Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Goffstown Over Portsmouth in a Nail-Biter

In a match up between 2 evenly matched teams who both have Final Four aspirations, Goffstown squeaked past Portsmouth 40-39 at home on Wednesday night. It a close, hard fought, back-and-forth game throughout. Goffstown went on a 12-2 run between late 2nd quarter / into the 3rd, as the Grizzlies went from being down 24-21 to being on top 33-26. With it being such a tight, low-scoring game that run turned out to be the difference. It was only the second game all year for the Grizzlies which was decided by single digits and the first that was decided by less than 7 points.

"We haven't had many close games, so this was good practice for us" said Goffstown head coach Deanna Goodwin. "We'd rather have the practice now than wait until the tournament."

Clippers standout sophomore guard Libby Underwood exploded for 15 points in the 1st half, draining an array of pull-up jumpers from all over the court. The Grizzlies held her to just 2 in the 2nd.

"Coming in we wanted to prevent her from driving on us" said Coach Goodwin. "But she has an unbelievable pull-up jumper, she elevates above us. She nailed everything in the 1st half, so we adjusted."

The turning point came in the final minute of the 2nd quarter. Underwood had just hit her fifth jumper of the 1st half - pulling up on a dime from 15-feet and putting the Clippers ahead 24-21. But then Underwood was whistled for a 5-second violation, giving Goffstown an extra possession at the end of the half. They capitalized, as sophomore guard Kasey Britton-Doucette (team-high 14 points) as the Grizzlies scored 5 straight points and take a 26-24 lead into halftime.

Goffstown carried that momentum into the 2nd half. Defensively they played Underwood tougher, forcing her to take contest, off balance shots. Portsmouth sophomore wing Heather Durand (10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks) made a strong move to the rim, finishing with her left hand to tie it back up 26-26. Then Goffstown scored the game's next 7 points in a row. Freshman point guard Sarah Doherty (8 assists) made a nice pass from up top to a cutting 6-foot-2 Rene Roggenbuck for a layup. Britton-Doucette then hit a 3-pointer off the catch - her second 3 in the 12-2 run. Doherty made another great play to cap the Grizzlies run. With a defender right on her hip, Doherty used a nice hesitation dribble to penetrate into the lane. Once she drew a second defender, she dished it over to the open teammate. Again it was Roggenbuck, who finished inside to make it 33-26 Goffstown with 2:30 left in the 3rd quarter.

It was a 1 possession game for the entire 1st half, but now all of a sudden the Grizzlies were up by 3 possessions. As a result, Portsmouth put on a full court press to try and get back in it quickly. They forced a turnover, and then Underwood drove baseline and finished a tough reverse layup over the much bigger Roggenbuck.

Doherty continued her strong play though, diving on the floor for a loose ball. Then she made a nice move with an up-fake to create space, driving into the lane and hitting a floater. In the closing seconds of the 3rd quarter Doherty made another great pass, this time finding junior guard Hannah Larochelle open under the basket. Larochelle missed the layup, but it was a great look by Doherty. She's a tough floor general who showed some excellent court vision in this game. It was 35-30 Goffstown after 3.

"She's been coming into her own, Coach Goodwin said about her freshman point guard. "Her game starts on the defensive end, she's a very good defender. On offense she encourages more movement because she can find the open kid."

Portsmouth senior guard Izzy Pafford hit a big 3-pointer early in the 4th quarter to cut the Grizzlies' lead to 35-33. Goffstown looked to run a fast-break after the made basket though, as they quickly got it ahead to Britton-Doucette for an easy layup. Durand made a good weak side block. The ball went out of bounds, giviving the Grizzlies the ball back but Durand blocked it again.

Doherty made yet another high level pass, this time zipping it over to junior guard Molly McQueeney underneath. McQueeney got fouled inside and made 1 of 2 FTs.

Portsmouth picked up their defensive intensity, only allowing Goffstown to score 2 points over the final 3 minutes. They were over-playing the wings and getting deflections which made it tough for the Grizzlies to move the ball out on the perimeter and run their offense. Even with the Clippers extending their pressure 'D' Goffstown did do a good job of limiting turnovers.

Durand converted a crucial put-back to cut the Grizzlies' lead to 38-36 with just 2:30 left in regulation. Portsmouth set up their full court press, but Goffstown beat the press for a layup, as Doherty notched her eighth assist of the night by threading the needle to Larochelle who was open under the basket for a layup. That extended the Grizzlies' lead to 40-37 with just over 1 minute remaining.

"We wanted to press but they saw it coming" said Portsmouth head coach Dan Parr. " We were in a 2-2-1 zone press, but then switched to full court man" said Portsmouth head coach Dan Parr. "There was a couple plays where we lost some kids there."

Clippers basketball with 1:05 left, trailing 40-37. Durand faces up to the basket from the elbow and banks in a jumper to cut the lead to 40-39 with 52.5 seconds remaining. Portsmouth needs to get a steal and if not foul. They didn't get the steal, so they fouled Doherty who went to the line for a 1-and-1. She missed the front end, and the Clippers gain possession. Durand put a shot up inside, but it rims out. There was a battle for the rebound, and Portsmouth senior point guard Eliza Provost nearly came up with it. Instead Goffstown comes away with the ball. Portsmouth chases them around, trying to get a steal but the Grizzlies were able to move the ball around without turning it over. Coach Parr was pleading with his team to foul, but it was too late - the buzzer sounds and Goffstown hangs on for the 40-39 win.

"We had opportunities" lamented Coach Parr. "Our kids played really hard. But our shooting wasn't very good there at the end."

It was a close, back-and-forth 1st half with a four ties and six lead changes. Goffstown junior wing Kathryn Howe hit a 3 off the catch from the right wing to make it 3-0 early. Durand knotted it 3-3 with a put-back. The Grizzlies were playing tough, hard nosed defense in the half court, while Portsmouth was in a 2-3 zone. Howe connected on her second 3 of the 1st quarter, this time hitting from the top of the key.

"She actually usually hits four or five 3's a game for us" mentioned Coach Goodwin.

"They're a hard team to defend, with their 3-point shooters and inside game" said Coach Parr.

Right after Howe's second 3, Underwood answered right back with a 3 of her own, as the 5-foot-8 sophomore guard connected from the left wing. McQueeney hit a 15-footer off a baseline out of bounds play to put the Grizzlies on top 8-7, but Underwood buried her second 3 of the 1st quarter to put the Clippers ahead for the first time, 10-8. Larochelle pushed the ball in transition, taking it hard to the rim. Pafford was there to try and draw the charge, but clearly Larochelle was leaping AWAY from the defender as she sailed in for the shot - rather than INTO the defender. The shot was good, and it should have been an and-1 for Larochelle, but instead the official called a charge on her. Ouch! As a result, the score remained Portsmouth 10, Goffstown 8 after 1 quarter.

More back-and-forth action in the 2nd quarter, as Goffstown ties it 10-10 but then Underwood pulls up on the break from 18 feet and sinks the jumper to make it 12-10 Clippers. Then Larochelle drives baseline and this time she does get the call, hitting the shot inside plus the foul for an and-1. It was tied 12-12, but then Underwood hit a tough pull-up jumper from 15 feet.

Doherty made a nice skip pass over to Larochelle, who drilled a 3-pointer off the catch from the left wing to put the Grizzlies back on top 15-14. On the next trip down Larochelle went strong to the rim for a lefty finish to make it 17-16 Goffstown with 3:55 left in the 1st half. That gave Larochelle 7 quick points off the bench in the 2nd quarter.

Portsmouth regained the lead, but then Britton-Doucette converted a put-back cut the Clippers' lead to 20-19. Provost banked in a floater in the lane, and on the other end the Grizzlies countered with an and-1 finish by Britton-Doucette. That's when Underwood hit another jumper to make it 24-21 Portsmouth and you know how the rest wet by reading above.

Goffstown improved to 11-3, while Portsmouth falls to 8-4. The Grizzlies are the only team all year to beat Bishop Brady (14-1). Those 2 teams have a rematch the last night of the regular season on February 27 in Concord.

There aren't many true point guards out there in the NHIAA right now but Doherty is definitely one of them. She really sees the whole floor well, plays hard and doesn't turn it over. 2 of the better point guards we've seen this year are freshman, with Doherty and Brooke Rooney of Timberlane. Tonight's Goffstown/Portsmouth game had 2 of the better freshmen players in D-II, between Doherty and 5-foot-9 wing Sadie Shore. Underwood and Durand are 2 of the state's better prospects from the deep and talented Class of 2017. And as for 2015's, Roggenbuck is a kid who could help somebody at the next level. She is 6-foot-2, runs the floor well, can rebound and finish around the rim.

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