DERRY — Lani Buskey was at a loss for words about her Pinkerton Academy girls’ basketball team’s effort in Thursday’s Division I showdown against Manchester Memorial. That mostly had to do with not knowing how to express her joy after the Astros pulled off a 58-50 comeback victory at Hackler Gym.
Darkness was settling in on Pinkerton as it trailed 48-32 midway through the third quarter. The Astros (13-1) somehow found inspiration despite their position and drummed up an improbable 26-2 finish to shock the Crusaders (12-2), who were held to just four points over the final 12 minutes of the game.
The defense fed Pinkerton’s offense, but especially in the case of Brooke Kane, who scored 16 of her game-high 28 points in the second half. Madison Mahoney added to the second-half frenzy with all nine of her points while Jesse Ames had 12 first-half points.
“I said at halftime that our offense is driven by our defense,” Buskey said. “When the defense isn’t working, like it wasn’t in the first half, you notice we’re forcing on offense. The second the defense worked out, we were relaxed, moving the ball and finding openings.”
The Astros left the paint unoccupied for much of the first half and into the third quarter, which allowed Memorial to get to the basket at will for easy lay-ins. Buskey said having Mahoney patrol the baseline for switches and step in to fully contest shots was the key to the defensive turnaround, forcing Memorial into turnovers and one-and-done opportunities.
“We had some mismatches that we tried to take advantage of, but started to get cute with it and turned it over,” Memorial coach Greg Cotreau said. The Crusaders turned the ball over 11 times in the second half. “I don’t know how many opportunities we missed at the rim in the second half too. We’d get an offensive rebound, put it back up and then send it over the backboard. We couldn’t finish.”
Jennessa Brunette dropped 19 points for Memorial, which staked itself to an early lead with a 15-0 spurt over five minutes between the first and second quarters.
Mahoney completed the Astros’ 16-point comeback with a three-point play to tie the game at 48-48 with 4:48 to play. That tying bucket came as part of a 22-0 Pinkerton run, which continued when Kane and Mahoney secured the a 54-48 lead with three minutes after the tie.
“They have Brooke Kane, a Division I college player, and we don’t,” Cotreau said. “We had them down, but not out. Brooke was going to come in and take the game over. We had to be ready and in help position. Instead of stepping in for charges, we decided to stunt or dig, which made it a layup drill for Brooke.”
Derryfield 50, Mascenic 45: In Manchester, Shawna Lesmeries went off for 21 points and Olivia Strong followed with 17 for the the Cougars (12-5). The Vikings (10-7) got 13 points from Julianna Tucci.
Londonderry 50, Dover 48: In Londonderry, the Lancers won their seventh straight with a team-leading 14 points from Ethan May while three others scored at least eight. Ty Vitko paced Dover (6-7) with 16 points, but had just three in the second half.
Oyster River 69, Kearsarge 53: In Durham, Joe Morrell and Kyle Landrigan starred for the Bobcats (11-1) with 30 and 28 points. Noah Tremblay posted 23 for Kearsarge (6-6).
Conant 61, Hopkinton 53: In Jaffrey, the Orioles got a trio of 14-point performances from Jake Drew, Peyton Springfield and Gavin Motuzas. Hopkinton slipped to 8-6.