By Tuesday and Friday
The Memorial trio of Amra Elezovic, Allie Hartford and Peace Kabari combined for 40 points to lead the Crusaders to a convincing 66 to 28 quarterfinal victory over Pinkerton. Memorial raced out to an 11 - 2 first period lead. They held a 35 to 12 halftime lead and never looked back as they will now play Bishop Guertin in the 7:30 pm semi final game at SNHU on Wednesday March 7th.
One glaring stat stood out at the end of the first period as Memorial lead 11 - 2. Amra Elezovic hadn't scored. Now if I'm a Pinkerton fan I'm worried at this point. Freshman Peace Kabari lead Memorial with 7 first period points. Allie Hartford did a great job of running the offense for Memorial slashing to the hoop for a bucket and stretching out the Pinkerton defense with her dribble penetration. Memorial controlled the glass on the offensive and defensive ends. The Crusaders seemed to be a step ahead of every Astro.
Allie Hartford commented on Memorial's fast start. "We talked about losing to Pinkerton 2 years ago at their place in the quarterfinals. They had a fast start in that game and beat us by 40 points. We used that as motivation for our team tonight. We talked about jumping on them early and not repeating what happened to us two years ago at their gym."
Memorial then put on a tremendous display of team basketball in the 2nd period outscoring Pinkerton 24 to 10. Elezovic made her first hoop with 5:28 left in the 2nd period to give Memorial the 17 - 6 lead. Val Martin came off the Astro bench to give Pinkerton some much needed energy and offense. Elezovic and her fellow Crusaders started hitting on all cylinders as they hit the Astros with a fast paced offense and some very nice fast break finishes. Sophomore Amela Imamovic came off the Memorial bench to score 8 key points in the 2nd stanza. The highlight of the period was when Elezovic stole a Pinkerton pass in the Astro's offensive end and went on a full court fast break with fellow Bosnian Imamovic. Elezovic got the defense to commit and laid a perfect pass to Imamovic who converted and was fouled. Imamovic hit the FT to complete the Beautiful Bosnian Break. Elezovic had 4 great assists during the 2nd period Memorial onslaught. Peace Kabari added 6 points to Elezovic's 5 points to give memorial a 35 to 12 halftime lead.
Memorial coach Jack Quirk on the 2nd period 24 point effort: "When Amra is passing the ball like that and her teammates get open it becomes contagious how fluid we play on offense. When your best player is moving and passing and the rest of the team is moving and getting open it's a beautiful thing to watch."
Pinkerton just seemed a step slow and this continued in the 3rd period as Memorial outscored Pinkerton 16 to 8. Allie Hartford had 5 points in this period to go along with her great defense on Pinkerton sophomore Kayla Stacy. Hartford held Stacy scoreless with relentless defense all night. Stacy didn't take any outside shots as Hartford stuck to her like glue the whole game. Val Martin continued to play well off the Pinkerton bench as she scored 4 in the 3rd period. Elezovic really settled into her offensive game as she scored 7 points with a smooth stroke hitting 2 hoops and a 3.
The 4th period was played with the benches emptying. One stand out in the 4th period was Memorial freshman Makenah Grisson. She had 6 points and was strong in the paint. She finished with 9 points. She was coming off a 20 point performance against Timberlane in the prelim game victory by Memorial. Grisson along with Amela Imamovic helped combine in leading the Memorial bench to a 19 point output. "Tonight was probably the best over all performance by our bench this season", said Coach Quirk. "It's nice to see some scoring depth from our team as we head into the Final Four." Allie Hartford also said about the Memorial bench production, "I was so happy for them. Their scoring was so big for us tonight."
Peace Kabari finished with 16 points to finish as the game's high scorer. Kabari got open and Elezovic and Hartford found her with some nice assists. Elezovic finished with 14 points and had a triple double. Allie Hartford had a solid game running the show, playing good defense and finished with 10 points.
Allie Hartford said, "Our game plan was to push the ball on offense and get great movement." Coach Quirk agreed and added, "When we move the ball like we did tonight we are a tough team to defend." When asked about the semi final game with BG and if he matched up better with BG as opposed to Winnacunnet or Londonderry, Coach Quirk emphatically stated, "I'm not going to caught up in the game of words, but I will say this. If you go by comparative scores our closest loss was to BG out of those 3 teams."
Amra Elezovic talked about the fact her first score didn't come until after 10 minutes had passed in the game. "I wanted to set up my teammates with my passing. I really didn't feel I had to score early tonight. I wanted the rest of the team to get going. I think I did that with my passing. I think my team can execute better if I'm doing less dribbling and more passing. I was expecting a closer game tonight. We were ready to play and I really think it showed in the first half."
When I asked Amra about her feelings of playing her last game in the Memorial gym she got emotional and said, "Now, you're trying to make me cry. I did think about it today and tonight entering into this game that it would be my last game here. This is why I was so up for this game. I didn't want to lose my last game being played in the Memorial gym." When asked about what could her team do differently to turn the tables and get a win against BG in the semi finals, she said, ""We'll have a couple of surprises for BG on Wednesday."
Elezovic and Memorial were undefeated at 6 - 0 in playoff games at Memorial in her 4 year career. Memorial lost 47 - 44 to BG back on January 24th. Even though Elezovic had a good game that evening she tired in the 2nd half by missing a lot of shots. BG freshman Megan Kerutis played tough physical defense on Elezovic. A big key to the game will be the health of Kerutis. She suffered a concussion in the February 24th game against Winnacunnet.