By: Tuesday and Friday
Bedford, the new Ladies on the D1 basketball block, used an 18 point performance by McKenzie Brown (Their biggest player) and 10 points by Brianna Purcell (Their smallest player) to defeat a very tough Alvirne team in a quarterfinal game played at Bedford High. Bedford will play Winnacunnet this Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the semi-finals at SNHU. Bedford was definitely favored going into this game as they had defeated Alvirne by 17 points back in January.
The final margin of this game is not indicative of how tough the Lady Broncos played Bedford in this game. This game was in doubt for the first 28 minutes of this game. "We took a good shot from Alvirne tonight. I give them a lot of credit", said Bedford coach Sue Thomas.
Alvirne had a good start in this one by securing a 14 to 11 lead after the first quarter. Alvirne point guard Sandi Purcell paced the Broncos with 6 points in the opening quarter. This 5'3 ball of energy stirs the Bronco basketball drink rather nicely. She controlled the tempo against the bigger Bulldogs and got her team mates to toe the playoff line early. Veronica Moceri chipped in with a 3 and numerous battles won on the boards. 5'8 junior Rachel Collins had 6 points in a very active 1st quarter to lead Bedford.
The Bedford bench became a factor in the 2nd quarter. Freshmen Nicole Tucci and Brianna Purcell combined for 6 points to help Bedford outscore Alvirne in the 2nd quarter 12 to 9. Sue Thomas said, "Nicole and Brianna start the game on the bench and sense what type of game it is. They know exactly what to do when they enter the game." Purcell is a 5'4 freshman, who upon initial inspection, looks like she went to the wrong court. Varsity game? Shouldn't she be playing in a Jr High game at the Lurgio Court? No Way. This lithe little package of basketball energy moves quickly while slashing to the hoop, making steals and diving after loose balls. No more Lurgio games for her !!! "She has a way of livening up the game", Coach Thomas added.
The teams were tied at the half at 23. The one thing that became a factor in the first half was Bedford's longer bench. Alvirne coach Steve Tracy said, "Their longer bench definitely an advantage for them. We got tired in the 2nd half." McKenzie Brown had a great 3rd quarter. The 6'1 Junior ran the floor better than any Big. She scored 10 points including 2 baskets on break aways. it was amazing to see the biggest player on the court running ahead of every one else. "The great thing about our Bigs is that not only can they rebound well, but they can start and finish a fast break for us. That is such a huge advantage for us", Coach Thomas said.
With 2:14 left in the 3rd Brianna Purcell stole the ball at half court and finished a drive to give Bedford their biggest lead of the game at 35 to 27. Alvirne closed the gap to 5 at the end of the 3rd quarter, but you could sense Alvirne was getting tired and Bedford was picking up their step. Bedford's "Not Going Back to Lurgio" Purcell finished a dribble drive with 5:10 left in the game to give Bedford a 39 to 32 lead. 2 Ali Glennon FTs made it 41 to 32 with 3;50 left. "I like to call it Mental Maturity', Alvirne coach Steve Tracy said. "Bedford has much more mental maturity and in a game like this when they use 2 to 3 minutes of that, they can go on a run which puts us in a hole."
A Haley Driscoll drive and finish made it 45 to 32 with 2;20 left and put the game out of reach for the Broncos. 5 different Bedford players scored in the 4th quarter. Fresher legs and a quite a few of them were the difference in the last stanza for Bedford. Coach Tracy said, "Bedford exploited our post. Their defense was excellent. We did give them a good game tonight. I'm proud of our effort. We went 7 - 11 last season and with the same group went 13 - 5 this season. We only graduate 1 senior. I'm looking forward to next year."
Sandi Purcell led Alvirne with 9 points. She is one tough player and is coming out of her older sister's shadow and legacy rather nicely. Veronica Moceri had a strong game for the Broncos with 7 points. Alvirne will be one of the top teams next season in D1.
When asked how Bedford will prepare for the Final four at SNHU Coach Sue Thomas said, "There's nothing special we will do. We will go over the fundamentals and the normal things we do in practice. We prepare for the games in practice. When it comes to game time I like to turn them loose." Bedford will be a very worthy final four opponent for Winnacunnet and any other team they might have the good fortune of playing. The Lady Bulldogs have size, slashers, length and depth. Oh and don't forget about a 5'4 girl named Purcell who won't be mistaken for the Lurgio Jr High court in Bedford any more.