Memorial hung right with them early, but in the end would prove to be no match for the mighty Bedford High girls basketball team. Bedford won 73-34 at home on Wednesday night, proving once again that they are the top girls basketball team in the state.
"We jumped out to a 5-0 lead but lost it after that" said Manchester Memorial head coach Maureen LaRoche. "They have a lot of weapons, and we need to do the smaller things better to compete with a team like this."
It was 5-0 Memorial, and even after they lost the lead they were still right in the game, down 11-7 halfway through the 1st quarter. Then Bedford woke up, going on a 10-0 run to take a commanding 21-7 lead. Seniors McKenzie (6-foot-1) and Ali Glennon (5-foot-11) both hit 3-pointers during the run and junior Gabby Hunter had a strong finish on the break. Brown and Glennon both hit a pair of threes on the game, showing that they can not only score inside but shoot it from the outside as well.
"We had a 3-point shooting contest yesterday at practice, and McKenzie and Ali were actually the ones who won" explained Bedford head coach Sue Thomas. "We actually work on our 3-point shooting a lot, because we know teams try to pack it in on defense and force us to shoot it from the outside."
Sophomore point guard Bri Purcell also helped to ignite the Bedford run in the 1st quarter. It was 21-7 Bulldogs after 1, then Jenoyce Laniyan hit a foul line jumper for Memorial to start the 2nd. Then the pace of the game and the scoring picked up, as Glennon hit another 3, Hunter made another strong drive and finish and then Makenah Grisson answered with a tough leaner for the Crusaders. Grisson finished with a team-high 12 points, while Rachel Collins lead a balanced scoring attack for Bedford with a game-high 14 points.
Brown hit another 3, but again it was Grisson who answered for Memorial, this time with an and-1 finish on the break with her left hand. Then like Bedford really started to score in bunches, as Collins had 2 quick hoops on the break, with one being an 18 foot jumper and the other being a layup just seconds later. Bedford was really attacking and moving the ball well on offense. That put the Bulldogs up 39-16. Memorial junior point guard Angelina Marazzi (who played her freshman year at West and her sophomore year at Central) hit a buzzer beater in the lane, but it was still 41-20 Bedford at the half.
The Bulldogs only expanded their lead in the 2nd half. Haley Driscoll made a good blocked shot, then after a Bedford steal they quickly got the ball ahead to Collins for an easy layup in transition. Then Driscoll scored on a layup off a nice feed by Glennon. Bedford immediately set up their press, got another steal, which led to another layup by Collins. It was now 49-22 Bulldogs with 4:55 left in the 3rd.
Grisson kept battling for Memorial, hitting a nice scoop shot in the lane. Nicole Tucci (12 points) answered for Bedford with a long jumper with a toe on the 3-point line. The mid-range jump shot might be a lost art in basketball but not at Bedford. Collins, Tucci and Brown in particular have the shot down.
They were down big but Memorial was still fighting hard, they never stopped competing. The Crusaders are definitely in the mix for a top 8 seed and possibly even a Final Four berth come March. Things became more wide open tonght with Winnacunnet's win over previously unbeaten Pinkerton.
"In our first game vs. Londonderry we got shlacked and that made us mad" said Coach LaRoche. "Tonight's game made us even more mad. We will learn from this."
Grisson made another strong drive to get to the line and hit 2 FTs, but Collins answered with a long jumper. It was 57-28 Bedford after 3.
Collins and Tucci kept draining mid-range jumpers in the 4th quarter, as Memorial went cold offensively. Bedford started the 4th quarter on a 14-0 run to go up 71-28. Purcell made a tough drive and finish in traffic. Brown hit a 15-footer, then Bedford got the ball right back and Brown capped the run with an and-1 finish on the break. Tucci hot another 15-footer, and Laniyan made a strong drive and finish late. Bedford cruises from there for the 73-34 win.