Thursday, December 15, 2011

Memorial Girls Crush Keene

The Manchester Memorial girls basketball team showed why they're one of the top 4 teams in Division I with a convincing 52-23 win over Keene on Thursday night at Memorial High.

Keene actually led this game 11-9 after the 1st quarter, with 5'10" senior Ashley Clough scoring 8 of those 11 points. But from the 2nd quarter on it was all Crusaders, who outscored the Blackbirds 16-0 in the 3rd quarter.

"It took us a little while to get going" said Memorial head coach Jack Quirk. "We have 3 freshmen who get playing time, but then we started to make adjustments and forced some turnovers and got easy baskets off them."

Memorial has a starting 5 that can play with anyone, and when all 5 of them are clicking they are a scary team. From the 2nd quarter on they weren't just clicking, they were dominating.

5'11" senior Amra Elezovic (committed to UMass Lowell) scored a game high 14 points. She's a very tough match up since she can get to the rim off the dribble or hit the outside shot. On this night her outside shot wasn't falling, but she was able to slash to the basket and finish through contact at will. When she got into the paint Elezovic often drew double teams and was able to make some nice passes to the open teammate.

Speaking of nice passes, nobody made more of them in this game than Crusaders junior point guard Allie Hartford. Hartford had 6 assists, to go with 4 rebounds, 3 points and 3 steals. She knows how to set up teammates for open shots and made a number of terrific dishes in this game.

"Allie had a great game" said Coach Quirk. "She knows when to drive and when to pass and it's like having another coach out there."

Freshman sensation Peace Kabari displayed some unreal athleticism, making some shifty moves to the rim and showing leaping ability that made you do a double take. The 5'6" Kabari had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals in just her third varsity game. 5'8" junior forward Danielle Fletcher was tough on the boards and also made some nice baskets inside, while senior wing player Ari Dimou also played well.

Keene simply couldn't match the speed, aggressiveness and play making ability of Memorial. The Blackbirds scored just 4 points in the 2nd quarter and 0 points in the 3rd. Clough was held in check after the 1st quarter, and one of their other leading scorers sophomore forward Allison Yeaw was in foul trouble for much of the game and never got it going. Late in the 2nd quarter and into the 3rd their main problem was turnovers. They didn't have an answer for Memorial's pressure defense.

"Turnovers were a big problem for us" said Keene head coach Eric Matte. "I'm sure everyone we play is going to be pressing us now. But this wasn't our best game, I expect this group to get a lot better as the season goes on."

Memorial might not be the deepest team, but they all 5 of their starters are very quick and all 5 are capable of scoring in double figures on any given night. The Crusaders are now 3-0 on the season.

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