Monday, March 3, 2014

Hinsdale Girls Remain Unbeaten, Headed to D-IV Finals

The Hinsdale High girls basketball team is on a mission. Last season they went undefeated 18-0 in the regular season and were 20-0 heading into the Division IV Final Four. But then they lost in the semi-finals in heart-breaking fashion to eventual champion Groveton.

This season Hinsdale again went 18-0 during the regular season, and was again 20-0 heading into the Final Four. This time however they're on a mission to finish the job, and win their first girls basketball title in school history. The Pacers advanced one step closer to that goal on Monday night at Plymouth State University.

Hinsdale jumped out to a 13-1 lead, behind senior point guard Skylar Bonnette, who buried three quick 3-pointers right off the bat. In the 2nd quarter the Pacers went on an 8-0 run, taking a commanding 28-15 lead into halftime. Littleton was unable to get the lead into single digits during the 2nd half, and Hinsdale cruised to a lopsided 56-30 win.

"We knew that we need to play tenacious defense and the offense will come" said Bonnette. "I'm a better defensive player than I am on offense."

That must mean Bonnette is a heck of a defender, considering she's scored over 1,000 career points. Bonnette finished with a game-high 20 points, plus 9 rebounds, 7 steals and 4 assists. Bonnette is lightning quick, she can flat our score the basketball but is also a great passer who is unselfish and has very good instincts/court awareness. And the 7 steals show how good of a defender she is. Between the 2 semi-final games on Monday night she was the best player in the gym.

"We were hoping for a fast start tonight" said Hinsdale head coach Terry Bonnette, who is Skylar Bonnette's father and coached his daughter along with the team's other seniors when they were growing up. "Sometimes we don't get off to a good start so we needed this. We were 20-0 last year but then lost in the semi-finals so the girls were determined to not let that happen again."

Hinsdale will take on #3 seed Sunapee (18-2 on the season) in the D-IV championship game.

"We're not satisfied with this" Skylar Bonnette commented after the game.

Mere seconds after tip-off Bonnette had already drilled her first 3-pointer. Soon after that 6-foot-1 senior forward Bridget Bourne made a put-back and Bonnette hit another 3, and just like that it was 8-0 Hinsdale. Then senior guard Allison Scott connected connected on a jumper in the paint followed by yet another 3 by Bonnette. The 13-1 run to start the game was complete, as the Pacers came out of the gate hitting on all cylinders.

Bonnette went to the rim for an and-1 finish and it was 16-5 Hinsdale, with 12 of those 16 points coming from Bonnette. Then it was time for Hinsdale's other Skylar to get in on the action, as freshman wing Skylar LeClair picked up a loose and slashed to the rim for a layup at the buzzer. I suppose you could say the 'Skylar's the Limit' for Hinsdale (get it?). The Pacers led 18-7 after 1.

Littleton rallied to get back in it in the 2nd quarter. Libby McNamara hit back-to-back jumpers to cut the Hinsdale lead to 18-11. Then Bonnette made 1 of her 7 steals on the game, leading a 2-on-1 break the other way. She made a nice dish over to teammate Breanna Benjamin for a layup and a 20-11 Pacers lead. McNamara (team-high 10 points) answered back with another 15-footer and Emma Bogardus scored inside off a baseline out of bounds play. Just like that the Hinsdale lead was only 5, 20-15 and Littleton had grabbed momentum.

Hinsdale responded with a quick 6-0 run, as Bonnette, LeClair and 6-foot 8th grader Kira Rideout all scored buckets to push the lead back up to 26-15. Pacers guard Kathryn Fecto was fouled on a last second 3-point attempt from 10 feet beyond the arc. She made both FT's, as Hinsdale ended the half on an 8-0 run and took a 28-15 lead into the locker room.

The 3rd quarter got off to a very slow start scoring-wise, with 3 minutes running off the clock and without any points. Once the points started coming they were all being scored by Hinsdale. Scott and LeClair hit 15-footers and Bonnette drilled a pair of free throws as the Pacers doubled Littleton's score 34-17. LeCalir then continued to heat up, scoring another bucket inside followed by 3-pointer. Hard to believe she's only a freshman! It was now 39-21 Hinsdale with 1:12 left in the 3rd, and soon it was 42-21 after Bonnette made another nice dish to Rideout for a layup. The Pacers were once again on a roll, they had broken this game wide open, leading 42-21 after 3.

Sarah Hasselman drilled a 3-pointer to try and get Littleton back in it, as the lead was now somewhat within reach at 42-26. But it wasn't meant to be, as Hinsdale responded with an 11-0 run. The catalyst for the run was who else but Skylar Bonnette. The 5-foot-4 point guard was simply the quickest, most skilled player out there and she was making plays all over the floor. Rideout started the run with a 15-footer. Then Bonnette missed a 3 but hustled in to follow her shot. She grabbed the offensive rebound, went up strong with the shot and got to the free throw line. Right after that Bonnette made a great steal, pushing it up the floor to create a 2-on-1 fast break opportunity. She made a good dish to an open teammate. After the layup attempt was no good Bonnette again grabbed the offensive rebound, went to the rim and got fouled. She hit both FTs, and then after Hinsdale got the ball back Bonnette put the ball behind her back to avoid a defender before making a nice entry pass to the post (with a tough angle) to Bourne who made the layup. It was now 51-26 Pacers with just 3:00 left in regulation.

Soon the team's began pulling out their starters, the Hinsdale fans cheered in celebrated as their team went on to win 56-30 to advance to their first girls basketball title game in school history.

"I'm proud of our team" said Littleton head coach Dale Prior. "I'm always proud of our teams, this is the 4th time in 5 years we've made it this far. We just got beat by a better team tonight."



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