By: Ross Laorenza
In a highly anticipated match up between Coe-Brown and Milford, it was the Bears who came out victorious 53-41 with an excellent second half. Coe-Brown trailed 25-24 at halftime, but was able to hold Milford to 17 second half points on their way to a win.
“It was definitely a hard fought battle,” said Coe-Brown Head Coach Joe Vachon. “It was the battle we knew that was going to come. They’re the toughest team we’ve played so far. Hands down.”
With Rebecca Cleary out of the lineup and Erin McGuire lost for the season with an ACL tear, the Spartans looked elsewhere for their offense. Adelle Pitsas (#4), Kaitlyn Matthews (#11), Devany Pitsas (#10) and Jessica Ryan (#14) played well for Milford, forcing turnovers and limiting Coe-Brown’s duo of Jennifer Schlim (#10) and Abigial Ahern (#14) to 12 first half points. In fact it was Schlim who scored all 12 with Ahern sitting for most of the second quarter after picking up two fouls.
“They gave everything they had against the best team in their league and, to be honest, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Milford Head Coach Richard Parent. “We can get better. We can do better. They all know that. They don’t feel as if they gave their best tonight.”
The Spartans started strong in the first quarter, getting a three pointer from Jessica Ryan. The lead changed hands seven times in the opening eight minutes. After a bucket by Deborah Peabody (#24), Jen Schlim scored to put Coe-Brown up one. Adelle Pitsas came back strong with a drive to the basket, picking up a foul. Here two free throw put Milford back on top. A basket from Sarah Curtin (#20), who had the tall task of guarding Jess Ryan all night, gave Coe-Brown the lead, but Ryan grabbed it back with her second three of the game.
Devany Pitsas shined tonight, showing excellent athleticism and great hustle tracking down loose balls and forcing several turnovers. She took a few tumbles along the way as she scrapped to keep possession for her team. She grabbed her first two points of the night from the free throw line after drawing contact with less than one minute to play in the quarter. Her two points put Milford up one. With time running down, Sarah Curtin cut back door for a basket and a foul. She missed the free throw, but still gave her team a 14-13 lead at the end of the 1st.
Adelle Pitsas opened the scoring with a jumper out high to put Milford ahead one again, but Schlim grabbed the lead right back for the Bears. Devany Pitsas would pick up her 2nd and 3rd personal fouls within the opening minute of the quarter and would sit for the majority of the 2nd. Schlim at the line edged the Bears out in front by three. Adelle Pitsas would shorten the gap with two free throws of her own.
Kaitlyn Matthews put Milford ahead 19-18 after drawing contact. Free throws were the story of the second quarter with Milford going 8 for 8 and Coe-Brown going 6 for 9 from the stripe. Adelle Pitsas gave Milford the lead again with a nice drive to through the lane. Matthews would add to that lead from the line after a nice feed from Adelle. Jennifer Schlim scored with just over 10 seconds to play, but Milford would go into the half with a 25-24 lead over Coe-Brown.
“We’re a second half team. It’s been that way all season. The 3rd quarter has been our quarter,” said coach Vachon.
After sitting for most of the 2nd quarter Abigail Ahern came out with fresh legs for the second half. She picked up her first points less than a minute in to cut the Milford lead to 27-26, after Adelle Pitsas went coast-to-coast. Following a Kaitlyn Matthew basket, Coe-Brown went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the second half.
Haley Ruth (#21), Ahern and Sarah Curtin scored in the run to put the Bears in front. Getting the call up from JV earlier in the day, it was Ari Devine (#42) making an impact for Milford grabbing a loose ball and sending a shot toward the hoop and in. 32-31 Bears. Devany Pitsas looked as if she were about to give Milford the lead as she dished the ball to her sister on the wing, but she was called for a charge that had many in the stands upset. It was her 4th personal and she would have to go to the bench. Deborah Peabody grabbed a rebound and a basket in the closing second at the other end of the floor to extend Coe-Brown’s lead to 34-31 at the end of three.
The Bears opened the 4th with an 8-0 run the really put Milford on their heels. Ahern scored twice, Haley Ruth found a clear path to the basket and Sydney Fisher (#33) sank two from the charity stripe to put Coe-Brown out in front 42-31. Pitsas was reinserted with her four fouls with 5:32 to go in the game.
Milford did not quit in the fourth. An 8-3 run had them close within 6 points of the lead with 2:35 remaining. Jess Ryan hit her 3rd three of the game, Adelle Pitsas scored and the Spartans picked up 3 points from the line in the run. With their defense in crunch time some gaps began to develop and Coe-Brown was able to establish Abigail Ahern down low. She picked up 8 points in the final quarter.
With Milford trying to hold on for a comeback, Adelle Pistas picked up her 4th and 5th personals sending Ahern and Peabody to the line. She played every minute of the game, except the final 38 seconds after fouling out. Her leadership is something that will get this Milford team through a tough loss and onto the next game. Final Score, Coe-Brown: 53, Milford: 41
Jennifer Schlim led all scorers on the night with 17 points. Abigail Ahern scored 12 points; all in the second half. Sarah Curtin finished with 10 and Deborah Peabody totaled 7 points in the win for the Bears.
Jess Ryan lead the Spartans in scoring with 14 points, followed closely by Adelle Pitsas with 12 points. Kaitlyn Matthews finished with 8 points. For all her effort, running around and tracking down loose balls and rebounds Devany Pitsas get an honorable mention although she just scored 3 points. Sometimes it’s more than the baskets that make a player stand out. Good luck to both teams moving forward. If we’re lucky we’ll get a rematch of these two powerhouses come playoff time. Cross your fingers!
From Milford High School, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook