Winnacunnet was definitely the underdog on Monday night when they went on the road to take on the defending champs from Bishop Guertin. However during the 1st half they played right with them, and only trailed 27-25 at halftime (behind 17 first half points from Melissa MacLeod).
But then the tables turned completely in the 3rd quarter. BG junior point guard Jamie Sherburne took over the game, dominating on both ends of the floor. She finished with 15 points, 7 steals and 6 assists. Much of that damage came in the 3rd quarter, when Guertin outscored the Warriors 19-5. They went on to win 59-41 and improve to 11-1 in regular seaqson play.
"Jamie Sherburne is the best player in the state" said Bishop Guertin head coach Scott Hazelton. "There, I said it. With what she does for us every game, she's the best player on the best team."
5 of Sherburne's 7 steals came in the 3rd quarter alone. She was getting steals and turning them into quick points on the other end.
"We all stepped up on defense" said Sherburne, who committed to Niagara University over the Christmas break. "We know they have a good press, so our game plan was to break their press and get layups."
That's exactly what BG did in that 3rd quarter. Winnacunnet turned the ball over 10 times in that quarter alone, with most of those being steals by either Sherburne or sophomore guard Megan Kerutis. Ketutis scored all 6 of her points in the 3rd quarter on some strong drives to the rim in transition. She also played a key role defensively.
"Kerutis did a great job on MacLeod" said Coach Hazelton. "We switched to put Kerutis on her in the 2nd half after MacLeod had 17 in the 1st half. She's tough, and can handle guarding bigger players."
MacLeod did put on quite a show in the 1st half though to keep Winnacunnet in the game. For a 6-footer she is very quick and agile, and has an explosive first step when driving to the basket. MacLeod can finish with either hand, as she showed on a coast-to-coast drive where she pushed the ball with her left hand all the way to the bucket and made an and-1 finish. She was also able to face up and knock down the 15-18 foot jumper. MacLeod ended the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
"She has been a strong layer every game for us" said Winnacunnet head coach Cassie Turcotte.
In the 2nd half though it was Sherburne who put on the show, with Kerutis shutting down MacLeod on 'D'. Right at the beginning of the 3rd quarter Sherburne drove to the basket and made a layup in traffic. Immediately after that she grabbed a steal and exploded to the rim for another layup. Then Kerutis made a pair of free throws, followed by another BG steal and Kerutis layup on the other end. It was a quick 11-2 run for Guertin to open up the 2nd half.
"We caught the snowball effect" lamented Coach Turcotte. "It was one error after another for us. We had too many turnovers, and then they got 20 fast break points in the 2nd half."
With BG focusing their defense on stopping MacLeod, it created more room for Warriors senior forward Carly Gould to operate in the paint. She made a strong drive and and-1 finish to cut the Cardinals' lead to 38-30. Gould (who will be attending and playing soccer at Brown next year) finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds). With MacLeod and Gould, Winnacunnet has 2 of the top dlayers in the division.
Just when it looked like maybe Winnacunnet was going to get back in the game BG reeled off an 8-0 run, and it was 46-30 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Sherburne and Kerutis had layups on the break. In the 4th quarter Sherburne continued to dominate the game. She had 2 more quick steals, which both led to Guertin scores. On the first one Nicole Hayner connected on a 3-pointer (she had a team-high 16 points with all of them coming on outside shots) and on the second one Sherburne made a great and-1 finish. It really had become the Jamie Sherburne show.
BG then opened up a 20 point lead and then pulled their starters. They were able to break the game open despite having star player Meghan Green on the bench for the whole 2nd half with an ankle injury (she had 8 points in the 1st half). Not only that, but the Cardinals were playing their second straight game without junior guard Gigi Piercy who has been out sick.
"Meghan has been playing great for us" said Hazelton. "I just didn't want to take the chance after she rolled her ankle there. It was good for the other girls to get a chance to play more. Paige Parkinson went in there and played well."
Also playing well for BG was senior wing Madison Gibbs, who chipped in with 7 points. Gibbs also rebounded and played tough 'D'.
BG pressed Winnacunnet full court all game. The Warriors did a solid job against it in the 1st half, and were able to get into their offense and get some good looks. In the 2nd half though the Guertin pressure got to them, as Sherburne made life difficult for Warriors point guard Maelan Castro. Sherburne played outstanding defense and on offense she made good decisions with the basketball and pushed the tempo. She was constantly creating good looks for herself and her teammates.
"With Meg sitting the 2nd half out we all stepped up, especially Paige" said Sherburne.
With the loss, Winnacunnet falls to 6-5 on the season. However they have played a pretty tough schedule so far, and will be favored in every one of their remaining regular season games (except for possibly the Alvirne game).