By: Jeremy Leveille
We hyped up Sunapee as the preseason favorite in Division IV girls basketball. On Monday night vs. Derryfield they lived up to the hype. Sunapee was hitting on all cylinders, right from the opening tip. They were pressing full court on a made basket, forcing turnovers with their press and converting those turnovers into layups on the other end. Baskets for the Lakers were happening at a frantic pace. Just 2 and a half minutes into the game Sunapee was already on top 14-0. It was 29-4 Lakers after 1 quarter and at halftime Sunapee was up 55-6. In the 2nd half the Lakers took the press off, they rested their starters for most of the 4th quarter and cruised to the 78-12 victory.
"We like to get after people and start strong" said Lexi Hamilton, a junior guard who moved to Sunapee from Hanover right before the season started. "Ball pressure is key. And we had multiple people scoring, everyone is a force."
"We have been starting off our games well, each time we've scored at least 22 points in the 1st quarter" added Katie Frederick, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward.
Hamilton and Frederick are possibly the 2 best players in the division. Tonight vs. Derryfield, Hamilton had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals. Frederick meanwhile tallied a game-high 19 points to go with 18 rebounds. Sophomore guard Sydney Clark (14 points) and senior forward Anna Richardson (11 points) were also in double figures.
Sunapee came out with intensity and focus. As soon as they got a steal or defensive rebound they immediately looked to push the ball, find the open teammate and attack the rim. Just 58 seconds into the game and it was 7-0 Lakers. Frederick was dominating the boards on both ends of the floor. Then Frederick made a nice high-low pass to Richardson for a layup. Clark banked in a leaner and then Frederick converted 2 quick hoops to make it 14-0 Sunapee with 5:30 left in the 1st quarter.
"I'm happy with how we came out, we're getting in a groove" said Sunapee head coach Tim LaTorra. "One of our starters Faith Larpenter missed all of last season with an ACL injury. Now she's back and Lexi has been a good addition. She fits right in with the team, has stepped up as a leader and has high basketball I.Q. The girls all pull for each other, we have good team chemistry."
Hamilton is a very unselfish player. She passed up on open look at a 3-pointer, instead dishing it down to Frederick for a higher percentage shot inside. Mary Quinn got Derryfield on the board, hitting a tough, contested shot inside after Sunapee went up 17-0. Then Hamilton made a great move, driving into the lane, faking a pass before using a euro-step move to get to the rim for the bucket. That made it 22-2 Lakers. Larpenter hit a 3-pointer off the catch to make it 29-4 Sunapee. That was the score after the 1st quarter.
"We graduated some key players, we're rebuilding now" said Derryfield head coach Ed Lemire, in his 31st season at the helm. "My point guard has never played point guard before this year. Sunapee is the hands down favorite in our division. I don't see anyone touching them."
Sunapee kept on rolling in the 2nd quarter. Richardson scored 2 quick buckets inside, both off feeds from junior guard Rachel Malanga. Clark finished strong through contact on a transition layup. That made it 35-4 Lakers with 6:40 left in the 2nd quarter. Then Hamilton made a steal near mid-court and finished an easy layup on the other end. Mere seconds later Sunapee got another steal with their press, and this time it was Frederick finishing the easy layup on the other end. Then Frederick finished strong inside for an and-1 after a great extra pass by Hamilton. That made it 45-6 Sunapee. Then Richardson grabbed a defensive rebound and immediately look up the floor to start the fast break. She through a lob pass over the top of all 5 Derryfield players, connecting with Clark for a strong finish. Sunapee continued to show excellent ball movement, as Larpenter threw a pass to Meggy Frederick (Katie's sister) who then left it for Larpenter for the layup and a nicely executed give-and-go. It was 55-6 Lakers at halftime.
Sunapee was the runner-up last season, falling to undefeated champs Hinsdale in the D-IV title game. In D-IV because of lower enrollment numbers they actually allow 8th graders to play on the high school varsity team. Sunapee has 3 sophomores on the team now who played in the Final Four as 8th graders, including Frederick and Clark who have started in the Final Four as 8th graders and again last year as freshmen.
"We know a lot of people have been calling us the favorite" said Coach LaTorra. But we can't get caught up in that. We need to just take it one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. There's some tough teams up north. Colebrook is good, and Groveton is always tough."
Sunapee let off the gas pedal a little in the 3rd quarter with the big lead. They took their press off, but still managed to outscore Derryfield 13-2 in the 3rd. Clark had 2 quick buckets, and then made a nice dish on the fast break to Frederick for a layup. Frederick then finished strong inside for an and-1, scoring over 2 defenders. Then Hamilton went coast-to-coast for 2, then grabbed a steal and then took it in for another layup. The Lakers started the 3rd quarter on a 13-0 run to take a 68-6 lead. They led 68-8 after 3 quarters.
It's hard to find a weakness with this Sunapee team. They have size (a 6-foot-2 center in Frederick, a 5-foot-9 point guard in Hamilton, Richardson is 5-foot-11 and for key reserves they have Meggy Frederick and Jessica Parsons who are both 5-foot-10. They have shooters - Hamilton, Clark and Larpenter are all knock down shooters. They have depth - Malanga, Meggy Frederick and Parsons would start for probably any other team in D-IV. They have good team speed and good chemistry.
In the 4th quarter Hamilton drove into the lane, drew a second defender and then made a nice dish to Katie Frederick for 2. Richardson and Parsons both made nice blocked shots on 3-point attempts. Sunapee's starters sat for most of the 4th quarter, as they went on to win 78-12.
Derryfield was over-matched, but they kept their heads up and kept playing hard out there.