

Mascoma finished the year 10-11 and 9-10 in league play.

Both of Newport’s wins in West Canaan were dramatic. In December, the Tigers came from behind and won 38-37 on a 3-pointer by Renee Magoon at the buzzer. It was the Royals’ turn to rally Tuesday, overcoming a 16-point, second-half deficit and forcing overtime on Kialah Reeder’s bank shot with two seconds left, the first tie since midway through the first quarter.

“It’s hard enough to beat a team three times, but especially when you have to do it twice in their building,” said Newport co-coach Doug Beaupre. “Even in 2007, we beat them three times, but one of them was in a neutral site (in the semifinals at Plymouth State University).”

The Royals were in double-bonus foul trouble from the first whistle of the fourth quarter, but the Tigers were just 4-of-12 from the line and turned the ball over seven times in the period as Mascoma completed the comeback.

Junior Michaela Selinga scored a season-high 17 points and senior Amanda Guerin scored 12 of her 15 in the second half for the Royals, who trailed 35-20 before a 9-3 run to close the third quarter cut it to single digits.

Mascoma clamped down with pressure defense to trigger the rally and contained Carl, who went 1-of-2 from the line for her lone fourth-quarter point.

“We put (Kaycee) Lashua on Carl, started making them shoot from the outside, and we started getting rebounds,” said Mascoma coach Mike Neily. “It was defense that got us back in it.”

Mascoma pulled to within 42-37 on a pair of free throws from Alex Van Zandt with 3:20 left in regulation, but Newport stretched it back to eight on a roll-around-and-fall-through 3-pointer from Brooke Beaulieu.

After two more from Van Zandt, Reeder scored three straight baskets for the Royals. The junior scored on a second-chance followup, on a swing pass from Guerin and the bank shot on a feed from Lindsey Thompson just before time expired to force OT.

“We just decided we weren’t ready for the season to end, and we had a lot of girls step up,” Neily said. “I’d much rather lose this way than the way we did (36-23 at Newport) the last time we played them. We never got off the bus that day, but we were ready to go today.”

Newport led 51-48 after a pair of free throws from Kirsten Kibbey with 1:45 left in the first OT, but Selinga sank a pair for the Royals and a Newport turnover led to a layup from Lashua to tie it 52-52.

Neither team led by more than a point in the second OT, and a Van Zandt putback gave the Royals their first lead since early in the first quarter, 54-53. It was 56-56 when a traveling violation against Mascoma led to Olivares’ off-balance leaner from the right side that found the bottom of the net for Newport’s lone field goal of the second overtime.

“It was one of those scenarios where you’re saying, ‘No! No! ... Yes!!’ ” said Beaupre. “We were looking to get inside and take a higher percentage shot, but it worked out.”

Olivares was one of several bench players who played well with top defender Chrissy Merritt in foul trouble much of the night.

Free Throws: Merritt (nine points) and Magoon (10) combined for four 3-pointers in the second half as the Tigers started quickly. They led 27-13 at halftime and 33-17 after a jump shot from Carl 2:20 into the third quarter. ... Newport held a 41-36 rebounding advantage. ... The Tigers had 22 turnovers in the second half and two overtimes combined, while the Royals had 10 over the same span. ... Thompson’s four points tied a season low. She entered the game averaging a team-best 12.2 points per game.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.