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MANCHESTER - Haley Driscoll made the two biggest plays of the game, and she waited nearly 32 minutes to do so.
The junior scored the game-winning basket with 6.8 seconds left and then deflected a potential game-winning shot on the other end as No. 2 Bedford shocked top-ranked Bishop Guertin of Nashua, 39-38, Saturday in the championship game of the Division I girls' tournament at Southern New Hampshire University Fieldhouse.
The comeback completed a remarkable debut in Division I for Bedford, which moved up from Division II prior to this season. The Bulldogs (20-2) had never won a playoff game during their four years in Division II, but they racked up four in this postseason, never allowing more than 39 points.
Driscoll's basket gave the Bulldogs their first lead since the first quarter, and she made it stand up when she got in the way of a driving Jamie Shelburne on the other end. The Bulldogs got to the loose ball, and the celebration was on.
"Incredible," Driscoll said. "This was our dream."
The win denied BG a second straight title.
The Cardinals (20-2) went ahead 6-5 midway through the first quarter and never trailed again until Driscoll's final basket. They led by as many as seven points, 35-28 with 4:50 left, but missed seven of their final eight shots from the field and three of their last four free throws, and they turned the ball over twice in the closing minutes. Worse yet for the team that allowed the fewest points in the division, BG allowed Bedford to score on seven of its last eight possessions.
"In pressure situations, you have to make plays," BG coach Scott Hazelton said. "(Bedford's players) made the plays when they had to."
None was bigger than the two made by Driscoll. She made a cut to the basket and scored off a nice feed from Mckenzie Brown to put the Bulldogs up 39-38.
"I saw an opening and took it," Driscoll said. "It was one of those moments when everything just freezes and you're looking at the basket."
She said she knew she was risking the chance of a foul when she stepped in front of Shelburne on the other end, but no whistle sounded as the ball was deflected away.
"You sort of have to take a risk," Driscoll said. "You have to step up."
Bedford survived with Brown - who played BG center Meghan Green to a draw when she was in there - sitting on the bench for parts of three quarters due to foul trouble.
Bedford coach Sue Thomas put Brown back in the game with four fouls two minutes into the fourth quarter, after Green (10 points) scored to put the Cards ahead 33-24.
"Meghan was just starting to find her groove, and we knew we had to get (Brown) back in there," Thomas said.
Mix two of the top defensive teams in the division with the jitters that come from playing in the biggest game of the year and the result was a first half that featured plenty of turnovers and missed shots.
BG went into the half with a 20-16 lead mainly because Bedford was 6-of-15 at the line.
The Bulldogs missed eight of 10 shots from the field in the first quarter, as well as four of five free throws, and committed five turnovers. And yet they only trailed 8-5.
The Cardinals, who scored four points in the first quarter of Thursday's semifinal win over Londonderry, were only marginally better this time around. They were 3-for-12 from the field and turned the ball over three times.