Portsmouth. Lebanon advance to Div. II girls' basketball final
Portsmouth players celebrate their win over Windham Monday night at Southern New Hampshire University. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)
"It was starting to get annoying. That's the first time our seniors have beaten them. We'd lost to them five times," said Brown, who also grabbed 11 rebounds as Portsmouth dominated the paint.
The No. 2 Clippers (18-3) face top-ranked Lebanon in Friday's championship at 7 p.m. here at Southern New Hampshire University. Lebanon beat Milford, 56-41, in Monday night's late game.
The No. 3 Jaguars, led by Amanda Scheibel's 13 points, finished at 16-5.
Portsmouth and Windham reached the semis with contrasting styles. The Clippers, led by the 6-foot-3 Brown, prefer halfcourt sets and a deliberate attack.
Windham would rather run and gun with guards Clairee Putman and Amanda and Kelsey Schiebel, who led the Clippers to a 59-55 regular-season win for Windham.
It was tall vs. short at the SNHU Fieldhouse - and tall won big.
Six-footer Devon Parker scored 15 points for the Clippers, who attempted only one 3-pointer (Phoebe Collins, a miss). The Jaguars launched 20 triples and made four, including three makes by Amanda Scheibel.
Brown had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half, leading the Clippers to a 27-11 lead at intermission. Windham suffered through a worst-case scenario in the first half, shooting 3-for-21 from the floor. Putman and Kelsey Schiebel combined to shoot 1-for-12 in the first half, and the Jaguars never recovered.
"For whatever reason, we came out in the first half and were tentative. I don't know if it was the different atmosphere or the big game. We got better in the second half and did the things we're capable of doing, but it was too late," Windham coach Joe Mason said.
Three minutes into the third quarter, a Christina Jones bucket gave the Clippers an eyebrow-raising 33-13 lead. Windham put together an 8-0 and trimmed the deficit to 33-21, but Brown ended the third quarter by swishing an 8-footer in the paint.
The Jaguars made another run in the fourth quarter and came within six points (45-39) on Brianna Angelini's conventional three-point play. Putnam split the defense for a layup and made it 45-41 with 1:14 remaining before Windham simply ran out of time. Bernadette Connors scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half as Windham outscored the Clips, 30-20.
If the game had lasted another couple minutes, the Jags might've completed an improbable comeback. But here in the NHIAA Final Four, you've got to play a complete game.
"At halftime, we talked about attacking, and we were able to do that," Mason said. "The plays weren't called any differently in the first half. We just executed much better in the second half."
The Portsmouth girls reached a championship for the first time since 2000. That year, the Clippers dropped a then-Class L final against Nashua, 70-33. Lebanon returns to the Division II final for the second time in three years.
Lebanon 56, Milford 41
Division II juggernaut Lebanon won its 23rd overall game, pounding Milford, 56-41, in the late semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University on Monday.
The top-ranked Raiders, now 21-0 in division play, are favored to win their first girls' basketball title since 2007. Moriah Morton scored 15 points, while Emily Kehoe and Sam MacDonald each had 12 points to pace Lebanon. Dina Pitsas scored a dozen to lead No. 4 Milford (15-6), which gave the Raiders their closest game of the season. Lebanon had won every game by at least 23 points entering the tournament.