In our Division II girls basketball preview article last week I wrote how Souhegan was the clear cut favorite to repeat as champs this season. And why not? They return the state's best player in Bentley recruit Jane White and 4 other girls who all got BIG minutes for a team that went undefeated. However it was the young, up and coming Bedford girls who came away with an impressive win to end the Saber's 22 game winning streak. The Bulldogs came away with a win over Souhegan on Tuesday night in Bedford.
"They played with a lot of heart" said Sue Thomas, who was coaching her first ever game as Bedford's head coach after taking over for Scott Sarsfields. "We had 4 sophomores and a junior in there at the end of the game but they did a great job of playing with poise and playing together."
It was truly a team effort for the Bulldogs, who played tough, unselfish basketball. They started 4 sophomores and 2 other sophomores came off the bench. 6'1" forward McKenzie Brown had 11 points and 10 rebounds, 5'10" forward Haley Driscoll had 8 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way, while junior guards Maggie McGown and Ashley Abad hit some clutch shots down the stretch.
Although White did score a game-high 14 points, she really had to work for everything she got and she ended up fouling out with 55.6 seconds left and her team trailing by 6 points. Bedford did a nice job defensively and also rebounding the basketball to hold the Sabers to 1 shot most of the time.
"They just wanted it more" said Souhegan head coach Jeremy Faulkner. "They capitalized on our mistakes but we didn't capitalize on theirs. We did not give them our best game, but Bedford deserved the win."
Not only did Brown and Driscoll do a lot of damage in the paint, but they are sophomores who went up against a pair of 6'0" seniors for Souhegan in Ceara McNamara and Tori Forrest. In addition to Driscoll and Brown, the rest of the talented sophomore class for Bedford includes Ali Glennon and Rachel Collins (both starters) plus guards Bailey Marshall and Caroline Conrad coming off the bench.
"They don't play like sophomores because a lot of those girls play national AAU ball" said Coach Faulkner. "They play all year round."
Bedford led this game for nearly the entire way. White (who also had 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 3 assists) hit a big three-pointer to cut the Bulldogs lead to 35-30 with 4:23 left to play, but that's close as they would get. Bedford was able to get the necessary stops and made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. With under a minute left and Souhegan pressing on defense they were able to break the press and Brown converted an and-1 basket which sealed the win.
It's going to be a VERY fun year in girls D-II, with Bedford, Souhegan, Lebanon, Hollis-Brookline and Windham all having a shot at the title. Any game involving those teams will be a battle, just like tonight's game was.