NHIAA D-II Girls' Basketball: Cavaliers return to title gameBy ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 07. 2018 12:17AM
MANCHESTER — Once the Hollis/Brookline High School girls’ basketball team wrestled the lead away from Hanover in Tuesday night’s Division II semifinals, the Cavaliers didn’t let that lead get away.
Third-seeded Hollis/Brookline didn’t go in front until the final minute of the first quarter, but the Cavaliers didn’t allow seventh-seeded Hanover to generate any serious momentum in the final three quarters and extended their season with a 52-37 victory at Southern New Hampshire University.
Hanover led 9-4 midway through the opening quarter, but Hollis/Brookline (19-2) ended the quarter with a 6-0 run and had a 10-9 advantage after eight minutes. The Cavaliers were up 24-18 at the half and 39-28 after three quarters. Hanover didn’t get closer than 10 points in the final eight minutes.
“In the first quarter we were getting our nerves out and once we took the lead we weren’t nervous anymore and then we were able to play our own game,” Hollis/Brookline guard Joanna Balsamo said. “Getting rid of the nerves — that was huge.”
Hollis/Brookline, which lost to Lebanon in last year’s Division II championship game, received a game-high 18 points from junior guard Brodie Kelley, who also had a game-high seven steals. Balsamo finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Twelve of those rebounds came at the defensive end.
Hollis/Brookline will face either No. 13 John Stark of Weare, which upset No. 8 Bishop Brady of Concord 47-44 in Tuesday’s late game, in Friday’s Division II championship game at SNHU (7 p.m.).
Once Hollis/Brookline was ahead on the scoreboard the Cavaliers were content to sit in what was a very effective 2-3 zone. Junior guard Lois Schwartz led the Marauders (15-6) with 13 points, but no one else scored in double figures. Bella Bardales scored eight and Maddie McCorkle finished with five. McCorkle reached double figures in 13 of Hanover’s previous 20 games.
Hanover’s Frances Taylor led her team with 13 rebounds.
“The first five minutes we were awesome,” Hanover coach Dan O’Rourke said. “We just never got in a groove (after that). We missed a lot of shots in the paint, probably from 10 or 15 feet away. We could just never get in a flow. If we could have made two or three shots in a row and got a little momentum going I think we could have got back in the game, but we were trading baskets.
“Kudos to them. They played well. They’re a seasoned team.”
It was the second time Hollis/Brookline beat Hanover this season. The Cavaliers prevailed 46-28 in Hanover in January.
Hollis/Brookline coach Bob Murphy said he has a deeper team this year than the one that advanced to last year’s Division II title game.
“It feels great,” Murphy said when asked how it felt to earn another berth in the championship game. “When we left here last year that was the game plan. We wanted to get another chance to be in that big game.”
John Stark 47, Bishop Brady 44: A balanced scoring attack propelled the Generals past the Green Giants. John Stark received 12 points from Arianna Maxwell, eight from Chelsea Woodsum, eight from Jillian Douzanis and seven from Laura Martin.
Eighth-seeded Bishop Brady missed 27 of of its 31 3-point attempts in the game. John Stark limited Cornell-bound Sam Will to 12 points. Will, who scored 21 points when Bishop Brady upset top-seeded Portsmouth in the quarterfinals, finished with a game-high 15 rebounds.
John Stark led 13-6 after one quarter, 23-17 at halftime and 37-26 entering the third. Autumn Nelson had six points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Generals, who also received six points from Emily Patten.
Bishop Brady shot 15.4 percent from the field in the first half (5 of 33). The Green Giants beat the Generals 63-40 when the teams met last month in Concord.
John Stark’s other tourney wins came against fourth-seeded Pelham (43-41) and fifth-seeded Kennett (48-36).