Lakers Are Outpaced
Hinsdale Handles Sunapee for Division IV Championship
Sunapee's Erika Waterman is chased by Hinsdale's Skyler LeClair, left, and Allison Scott during the New Hampshire Division IV State Championship game at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., on March 8, 2014.
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Sunapee's Rachel Malanga looks for a teammate to pass the ball to during the NH Div IV girls basketball championship against Hinsdale at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H., on March 8, 2014.
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Holderness, n.h. — 20:09.
No matter how determined, how even-keeled, and how gritty the Sunapee High girls basketball team was in Saturday afternoon’s NHIAA Division IV championship game with Hinsdale — and the Lakers displayed all of those characteristics in abundance in a 48-35 loss — that one number, bookending the game’s beginning and its end, ultimately told the story of the day.
The No. 3 Lakers did not net their first field goal of the game until 9:25 had ticked off the clock—sophomore guard Rachel Malang finally breaking the ice with a 3-pointer with 6:35 remaining in the second quarter.
And then, after freshman center Katie Frederick scored her fourth consecutive point to cap an emotional, crowd-cranking 12-0 run to cut a 15-point Hinsdale lead to 32-29 with 2:45 to play in the third, the Lakers did not score another point from the field until a deep 3-pointer from Frederick’s twin sister, Meghan, banked in at the fourth-quarter buzzer.
Those two Sunapee droughts, with only six made free throws sprinkled in to dent the scoreboard, ate up more than 60 percent of the game’s 32 minutes. And against the unbeaten, No. 1 ranked Pacers (20-0), it was the kind of math that simply could not add up to victory.
For Sunapee, Saturday’s setback marked only its third defeat of the season against 17 wins. Unfortunately for the Lakers, all three of those losses came at the hands of the Pacers.
“You know what? They’re good,” Sunapee coach Tim LaTorra said. “At some point, you’ve just got to say, ‘That’s a really good team.’ ”
Not once, but twice, Sunapee (17-3) pulled itself off the deck to make a game of it.
Following a 17-3 first-quarter blitz, in which Hinsdale guard Breanna Benjamin netted six points and five different Pacers scored, Sunapee slowly chipped away at the lead. Malang knocked down a pair of 3s in the first three minutes of the second quarter to fuel a quick 8-2 run to make it 19-11, and senior forward Megan Clarenbach smartly found the cracks in Hinsdale’s 2-3 zone for a pair of foul-line jumpers late in the quarter to keep the deficit a manageable 26-17 at the half.
All things considered — Sunapee shot just 16.7 percent on both 2-point attempts (3-for-18) and 3-point attempts (2-for-12) in the first half—the Lakers were not in such a bad place.
And even when Hinsdale opened the second half much the way it had the first, this time with 6-foot-1 senior center Bridget Bourne capping a 6-0 burst with back-to-back buckets in the low post to make it 32-17, the Lakers refused to fold.
Their coach, for one, was not surprised at his team’s willingness to rise a second time from the canvas.
“We’ve played them twice before,” LaTorra said, “and we knew they were going to start to get tired. We knew this was not going to be just a first- and second-quarter game, but that we were going to have to grind it out, try and wear them down. We were ready to dig down and work.”
Sunapee’s spirited comeback began shortly after LaTorra called timeout with 4:45 remaining in the third. Clarenbach got things started with a strong move on the right block at 4:45 to make it 32-19, Erika Waterman scored six straight on a knifing drive and a 3-plus-1 four-point play at 3:48, and Katie Frederick scored back-to-back buckets inside the paint.
The second of Frederick’s hoops, a fast-break layup after two Pacers collided at midcourt and tumbled to the floor, made it a single-possession game, 32-29, with 2:45 to play, and forced a Hinsdale timeout.
Things got even more interesting, and the Sunapee crowd even more frenzied, when Hinsdale turned it over on its next possession, but Waterman’s attempt at a game-tying 3 rimmed out at 1:54, and after the Lakers got yet another defensive stop, two missed Sunapee foul shots kept the deficit at 32-29 at 1:19.
Benjamin finally put an end to the Pacers’ cold spell (covering 5:26) by draining a right-corner 3 with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter to make it 35-29, and 9-2 burst to open the fourth left the top seeds comfortably in front, 44-31, with 2:08 to play.
“You get to this point, and you want the emotion to swing your way during the last part of the game, and today it didn’t,” LaTorra said. “We just couldn’t go a little bit farther and get that lead back.”
Waterman finished with 12 points to lead Sunapee’s scoring, while Katie Frederick filled out the stat sheet with six points, 13 rebounds (six offensive) and a pair of blocked shots. The Lakers finished the game shooting 17.5 percent on 2-point attempts (7-for-40) and 19 percent (4-for-21) from 3-point range.
Hinsdale’s Bourne led all scorers with 15 points and matched the Lakers’ Katie Frederick for game-high rebounding honors with 13. Benjamin chipped in with 13 points, and guard Skylar Bonnette had five points, six assists and seven rebounds. Hinsdale held a 47-41 edge in rebounds, while making 4-of-7 3-pointers (57 percent) and 14-of-39 2-pointers (36 percent) on the afternoon.