Six months ago everyone had the Lebanon Raiders girls basketball team as the preseason favorite to win Division 2. Some people would argue that they may be the best team in the state. To every one's surprise two of the Raider senior veteran players made the decision not to come back and play their senior season.
Trina Scheie, Moriah Morton, Taylor Friedman, and Emily Kehoe have played basketball with each other since the 4th grade. As 8th graders they were AAU State Champions beating a team made of the core players from last year's D1 defending champion Bishop Guertin Cardinals.
This team was going to dominate Division 2 with no other real contenders in their path. When the news got out that Scheie and Friedman were going to pass up their senior season to pursue other sports the rest of the division had to feel that the Raiders have left the door open for someone to knock off every one's preseason favorite. The Raiders opened their season on the road against a very physical veteran Merrimack Valley Pride team. This Pride team was going to be a measuring stick on how far the Raiders have backed up to the pack.
Coach Tim Kehoe's team sent the message that the Raiders may have lost 2 potential all-state players but they have kids who are ready to step right in and continue the all out pressing style that have made the Raiders one of the most successful girls programs in the state over the last 10 years. Junior guard Samantha MacDonald Vanessa Fleury stepped right in and filled some big shoes making key contributions in a one sided 57-32 win for the Raiders at Merrimack Valley.
"Samantha did a great job in the press" said Kehoe.
If you are going to start for coach Kehoe you better know how to play defense and go all out playing his full court pressure defense. MacDonald, Emily Kehoe, Moriah Morton, and Heather King totally smothered the Pride starting the game with a 11-0 run. The Raiders jump on you right from the get go and they don't letup. The Raiders were up 19-9 after one quarter.
Offensively in that quarter they were led by Moriah Morton's 7 pts. and Heather King's 6. Morton is well known as one of the best players in the state but King has flown under the radar and is on the doorstep of a break out season. At 5'11' and a long, athletic build she is a natural 3 who can hit the 15 foot jumper and can rip through and finish at the rim. She also showed some range with a 3-pointer, something that wasn't in her game last year. With a college scout in the stands Heather impressed, finishing with a team high 18 pts.
Lebanon's 'Big 3' is Morton, Kehoe, and King. King was the star of the night but Kehoe was solid, scoring 14 pts. and Morton chipped in 12. Morton does so much on the court that doesn't show up in the score book but there will be some big nights scoring from Moriah before this season is over.
Merrimack Valley fought back in the 2nd quarter. The Pride has a very big, strong inside game. Becca Donovan is a shot blocking center who makes it difficult for any team to penetrate the middle. Donovan had 13 rebounds and 6 blocks to go along with her 6 pts. Molly Mullen is a real blue collar hard working forward who doesn't mind getting inside and doing the dirty work. Molly had 11 hard earned pts and 6 rebounds.
MV is going to win a lot of games this season with their inside play but against Lebanon they committed a total of 36 turnovers which enabled the Raiders to get many easy baskets off those turnovers. The Raiders were up 36-21 at half kept the defensive pressure on in the 3rd quarter, not allowing MV to cut into their lead. The Pride was limited to just 11 points in the 2nd half. They did get a nice effort off the bench in the 2nd half by Emily Mullvey, displaying good hustle while scoring 4 pts.
It's only one game into this year's girls season and there is a lot of basketball yet to be played. The road may not come as easy as it could have been but come the first week in March I feel confident that the Raiders of Lebanon will be back with their annual appearance at Southern New Hampshire University.