There's a new champion in Division III girls basketball. Conant beat Campbell in last year's title game. Conant had everyone back from their title team, Campbell had everyone back from their runner-up team. Yet this season it was a different story. Campbell beat Conant 3 times this season (2 of them convincingly), with the third time coming on Saturday night in the championship game at Southern New Hampshire University.
Behind a game-high 21 points and 6 rebounds from junior forward Becca Arnone, the Cougars started out the game on a 17-0 run. Conant was able to cut the Conant lead to 5 late, but Campbell held on and won it 42-33.
Strong Start for Campbell Was Difference
Campbell led 17-0 early on in this game. It wasn't until 1:30 was left in the 1st quarter until Conant finally scored. The Cougars led 32-14 at halftime. How'd they do it? Terrific defense, including a defensive strategy where Campbell only defended 4 players on Conant's team (Brooke Springfield, Kim Daniels, Holly Hodgman and Teresa DiTammaso). Conant played 4 other girls, but anytime any of those players was in the game Campbell didn't guard them. They just left them wide open at all times, double and triple-teaming Springfield anytime she had the basketball. Springfield was held to 14 points on the game.
"It's hard to score when you're double and triple teamed all game" said Springfield after the game. We've played against them so much, so Campbell knows all of my moves and they know where I'm going all the time. "In the beginning of the game they were making all of their shots and we couldn't seem to make anything."
Leading the way offensively for Campbell was Arnone, along with the other 2 members of the Cougars 'Big 3', Kristen Hrubowchak and Liz Pettis. All 3 players scored in double figures. Conant was playing a 2-3 zone for the majority of the 1st half. Campbell was ready for it, as they moved the ball nicely inside and out, creating open looks all over the floor. And the Cougars were not missing on their open looks. Their 'Big 3' were all on fire in the 1st half.
Different Story in 2nd Half
Conant really did a nice job of picking up their defensive intensity in the 2nd half to try and get back in the game. Kim Daniels in particular did an excellent job of putting in the extra effort, getting into the passing lanes and making plays. Campbell had over 10 turnovers in the 2nd half, as Conant slowly got back in the game. In the first 11 minutes of the 2nd half, Campbell only scored 2 points. Conant was on a 15-2 run, and with 6 minutes left to play they were only down 34-29.
Hodgman had a couple of big buckets, and Springfield did a nice job of handling and distributing the basketball. Maddy Chadbourne hit a shot from in close as part of the run as well. Campbell seemed to get a little complacent, and struggled with the defensive pressure of Conant. This also would have likely been a different game if Pettis was healthy for Campbell, but she has been playing with a torn meniscus.
The Cougars were able to hold on to the lead though, and the 5 point deficit would be as close as the Orioles would come. Conant was still in the game, only down 7 with about 3 minutes left. Then Arnone continued her strong play by knocking down a BIG three-pointer to push the lead back up to 10.
End of an Amazing Career
"Words can't describe what Brooke has meant to this team, or how blessed I feel to have been able to coach her" said Conant head coach Nick Hill. "She's a great kid too."
Brooke Springfield is one of the best players NH has seen in recent years. Some of the accomplishments during her legendary career include: 1,000 point scorer and all-time leading scorer in Conant basketball history, Class M Player of the Year twice (and if she doesn't win D-III Player of the Year this season it will be the shocker of the century), she led Conant to Class M state titles as a freshman and as a junior and in her other 2 seasons she led the Orioles to the title game. She has been an all-state player all 4 years. Springfield is headed to Southern New Hampshire University to continue her basketball career. SNHU is a Division II program, but they are getting a Division I caliber player in Springfield.
"I am most proud of the 2 state championships" said Springfield. And also that we were able to make it to the semi-finals all 4 years. A lot of girls never make it here, so I am proud that we did it 4 times."
Hrubowchak Ends Career on Top
Springfield isn't the only 1,000 point scorer who ended her career in this game. Senior guard Kristen Hrubowchak turned in another outstanding performance in the final. She had 11 points and also played some great defense. She hit 3 big threes in the 1st half which really got Campbell rolling. Hrubowchak is another player who is among the better players Division III (Class M) has seen in recent years. She will continue her playing career at Plymouth State University next season.
Campbell = Next Year's Favorite
They graduate Hrubbowchak, and they also graduate 4 of their top 6 players. But next season Campbell will have the 2 best players in D-III in Arnone and Pettis.