In the first game of a much anticipated girls/boys doubleheader, the Tillton School girls basketball team defeated Phillips Exeter 56-42. Exeter played zone all game, and Tilton made them pay by hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Alex Cohen (Nashua, NH) was on fire from the outside in the 1st half and finished with 14 points. Senior forward Abby Iannotti dominated the paint with 21 points and double digit rebounds.
Tilton went on a 12-0 run in the 1st half to go up 24-6 after a 3-pointer by Cohen (committed to Manhattan College). That turned out to be simply too big of a deficit for Exeter to come back from. It was 35-17 Tilton at halftime. Exeter made it a little more respectable in the 2nd half, closing to within 13 points but the outcome of the game was never in doubt during the 2nd half.
During that 1st half run, Cohen and her teammates were raining threes. I couldn't help but wonder why Exeter didn't come out of the zone.
"Most teams can't guard us man-to-man" said Tilton head coach Tara Brisson. "Especially our point guard Guilia Orlando is really tough to guard off the dribble."
Cohen is one of the better shooters in New England. In addition to shooting from the outside, she also had some great dribble-drive moves, she is fundamentally sound, has a high basketball I.Q. and is also an underrated passer.
In addition to Cohen, Tilton also got sharp shooting from Jillian Fama. After a three by Fama it was 30-12 Tilton and the Rams' sgtudent section really started to get into the game cheering their team on.
Exeter was led by junior guard Nicole Heavirland with 21 points. Heavirland dropped 32 points against New Hampton last week. In this game though she forced a lot of shots.
Tilton had Cohen, and the standout local player for Phillips Exeter was freshman guard Peace Kabari. Kabari did most of her damage in the 2nd half, finishing with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. She had some explosive drives to the rim and showed the ability to go coast-to-coast with the basketball, blowing past all five Tilton defenders on her way to the basket.
Tilton though was just a quicker, deeper, more talented team. Thy moved the ball well against the Exeter zone, going 4 out, 1 in. They worked it around the perimeter and inside to Ianotti and Kelsey Brown (Durham, NH) and then bac out to their shooters.
The Rams got some more shots to fall in the 2nd half, building their largest lead of 43-21 with 6:00 left in the game. Tilton then started to rest some of their starters, but Exeter kept on fighting. Kabari (Manchester, NH) and Heavirland started to heat up offensively, and Courtney Henrich (Candia, NH) was playing tough defense. They were able to cut the lead down to 13, 53-40 but that is as close as they could get.
The Tilton girls are certainly one of the top girls prep school teams in New England this season.