Both teams split their regular-season series and it's only fitting that second-ranked Bishop Brady of Concord and third-ranked Campbell of Litchfield square off today with a Division III championship berth on the line.
The Green Giants (18-2) and the Cougars (18-2) will compete in a girls' basketball semifinal contest at 5:30 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University's Fieldhouse in Manchester.
At 7:30 p.m., top-ranked Newfound of Bristol (19-1) will battle Fall Mountain (18-2) of Langdon in the other semifinal game. The two winners will advance to Saturday's 4 p.m. championship game at SNHU.
On Feb. 3 in Litchfield, Hannah Neild scored 26 points to lead the Cougars to a 57-39 win over the Green Giants. Bishop Brady, thanks to a game-winning basket with five seconds left by Sarah Thomas, snapped Campbell's eight-game winning streak with a 46-45 decision on Feb. 20 in Concord. Bishop Brady enters today's game with an eight-game winning streak.
In tournament action, Campbell defeated 14th-ranked Winnisquam of Tilton 50-32 in the prelims and knocked off 11th-ranked Gilford, 55-47. Bishop Brady eliminated 18th-ranked Newport 65-37 and edged seventh-ranked Somersworth, 44-39.
Campbell has played in the state title game in five of the last six seasons, winning one in 2011.
"Campbell holds a size advantage on us, but we have speed, and playing on a bigger court (at SNHU) will obviously help us," said second-year Bishop Brady head coach Aaron Brochu.
Brady's starting five are guards Thomas, Riley Bennett and Riselly Deoleo along with forwards Emma Wills and Melissa Mallahan. Campbell will counter with Neild, who was held to 12 points in the loss against Brady, Kyley Julia, Kali Trunca, Alexandra Trevains and Alexis Putzlocker.
"Neild can do it all," said Brochu. "She can shoot, handle the ball and even take it down to the post if she has to score. We'll try to contain her, but we also have to watch Julia, who is their second option. She scored 15 and 17 points against us during the regular season."
Brochu said his team's defense must adjust to Campbell's pick-and-roll plays. "We also have to try and limit them to one shot," he said.
Newfound enters today's game with a 12-game winning streak. Fall Mountain, led by frontcourt standouts Morgan Ferland and Peighton Alberg, along with guards Bailey Roberts and Beth Aumand, look to punch their ticket into Saturday's championship.
The Division II girls' basketball tournament begins around the state today. Wednesday, the spotlight shines on the Division I tourney featuring a Queen City battle between ninth-ranked Memorial and eighth-seeded Trinity at McHugh Gym.