Pinkerton girls pull away, beat Nashua North
DERRY - Pinkerton Academy of Derry's undefeated record was in jeopardy until the fourth quarter when, as an observer noted to Nashua North coach Ricky Oliver, the Titans stopped taking the ball to the basket.
"I couldn't agree more," said Oliver whose team scored just four points in the final frame and dropped a 56-43 Division I girls' basketball decision at Hackler Gymnasium on Sunday.
For three quarters, Nashua North was consistently driving the lane for layups, short putbacks and free throw opportunities after drawing shooting fouls.
But in a 39-39 game to start the fourth quarter, the Titans shifted gears and settled for perimeter shots. Many of them produced long rebounds for Pinkerton, which cashed them in for valuable transition points.
The Astros gradually pulled away, starting the last stanza with a 6-0 run on baskets from Brandi Bonneau (12 points), Samantha Breslin (eight points) and two free throws from Valerie Martin, who led all scored with 20 points.
Genevieve Gosselin of Nashua North momentarily stopped the run with a hoop, but Breslin pushed the Pinkerton lead to 48-41 with a three-point basket.
The Astros closed out the game with an 8-0 run behind Kayla Stacy, who contributed a basket and two free throws.
"We just stopped taking the ball to the basket and we ended up fouling and putting them on the line," said Oliver. "When you put a great team like Pinkerton on the line, they will punish you."
The Astros outscored the Titans 14-4 at the free throw line.
Pinkerton head coach John Barry said he scouted Nashua North at least twice this season. "I recently saw them against Memorial and they're a very strong dribble-penetrating team," said Barry. "I thought we defended them well, especially in that last quarter. The (Taylor) Choate girl is tough to defend, but she's been tough on a lot of teams this season."
Choate, a sophomore, led the Titans with 18 points. Gosselin had 11.
Pinkerton is halfway through a brutal stretch of games. The Astros just defeated No. 5 ranked Londonderry (10-4) and No. 4 Nashua North (12-2). This week they hit the road to face No. 2 Bishop Guertin (13-1) Tuesday and No. 3 Bedford (13-2) on Friday.
"Call me a preparation freak, but playing today means we only have one day to prepare for Bishop Guertin, which can play and beat you in many ways," said Barry. "We've got our work cut out for us."
Although Pinkerton is unbeaten, Barry said he has a long list of things for his team to improve upon.
"I guess the top priority right now is putting the ball in the basket," he said. "Don't get me wrong, we have a hard-working team and the girls play hard from the start to the end. But I can't put my finger on why we can't make more shots in the paint. Today we rebounded well, but we didn't finish enough. I would say that's one thing we need to work on going forward."