Bishop Guertin was considered one of the preseason favorites in D-I girls basketball and they showed why on Friday night's season opener. They overcame a slow start (Trinity led 8-1 early on) to defeat Trinity 48-34. Depth was a huge factor, as 12 different kids got in the game for BG and they can all play. Head coach Jeremy Faulkner rotated them in and out, keeping fresh bodies on the floor and all 5 players out there played tough, in-your-face pressure defense.
"We had some early jitters" explained Coach Faulkner. "I could see it so I called a timeout to calm them down. Then we picked up our defense and created some turnovers."
The catalyst to BG picking up their defensive pressure, intensity and swinging of momentum was junior guard Marie Laplante. Laplante played hard, she played with heart, played great defense, forcing turnovers and diving on the floor for loose balls. She made good decisions with the basketball, knowing when to dish it off and when to take the shot, finishing with a game-high 13 points.
"Marie is our engine, our floor general" said Faulkner. "She gave us a spark on defense."
In addition to Laplante, another player who helped spark BG's 1st half turnaround was sophomore wing Abby Streeter, who hit a 3 late in 1st quarter to give BG their first lead at 11-10, and then hit 2 more 3's in the 2nd quarter. Streeter (12 points) and Laplante are both former Nashua North players who transferred to BG.
"Abby got some looks off dribble penetration, she gave us a lift" said Faulkner.
Early on Trinity was the sharper team. They were playing an active zone defense and BG was having trouble getting looks against it. Shannon Roberge converted a nifty up-and-under and it was 6-1 Pioneers. Then Trinity sophomore Hannah Fabiano blocked a shot from behind, and soon the Pioneers went up 8-1.
That's when the tide turned, as BG closed the 1st quarter with a 10-2 run. Meghan Cramb drove and hit a floater for an and-1. Roberge converted a good put-back, but then Streeter's first 3 of the game made it 11-10 BG after 1. Streeter hit another 3, and it was 17-10 BG with 6:47 left in the 2nd quarter. Then Bri Nordengren (a transfer from Merrimack) went inside for 2 and soon it was 25-13 Cardinals.
"When we first went out there we worked our game plan" said Trinity head coach Kevin Gibbs, who is a former girls varsity coach at BG and also a former asst. boys varsity coach at BG. "But then Coach Faulkner called a timeout and they picked up their defensive intensity. Tonight BG wanted it a little but more."
Then Molly Dee (another sophomore) made a strong take to the rim for 2 more for BG. This Cardinals team just has too many weapons. They now led 27-27 with 1:35 left in the 2nd quarter. Trinity was fighting to stay in it, as Hope Willard was playing tough defense, tying up Cramb to force a jump ball. But then Streeter (12 points) hit another 3 and it was 30-20 BG at halftime.
"We definitely started out nervous" said Laplante. "But we are a deep and talented team, especially out sophomores. We have worked really hard. As a captain I try to do everything I can to help the team."
Cramb scored 2 more inside and it was 32-20 BG early in the 3rd quarter. That prompted Coach Gibbs to call a timeout and pulled all 5 starters from the game. Laplante hustled for a loose ball, picked it up and raced to the rim for an and-1 finish. Then Laplante had another tough finish in traffic to make it 37-22 BG. Trinity answered, as Gibbs started putting starters back in and Ashley Hill made a good dribble-drive move into the lane for a lefty finish in traffic. It was 37-24 BG after 3. Fabiano sat for most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. She was icing her hand on the bench in the 2nd quarter.
"I pulled the starters because they had 3 turnovers there which were unforced errors and showed a lack of focus" said Coach Gibbs. "Fabiano sprained her wrist but she iced it and went back in. She'll be okay."
Guertin continued to lead by double digits in the 4th quarter, as Megan Kerutis (7 points) grabbed a steal, raced to the rim and Laplante converted the put-back. Trinity though was still hanging around, now trailing 41-31 with 3:22 left. But then Laplante came up big again, grabbing an offensive rebound inside and finishing a tough put-back to make it 43-31. Laplante kept diving on the floor for loose balls, and then drove to the bucket before hitting a runner. It was another big hoop for Laplante, and BG now led 45-32 with 1:07 remaining. They held on for the 48-34 win.