Thursday, January 16, 2014

Late Rally Pushes Coe Brown Past Oyster River

Basketball is often times a game of runs, and that was certainly the case on Thursday night in a Division II girls clash between rival schools Coe Brown and Oyster River. Momentum shifted in this game too many times to keep track of. One minute Oyster River had it, and the next thing you know Coe Brown makes a run. Both teams were very streaky. It was a hard fought game, but in the end Coe Brown made more plays down the stretch and they earn a quality win on the road 45-41 to improve to 4-3 on the season.

"We've been like that all year" said Coe Brown head coach David Hartnett. "Against Portsmouth we were down 4 with 8 seconds left and ended up winning. Last game vs. Merrimack Valley we were down big early but only ended up losing by 4. I don't have any seniors."

Oyster ended the 2nd quarter on a 13-4 run to take a commanding 28-19 lead into halftime. Coe Brown regrouped at halftime and went on a 14-2 run to start the 3rd quarter to take a 35-30 lead. Oyster River then went on a 6-0 run in the 4th quarter to re-take the lead 38-37 with 3:17 left in regulation. Finally, Coe Brown responded with a 6-0 run of their own to go back ahead 43-38 with just :42 left. The Bears held on for the 45-41 win, as the Bobcats fall to 3-5 on the season.

"I'm proud of my girls, they played really hard" said Oyster River head coach Dave Burrows. "Coe Brown swung the ball around and hit some big shots. They're a well coached team."

5-foot-10 junior Jen Schlim (who plays all 5 positions on the floor for Coe Brown) poured in a game-high 15 points to go with 12 rebounds. She had some key plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch.

"She's one of the top 5 players in the state" Coach Hartnett said. "A lot of people don't know this, but for the first 3 games she played with a heart monitor. Now she's back to being Jenny. But unfortunately because of how well she's played she's seeing a lot of double teams."

Both teams came out fighting on every possession right from the start. 5-foot-8 Junior forward Abigail Ahern made a nice play defensively to front the post and then jump the passing lane to grab a steal. She had a tough night offensively but made up for it on 'D'. Right after that steal Ahern sprinted up the floor and made a strong take to the rim but was blocked by Oyster River 6-foot-2 senior center Claire McCarthy (11 points). Then Bobcats senior point guard Jenny Mistretta capitalized with a 3-pointer against the Coe Brown zone defense.

McCarthy then converted a put-back, 5-foot-11 senior forward Claire Salmon scored inside on 2 defenders, and then Salmon scored inside again. Oyster River jumped out to a 12-2 lead to start the game. Finally the Bears ended the run as Schlim drilled a 3-pointer - Coe Brown really needed that!

Mistretta answered right back though with another 3 ball, this time from 4 feet beyond the arc. Just a few seconds later Sarah Curtin hit a 3 of her own to cut the Oyster River lead to 15-8. Coe Brown closed the 1st quarter on an 8-0 run as point guard Haley Ruth drove and scored from in close, then Ashley LeBlanc came off the bench to hit a 15-footer along the baseline to start the 2nd quarter and tie the game up 15-15 and make it a 10-0 Bears run.

That''s when Oyster River went on their 13-4 run to end the 1st half. Sophomore wing Sara Messler drilled a 3 on the left wing to start the run, then Samantha Walker scored on a layup as the Bobcats threw the ball over the top of the Coe Brown press (they broke the press easily most of the night). Messler finished the run with a strong drive and finish, and it's 28-19 Oyster River at the half.

The game of runs continues, as Coe Brown storms back in the 3rd quarter with a 14-2 run to take a 35-30 lead. Ruth made a good pass to sophomore wing Sydney Fisher for a layup. Then Messler made a good block defensively, but then Fisher scores again inside to make it a 6-0 run and force Coach Burrows to call timeout. Out of the timeout Walker banks in a jumper from 18 feet away to put the Bobcats up 30-25.

But Coe Brown just continues their run, as Fisher makes a nice steal and then Schlim connects on another 3-pointer. The Bears get the ball back inside to Fisher who scores again - she really gave the Bears a nice lift off the bench with 13 points. Schlim then hit a pair of free throws, then drove to the bucket and hit a runner to complete to the 14-2 run for Coe Brown. McCarthy made a put-back at the buzzer, and it was 35-32 Coe Brown after 3 quarters.

Coe Brown started the 4th with a nicely executed pick-and-roll play, with Schlim hitting a cutting Fisher for a layup. That's when Oyster River responded with a 6-0 run. Mistretta made a nice lob pass to the post, finding Salmon for a layup. Again, the Bobcats threw it over the top of the Coe Brown press, as Salmon dished it to McCarthy for 2. Salmon completes the run by scoring 2 more inside, as Oyster River re-takes the lead 38-37 with 3:17 left.

Then Curtin hits the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer off some solid ball movement to put the Bears back on top 40-38 with just 1:55 left.

"Sarah may be the best defensive player in D-II" commented Hartnett.

Oyster River was forced to foul, bringing up some crucial foul shots for Coe Brown. Ruth makes 1 of 2, but the Bears grab the offensive rebound. Debbie Peabody gets fouled and makes both FTs to complete a 6-0 run for Coe Brown, as they now led 43-38 with just :42 remaining.

It wasn't over yet though, as Messler gets fouled, makes 1 of 2 FTs and Oyster River grabs the offensive rebound off the second shot. Salmon makes an and-1 put-back and just like that it's a 2 point game, with the Bears clinging to a 43-41 lead with 13.5 seconds to go. However Schlim makes a pair of clutch free throws, and Coe Brown hangs on for the 45-41 victory.

"That's who we want at the line right there" said Coach Hartnett.

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