The Bishop Guertin girls basketball team, trying to get back to the D-I finals for the third straight year, has gotten off to a 2-0 start with the wins coming against 2 of the top teams in the state (both were on the road too). On Thursday night they beat Salem who has their 3 best players back from a team that made the quarterfinals last year by double digits (49-38). Then on Friday night the Cardinals beat a tough Nashua North team that returns all-state guard Taylor Choate and a host of others.
It wasn't easy though - North made a furious 4th quarter comeback to turn this game from a rout into a nailbiter. After a jumper in the lane by junior guard Megan Kerutis (13 points) to start the 4th it was 38-24 BG. From there the Titans went on a 12-0 run, cutting the lead to just 2, 38-36 with 2:38 remaining.
"We're rebuilding" said Bishop Guertin first-year head coach Jeremy Faulkner. "We have 4 sophomores and 3 freshmen, and I'm new here also. We forced a little too much in the 4th, and North got back in it."
North also got back in it thanks to the sharp shooting of sophomore guard Sara Cordova, who dropped a team-high 17 points including 4 three-pointers. But BG got some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch from Kerutis, freshman forward Abby Field and Jamie Sherburne and held on for the 46-44 win. Sherburne finished with a team-high 17 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 1 block.
2 of North's top players, Choate and Dezi Okorie picked up early fouls.
"They were in foul trouble, so we were attacking" said Sherburne, who will be playing her college ball at Niagara University starting next year. "But then they went back in in the 4th quarter and got back in the game. We need to get better at ending games but we'll get there."
BG jumped out to a quick 10-2 to start the game led by Kerutis and Sherburne. They were attacking the rim, and so were Okorie and Choate for North. Cordova made a good finish on the break, but BG still led 12-7. Then Choate went up strong inside but Sherburne made a terrific block to prevent the basket. Then North senior forward Emily Kendall made a good up and under move to get to the line, where she made 1 of 2 FT's. It was 12-8 BG after 1.
In the 2nd quarter Guertin was again the sharper team. This is when Sherburne really started to attack and be assertive offensively, as she scored 9 of her 17 points in the 2nd quarter. She was finishing in transition and also hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Then right after that North freshman wing Abigail Streeter answered with a 3 ball of her own. Sherburne hit a pair of FT's to make it 7 points in a minute for her and a 19-13 BG lead.
Sherburne was distributing as well as scoring. She made a smooth euro-step move and finish on the break, then on the next time down pushed it hard up the floor and dished it over to Gigi Piercy for a jumper. That gave the Cardinals a 25-14 lead, and at halftime it was 25-15.
"I really admire Jamie" said Kerutis. "She has brought me along since my freshman year. I have all the confidence in the world in here. We play really well together."
In the 3rd quarter BG continued to lead by double digits. Cordova was starting to heat up from the outside, though. She hit a 3 to cut the BG lead to 25-20. Guertin responded, as Field hit a shot inside plus the foul. Then sophomore guard Marie Laplante (who transferred from North to BG) scored on a layup on a baseline out of bounds play. Then after a quick steal, Sherburne hit a jumper in the lane. Sherburne then connected on 2 FT's after North senior forward Brittany Desroche was called for an intentional foul. It was 36-24 BG after 3.
To start the 4th quarter Kerutis grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a jumper in the paint. That made it 38-24 Cardinals. Just when it seemed like BG was running away with it, North made their run.
Cordova got the run started with another 3 ball. Then Kendall got the ball inside and connected on a nice scoop shot. Just a few seconds later North got the ball back and Okorie drove to the basket and hit a runner off the glass. Ali Nelson hit a pair of foul shots for North, and then Okorie again attacked the basket, scoring on an and-1 finish. That completed the 12-0 Titans run, and it was now 38-36 BG with 2:38 left.
Field hit 2 big FT's to make it a 2 possession game, 40-36 BG. Choate answered right back for North though, connecting on a leaner off the glass, and the BG lead was again back down to just 2.
Sherburne then made 2 FT's, and after a missed shot by Choate on the other end Sherburne again got fouled and hit both FT's. The BG lead was now 6, 44-38.
There was no quit in North, though. Cordova buried another 3 ball to cut the lead in half, 44-41 with :41 left. Kerutis hit 2 FT's and it was 46-41 BG. What happened next? Yup, ANOTHER 3-pointer for Cordova! It's now 46-44 Guertin. It was Cordova's fourth 3 ball of the game. Did I mention she's only a sophomore? Plus Choate and Okorie are only juniors and Streeter is only a freshman. Yeah, North could definitely be the favorite next year.
BG got the ball back, up 2 with 15 seconds left. North was trying to foul them, and even shoved a couple of Cardinal players but there was no call. BG dribbled the clock out, and held on for the 46-44 win.