NHIAA Girls' Basketball: Poised Bedford beats BGBy JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 16. 2018 11:44PM
BEDFORD — It was billed as a Division I girls’ basketball championship preview and Tuesday’s game between Bedford and Bishop Guertin certainly lived up to the billing.
In the only time they’ll meet before the playoffs and a potential third straight championship meeting, the Bulldogs found a way to get the upper hand with a 48-43 win at Bulldog Gymnasium. Alexa Dyer hit a trio of identical mid-range corner jumpers in big moments for Bedford (8-0) in the second half, when she scored all of her team-high 13 points.
“This was the first game Alexa started. She’s a senior and I know she’s wanted to, but we’ve been looking at things and planning,” Bedford coach Sue Thomas said. “She crashes the boards, gets every loose ball and has a nose for the ball that after our Salem game had me decide to change it up.
“She came down (in the second half), was calm and just found her shot. She knows to look and pass it off when it’s not there, but she was feeling it.”
A 7-0 Bedford run to end the third quarter was followed by a pair of Dyer’s jumpers to give the Bulldogs a double-digit lead early in the fourth. BG (5-4, but 5-1 against New Hampshire teams) answered with 11 straight points of its own from Bri Wilcox (six) and Hannah Muchemore (five) to knot things back up at 38-38 with three minutes to go. Dyer then struck with her final jumper and consecutive hook shots from Clare Driscoll made it 46-41 Bulldogs. Caroline Hoffer cut things to a one-possession game with a trey for BG inside the final minute but a Lizzy Stevenson block and free throws from Alli Morgan down the other end sealed the win for Bedford.
Driscoll and Morgan followed Dyer with nine and eight points, respectively. BG got 13 points from Wilcox and nine from Ava Owens.
The difference for Bedford came with simple shot selection. The Bulldogs have been notorious for slow starts in recent seasons and it looked to be happening again while down 14-7 in the first quarter. However, Bedford managed to respond with a 7-0 spurt to end the first in a 14-14 stalemate. Tough Bedford misses led to a 22-20 BG lead at halftime before the Bulldogs went back to basics with their offense over the final two quarters.
“We were not clicking and just missed a lot of gimmes and layups there in the first half,” Thomas said. “It all goes with BG picking up the pace and making you go faster than you want. At halftime we talked about taking your shot ... have nice form and try to slow down. … The shot selection was definitely better in the second half and they were down at the end of our bench (on offense) so I could yell at them a little more.”
Imperfections plagued Bedford, but not like they did BG. Free throws proved to be one problem for the Cardinals as they let an opportunity to pull away early slip by, going 2-for-7 from the stripe in the first half. BG finished 4-for-11 at the line overall, with key misses in the fourth while playing for leads and ties.
Neither team did particularly well valuing the basketball, but the Cardinals turned the ball over 20 times.
“Man, you know how to hurt a guy,” said BG coach Brad Kreick when he heard about his team’s turnover margin. “Their length bothered us a little bit, We have to take care of the ball against a good basketball team.”
BG’s issues with Bedford’s height advantage were exactly what Thomas was hoping for. The Cardinals settled for trying to pass through hands and traffic while not having prefered space to work within Bedford’s half-court zone defense.
“I think they may have been surprised we played zone the whole game and it’s probably the first game in my seven years as a coach that we’ve played a whole game in it,” Thomas said. “Where we have height, they have speed. They love to drive to the basket so we decided to zone them and have a back line to take it away. They were left to try and pass over us and I think it’s because they game-planned for man-to-man. I know I would’ve.”