In a match up of teams who will be battling for a home playoff game and possibly a Final Four spot, the Dover High girls basketball team avenged an early season loss, defeating Nashua North 52-45 on Thursday night in Dover.
Dover jumped out to a 15-3 lead early and that turned out to be the difference. North battled hard to try and make a comeback, but the hole they dug was to deep to climb out of. Abby Tilton led Dover with 15 points, while Taylor Choate dropped a game-high 17 points in defeat for the Titans. North has now dropped four games in a row.
"We need to come out strong everyday like we did today" said Tilton, a 5'7" senior guard.
Dover packed into a zone defense to try and deny North's dribble penetration and force them to shoot the basketball from the outside. The Titans were getting good looks but weren't hitting them. North had just 14 points in the 1st half and only 5 in the 1st quarter
"We expected them to play zone, everyone has done it against us all year" said Nashua North head coach Ricky Oliver. "We've got to make shots. That's really what it comes down to. We made a lot of uncommon mistakes, but we played hard and were still in it at the end. We've had a few games now where we've dug ourselves a hole."
Senior Emily Benson hit a 3 and then junior Abby Cooke grabbed an offensive rebound and finished inside, as the Green Wave jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead. Cooke (9 points) then hit a 15-footer to make it 10-1, and Tilton drained a 3-pointer to make it 15-3 Dover.
"We played with some confidence and made some shots" said Dover head coach Dan Casey. "We got contributions from several people, and that makes us dangerous."
Choate ended the Titans' scoring drought, grabbing a loose ball at 3/4 court and racing all the way to the rim for 2. IT was 15-5 Dover after 1 quarter.
Heather Roscoe connected on a 3 early in the 2nd quarter to cut the Dover lead to 15-8. Allison Benson made a strong drive to the bucket and lefty finish. North countered as Dezi Okorie drove the lane and hit a floater. Dover answered back, as senior guard Katie Boyatsis was left wide open under the offensive boards for a put-back.
Emily Benson got back on defensive and prevented a North transition basket, blocking a shot attempt inside by Choate. Then Choate showed some tough defense of her own, hustling back on 'D' to prevent a Dover fast-break opportunity, forcing a tie-up with Boyatsis. Cooke grabbed a steal, zipped a pass ahead to Kaitlin McDermott for an and-1 lefty finish in transition.
Dover took a 23-14 lead into halftime, as North did not hit one shot outside of 15 feet in the 1st half. Sara Cordova (10 points) is typically good for at least two or three 3-pointers per game, if not more. But she was 0/8 from downtown in this game.
"We know Cordova is a good shooter, she's hurt us in the past" said Coach Casey. "We just tried to get a hand in their face and limit them to one shot."
Especially with their outside shots not falling, the Titans needed to get their transition game going. But Dover only had 2 turnovers in the 1st half, which made it tough for North to get out and run. The 14 1st half points is probably the lowest total of points in a half that North has had in Choate's entire four year career. Choate went has over 1,000 points and is the all-time leading scorer in North girls basketball history. She'll continue her career at Bowdoin next year.
The Titans came out with more energy, fire and intensity to start the 3rd quarter going on a 14-5 run. Sophomore wing Isabel Dunning hit a 3. Then North started running - Choate zipped an outlet pass to Sara Cordova who led the 2-on-1 break. Cordova bounced it to Dunning for the shot inside. Chaote hit a 3 and her cousin Michaela Choate hit a layup. Then it was 28-25 Dover, but North now had momentum on their side.
The Green Wave took the momentum right back, responding with a 10-0 run to end the 3rd quarter. The Green Wave got a steal and quickly turned into 2 on the other end as Emily Benson dished it to Cooke for the layup. Mercedes McDermott converted an up-and-under move for a bucket. Then it was the other way around, with Cooke hitting a cutting Benson for a layup in traffic. Cooke then hit a 15-footer while drawing the foul to cap the 10-0 run. Dover had a commanding 38-25 lead after 3 quarters.
North fought hard in the 4th, but the 13 point deficit was too big to come back from. Choate slashed through the Dover defense to the rim for 2. Kaitlin McDermott answered for the Green Wave with a strong drive and lefty finish. Choate got to the line, made the 1st free throw, missed the second but Dunning grabbed the offensive board and converted the put-back. North got a quick steal and Okorie hit a floater in the lane to cap a 9-2 Titans' run, cutting the Dover lead to 40-34 and forcing Coach Casey to call timeout.
After a pair of free throws by Tilton the Dover lead grew to 44-34 with just 3:45 left in the 4th quarter. North kept fighting though, as Choate slashed through the Green Wave defense for another athletic finish inside. Tilton answered right back with a clutch 3 to push the lead back to 47-36 for Dover with 3:20 remaining.
North refused to go away though, as Choate drilled a 3-pointer of her own to cut the Green Wave lead to 47-41. After some good ball movement, Cordova got the ball inside and she finished for 2 and again it was a 6 point game, 49-43. Down 6 late in the game North was pressing full court and trapping in the half court, trying to get a steal. They didn't get the steal, and instead Tilton got to the rim, got fouled and hit both free throws.
"We haven't been as consistent with our foul shots, so we've started focusing on them more in practice" said Emily Benson.
North needed a score, but instead Tilton grabbed a crucial steal. Choate kept North's hopes alive, again slashing to the rim for another layup to cut the Dover lead to 51-45 with 1:05 left in regulation. The Green Wave held on from there for the 52-45 victory.