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December 11. 2012 11:25PM

NHIAA Girls' Basketball: Bedford takes charge, tops Londonderry


Bedford's Halet Driscoll, left, and Londonderry's Casey Evans battle for the ball during Tuesday night's game. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
LONDONDERRY - The Bedford High girls' basketball team overcame an admitted case of first-half nerves by deciding to have some fun during the second half of Tuesday's game against Londonderry.

If only all games could be this fun.

Call it a statement game for the Bulldogs (2-0) as they overcame a five-point halftime deficit to hold the Lancers (1-1) to three points in the third quarter and pull away for a 55-46 win.

"They're a good team, but we knew we could compete," junior forward Haley Driscoll said after leading Bedford with 14 points, 10 rebounds and an unrelenting effort on both ends of the court. "We sort of came into this week with the attitude that we have a lot to prove."

Consider the case half proven.

Now comes the really big test.

Bedford coach Sue Thomas wasn't sure how her team was going to react when she saw her team's first schedule in Division I would include dates against Londonderry on Tuesday and defending champion Bishop Guertin on Friday.

"We went into this week thinking we had nothing to lose," Thomas said.

Thomas said her players were acting tentative, almost nervous as they committed 15 turnovers in the first half and fell behind, 28-23, at the half.

"That's what we talked about at halftime," Thomas said. "We told them to go out and have fun and just play basketball."

The Bulldogs held the Lancers without a point over the first seven minutes of the third quarter as they went on a 12-0 run. The streak was finally snapped when Londonderry junior Liza Simpson (21 points) knocked down a 3-pointer for her team's only points of the quarter.

Londonderry coach John Fagula said he wants his team to play up tempo, but it still has to learn when to slow down and play in control.

The Lancers, who knocked down seven 3-pointers to stay in the game, got to within 47-46 with 2:27 left, but Bedford answered with a quick layup to regain control.

The Lancers struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 11-for-30 from the field and 3-for-9 from the foul line. They were able to take a 28-23 lead into the half by scoring 18 points off Bedford turnovers.

Simpson did most of the damage. She had 14 points in the first half, hounded the Bedford guards and set up her teammates on the fast break.

Londonderry closed out the first quarter with an 11-4 run aided by five Bedford turnovers.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over 15 times in the half and had several players picking up early fouls, but they got a boost from their young bench. Freshmen Nicole Tucci and Brianna Purcell and sophomore Gabrielle Hunter all had four points in the second quarter and Tucci and Purcell were on the floor for most of the second half.

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Jim Fennell may be reached at jfennell@unionleader.com.

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