Saturday, March 8, 2014

Campbell Girls Win 2013-2014 D-III Championship

There is no doubt about who the best girls basketball team in Division III is this season. It's the Campbell High Cougars, who forced Fall Mountain into 28 turnovers and went on to win 57-41 in the title game on Saturday afternoon at Southern New Hampshire University. It is Campbell's second championship in the last 4 years, and their first under head coach Robert Allan.

Fall Mountain struggled with Campbell's press all game, especially in the 2nd half. Not only that, but Fall Mountain star forward Morgan Ferland to just 4 points on the game. Fall Mountain has Ferland and 6-foot-2 forward Peighton Ahlberg. They out-rebounded their semi-final opponent Newfound 2 to 1, but today Campbell won the rebound battle 36-34.

"I'm so happy, I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to do this with" said Campbell junior guard Hannah Neild with a big smile. "We focused on boxing out their big girls. We knew if we got the rebounds we would win. We also tried to get in their face and pressure them, we never let up."

Freshman wing Hannah Fabiano dropped a game-high 14 points and also led the team with 6 steals. The junior back court duo of Neild (11 points) and Kyle Julia (12 points) played well on both ends of the floor for the Cougars.

"Coach emphasized defensive pressure" explained Julia. "We picked up our pressure at halftime, and we finally started capitalizing on their turnovers. These girls are my family, Hannah (Neild) is my best friend."

Campbell was only up 3 at halftime, 25-22. The Cougars lead remained at just 3 points (27-24) after Ferland made a strong post move for 2 points. Senior forward Alex Trevains answered with a put-back, and then after Ahlberg made a nice block Brianna Hardy drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 30-24.

Fall Mountain was really starting to get rattled against Campbell's pressure 'D'. They were running into each other and throwing the ball away. Hardy made a layup on the break to make it 32-24 Campbell with 5:31 left in the 3rd and Fall Mountain head coach Jon Aumand called timeout.

The Campbell run only continued though, as Julia crossed over and connected on a jumper from the foul line. Fall Mountain kept turning it over vs. the press, and then Fabiano rebounded her own missed shot for 2 more points. Julia drilled an 18-footer, then after another steal by Campbell the Cougars had a 3-on-1 break the other way. Neild dished it over to Julia for a lefty layup and it was 42-28 after 3 quarters.

In the 4th quarter Fabiano continued to show why she's one of the best freshman players in the state. She scored 2 more inside to make it 44-28. Then they got the ball to her in the post, and she made a nice drop step move, turned and scored again. Campbell set their press back up, Fabiano stole the inbounds pass, lays it in for 2 more and it was now 48-28 with 6:18 left.

"I'm so proud of her" Neild said about 'the other Hannah'.

The Cougars had just broken the game open, and were running Fall Mountain out of the gym. Coach Aumand called another timeout, but Campbell had this game well in hand. They cruised to the win from there.

"We stuck to tradition, our program is about playing hard nosed defense" said Coach Allan. "The girls never quit, they never gave up. They did everything I asked of them and more. I couldn't be more proud."

Fall Mountain jumped out an early 8-4 lead, as Ahlberg made a nice block. Ferland picked up 2 quick fouls in the 1st quarter though, and she had to sit for the next 8 minutes. Ferland sitting for 8 minutes in the 1st half was definitely a factor.

Kali Trunca made a nice turnaround bank shot, to cut the Wildcats lead to 8-6, but then Fall Mountain senior guard Bailey Roberts hit a 3. Ahlberg made a nice put-back, and it was 13-8 Fall Mountain. Fabiano answered with a strong put-back, and it was 13-11 Fall Mountain after 1.

Fall Mountain continued to play well, going up 18-11 in the 2nd quarter. Josie Holt slashed to the rim for 2, and then Bethany Aumand hit a 3. Holt then sprinted back on defense to make a nice block on the break.

Then Campbell went on a 12-0 run. Fabiano hustled in for another nice put-back, Neild knifed her way into the lane with a dribble-drive move, turned and hit a leaner. Neild then buried a jumper from just inside the 3-point line, as Campbell re-takes the lead 19-18. The Cougars got a steal, Julia drives and lays it in. Mere seconds later Trevains made a layup to cap the 12-0 run and put Campbell up 23-18.

Roberts finally ended the run with a mid-range jumper, and then Aumand hit a runner along the baseline to cut the lead to 23-22. It was 25-22 Campbell at the half, and you know how the rest went.

"Each of our seniors is unique in their own way" said Fall Mountain head coach Jon Aumand. "When the going gets tough they pull together. We just didn't execute, we turned the ball over too much."

Neild, Julia and Trunca are only juniors and Fabiano is only a freshman. So it's safe to say Campbell will be the favorites to repeat as champs next year.

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