On Monday night at SNHU, the Portsmouth High girls basketball team switched up their defenses, using a couple of different zones which gave Windham fits. In the 2nd half the half though the Baguars were able to pick up the pace of the game, force some turnovers, get some fast-break layups and find some holes in the Clipper's zone. Unfortunately for Windham though, they dug themselves too big of a hole to come back from, as Portsmouth went up 29-11 in the 3rd quarter.
"We started out in a diamond and 1 on #13 (Clairee Putnam" explained Portsmouth head coach Dan Parr. "Then we swithed it to #10 (Kelsey Schiebel). Then when #14 (Amanda Schiebel) started hitting shots we switched to a 2-3. I thought the zone was working really well."
Between the strong defense and inside scoring of Alicia Brown (19 points and 13 rebounds), Devon Parker (15 points) and Christina Jones (10 points), Portsmouth went up by 18 a couple of times in the 3rd quarter when it was 29-11 and then 31-13. Windham started to get some momentum going late in the 3rd quarter with a couple of fast-break layups, but still trailed 35-21 headed to the 4th.
To come back from down 18 in the 2nd half would have been a remarkable achievement for Windham. But unfortunately their comeback bid fell just a little short. The Jaguars were were able to cut the Portsmouth lead to 45-41 with 1:14 left in the game thanks to a 18-8 run. Windham was finally getting into a rhythm as Bri Angelini converted a put-back, Bernadette Connors connected on a 15-footer and Putnam made a 2 FT's after a strong drive to the hoop.
"We were doing the same plays as we were in the 1st half, the only difference was (in the 2nd half) the kids made an effort to attack the zone and not be passive" said Windham head coach Joe Mason.
The 6-foot-3 Brown was a big factor in this game. She was a force on the boards, was just too big and skilled for the for the Jaguars to handle inside and she also stepped outside and hit the outside shot.
"It was Alicia's best game of the year" said Coach Parr. "Sometimes I restrict her by keeping her inside all the time, but she can hit the outside shot too and has a lot of confidence in it. She's a really nice kid."
Windham was creeping back in the game late, but every time they got the score a little closer Brown came up with another bucket to answer back. She scored right off the bat in the 3rd quarter on the low block to make it 29-11 Portsmouth. Later in the 3rd quarter when Windham got a run going and got some transition hoops, and Kelsey Schiebel hit an 18-footer to cut the lead to 33-21, Brown answered right back with a smooth turn-and-shoot from just inside the foul line to end the Jaguar's run.
"The first time we played them we got Brown in foul trouble" said Coach Mason. "We were attacking her. Tonight Clairee went to the hoop a couple times early, the calls didn't go our way and then from there we just started getting passive. We were just passing it around and shooting 3's."
Then in the beginning of the 4th quarter Amanda Schiebel drilled a jumper from 17 feet away to once again cut the Clippers' lead to 12, 35-23. But again, Brown answered right back, hitting an 18-footer of her own. That's pretty impressive range for a 6-foot-3 kid.
"The way we played in the beginning of the season I never would have thought we'd make it this far" said Brown, who will be playing her college ball at the University of New England. "I think we played excellent defense in the 1st half. We did a great job to get a good lead, and in the 2nd half they came at us hard and we had to keep our cool."
Later in the 4th, Amanda Shiebel hit another 3-pointer (she had a team-high 13 points), followed by 2 quick layups on the break by Putnam. That cut the Portsmouth lead to 43-36 with 2:15 left. But then again Brown answered back, this time hitting s shot from 12 feet away.
Windham just kept fighting though, as Angelini made a tough and-1 finish. Then Putnam made a great drive, using a euro-step move to get to the rim and get around Brown defending her for a nifty scoop shot. That cut the lead to 45-41 with 1:14 left.
"I'm proud of the girls and their dedication" said Mason. "Our seniors Bernadette and the Schiebels, along with our seniors last year and this year's juniors are the ones who built this program. I always talk about doing the little things and they boought in. If it wasn't for bernadette's unselfishness we wouldn't have gotten here."
Unfortunately for Windham that was as close as they would get at the end, as they had a couple of costly turnovers late in the game and Portsmouth tacked on a couple of free throws to account for the 47-41 final. Also playing well for the Clippers was Phoebe Collins and Tighe Loche, who provided steady play in the back court.