Division III, IV girls ready to take basketball court
It's "Final Four" time in the Division III and IV girls' basketball tournaments.
Today at Plymouth State University, semifinal games in the Division IV tournament find third-ranked Colebrook (17-3) playing second-seeded Sunapee (18-2) at 5:30 p.m. and top-ranked Hinsdale (20-0) meeting fourth-ranked Groveton (16-4) at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday at Southern New Hampshire University, the Division III semifinal games are second-ranked Bow (19-1) playing third-ranked Bishop Brady of Concord (18-2) at 6 p.m. and top-ranked Conant of Jaffrey (19-1) encountering fourth-ranked White Mountains Regional of Whitefield (17-3) at 8 p.m.
In Division IV, both match-ups pit teams that didn't face each other during the regular season.
Colebrook beat Nute 75-31 and Newmarket 68-64 earlier in the tournament while Sunapee advanced with victories against Lisbon (56-22) and Littleton (58-49). Unbeaten Hinsdale cruised past Epping 46-16 in the first round and was tested against Woodsville, 39-34, in the quarterfinals. Groveton upended Gorham (49-26) and Pittsfield (41-30) in tournament play.
Over in Division III, Bishop Brady and Bow split their regular-season games. The Green Giants won the first game at home, 43-24 on Nov. 30 and Bow returned the favor with a 42-27 home win on Feb. 1.
White Mountains is the Division III defending state champion. The Spartans did not play Conant during the regular season. White Mountains had tough time in the preliminary round, beating Fall Mountain, 41-39. In the semis, White Mountains thumped Gilford, 46-14.
In the quarterfinals, Kaitlin Wood of White Mountains set a tournament record with seven three-pointers and finished with 23 points.
White Mountains head coach Gary Jenness, the first girls' basketball coach in the state to reach 600 career wins, led Groveton to 11 state titles and two runner-up crowns in 28 years. In his last three seasons at White Mountains, Jenness has led the Spartans to three straight semifinal tournament appearances.
Four returning players - Wood, Payton Curtis, Chelsea Payer and Olivia Conway - saw significant playing time when the Spartans won the state title last season. Payer leads her team in every statistical category but scoring.
"Many people at the beginning of the season didn't think we'd be very good this season," said Jenness. "We have depth and I'm comfortable playing eight or nine girls every game."
Jenness lauded Conant freshman guard Madison Springfield, younger sister of 1,000-point scorer Brooke Springfield, now a sophomore guard playing for Southern New Hampshire University.
"She's a very good guard who runs the show, so we have to pay attention to her," said Jenness of Madison Springfield.