By: Ross Laorenza
The Bow Falcons defeated the defending champion, White Mountain Region High School Spartans tonight, in an epic defensive battle between #2 and #4 seeds in the NHIAA Girls Division-III basketball tournament. Final score: 29-17.
Yes, you read right; both teams were held to under 30 points tonight. It is very hard for a shooter to get in rhythm when they are under constant pressure. Add to the equation the nerves of a championship game and a very vocal crowd like the one tonight and you start to understand why this was not a very high scoring affair.
The gymnasium at SNHU was packed with friends, family and pep bands for both teams. Starters for Bow were (#5) Ashlie Tucker, (#11) Kirsten Bresson, (#15) Lindsey Nerbonne, (#35) Suzanne Barry and (#40) Dina Tischofer. Starters for White Mountain Regional were (#2) Katie Wood, (#4) Payton Curtis, (#12) Chelsea Payer, (#15) Kayla Bosse and (#23) Olivia Conway.
The first points in tonight’s game went to senior Chelsea Payer, of White Mountains Regional. The Lady Spartan had an impressive drive to the basket; got fouled and still the shot fell. She converted the foul-shot to give her team an early 3-0 lead.
On a night when scoring came at a premium all of the points mattered. Momentum seemed to be on the side of the Spartans early. They led 5-2 until (#10) Taylor Marston knocked down a 3-pointer for Bow, that tied the game 5-5. Lindsey Nerbonne(#15) sank a three of her own with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter that put Bow up 8-5.
Traveling violations plagued both sides for the rest of the half. Neither team could get into a good offensive rhythm going. The only basket made in the second quarter came from the hands of Bow’s (#40) Dina Tischofer. Lindsey Nerbonne added a free throw later in the quarter. Bow lead going into the half 11-7.
I was in awe as I checked in with the official scorer at half-time to make sure I was seeing such a low score. Great defense by both teams made every shot tough to fall.
Echoes from the pep bands and fans cheering rang off the walls as the girls for both squads took to the court for the second half. The Spartans came out with a ton of energy, but still had trouble putting points on the board. They had numerous possessions of great passing and ball movement, but no points to show for them.
With 3:31 remaining in the 3rd quarter Kirsten Bresson(#11) hit a long 2-pointer for Bow that made the score 13-8 in favor of Bow. The Falcons went on an 6-3 run after that and closed the third quarter leading 19-11.
Lindsey Nerbonne scored quickly for Bow in the first minute of the 4th, making their lead 10 points. Cheers began to get louder and louder from the bleachers, as fans soon realized the game was in its’ final stage. Nerboone hit again a little over a minute later. Score now: 23-13.
Katie Wood(#2) sank two free throws with 6:13 remaining for the Spartans to cut the lead back to eight. After several back and forth trips up the court came up empty, Suzanne Barry (#35) hit a two for Bow to put the lead back up to 12 points.
As time slowly ticked off the clock it defense pressure increased even more by White Mountain Regional. You could see the sense of urgency in the way they tried to steal cross court passes. Max effort was being exhibited by all players on the floor two win the Championship. Free-throw shooting reigned supreme as the game came to a close. Still holding onto a 12 point lead with just over 1:30 remaining Bow took control of the pace of the game.
They kept constant offensive pressure on the Spartan defense, which led to some of the free throws I just spoke of. Even though Bow only went 4 of 11 from the line in those final 90 seconds, it did not matter. The Spartans did not fare much better.
The Bow Falcons won the game with a final score of 29-17. Lindsey Nerbonne led all scorers in the game with 9 points. Her teammate Taylor Marston finished with 6 points.
I’d like to congratulate both squads on an excellent season. It is always a pleasure watching such talented student athletes. Win or lose; you can always say you played on a tremendous team, with great coaches and had fans that were there supported you the whole way through. Best of luck to all of you in your future endeavors.
From Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook.