By: Ross Laorenza
Trailing by 5 with two minutes to play the Central Little Green had to dig deep to pull out a comeback win against Alvirne. Sydney Richard (#31) hit a three pointer inside 1:30 and then Caitlyn Vincent (#24) hit a three with 40.6 remaining in the game to put Central up 1.
Amanda Wetmore had a chance to tie or take the lead for Alvirne after a late foul call, but she missed both free throws. The Broncos were 10 for 26 from the free throw line in the game, unable to capitalize on two double bonus situations.
With just two team fouls in the second half and less a minute to play, Alvirne looked to steal an inbounds pass and when that wasn’t successful they went for a foul. Finally with 6.5 remaining Devin LaCroix (#11) got to the line for one and one, making both to the jubilation of the home crowd. A three for Amanda Teague wouldn’t go with time winding down and Central completed the comeback avenging a regular season loss to Alvrine. Final score, Central: 38, Alvirne: 35.
“We knew eventually if we stayed under control, we were going to get some good shots,” said Central head coach Mike Wenners. “To me, we just wanted to make sure we didn’t lose composure, because we weren’t making baskets.”
Central was shut out in the first quarter, but on a cold night shooting for both team Alvirne was only able to gain a 5-0 lead. The Broncos were led by seniors Emily Barry (#5) and Kaycee Carebone (#3). Defensively they were very effective, keeping Central on the perimeter. When one pass would slip through, early on, the shots just wouldn’t go for the Little Green.
“I love the heart of this young team,” said Alvirne coach Steve Tracy, “I’ve been stressing defense all year, even when we have a really tough shooting night (19% from the field in the first half) and were still tied score, that’s telling you the defensive philosophy keeps us in the games…”
After being shut out in the first quarter, Central offense began to gain rhythm in the second. Mary Soares (#54) got the scoring started for Central with a basket down low. Amanda Gaudreault added two buckets, one outside and one in tight as part of the Central second. No one was bigger than Caitlyn Vincent who hit two momentum shifting three pointers in the quarter. Both put Central ahead, (7-6, 10-8).
But Alvirne steadied nearing the half. Shots from Emily Barry and Sam Ratte (#11) tied the game at 12 going into halftime.
The Little Green opened the 3rd quarter with a 6-0 run. Mary Soares fed Natasha Velez (#33). Two minutes later Sara Swetland (#10) scored. On Alvirne’s next possession Velez blocked a Marissa Sweeney shot and then scored at the other end after grabbing her own rebound. Time out Alvirne.
There is no quit in this young Broncos team. They put forth a gutsy effort as they tried to upset 3rd ranked Central on the road. Ratte, Barry, Carbone and Baker held down the perimeter while Sweeney, Wetmore and Teague held down the inside in a solid zone look. Trailing 23-16 with 3:40 to go in the 3rd quarter, Jess Baker hit a three pointer to bring Alvirne within 4 points. Nicole Teague added two free throws making the deficit only two.
A shot from Sydney Richard pushed Central’s lead back to four, before Teague added another free throw with 3.5 remaining in the third. After three quarters. Central: 25, Alvirne: 22.
The Broncos controlled the majority of play in the fourth. Three pointers from Wetmore and Baker launched them into the lead with 7:04 to play, 29-27. Kaycee Carbone fed Wetmore inside for a basket and one pushing the Alvirne lead to 5 points with 6 minutes to play.
But Central had seen enough. Great ball movement from Richard and Swetland found Vincent open. She drained it in front of her own bench drawing the Little Green with 2 points.
With 2:35 left Wetmore went 1 for 2 at the line and 35 seconds later Carbone hit two free throws giving Alvirne a 35-30 lead with 2:01 to play.
And then the late game heroics. First Richard and then Vincent like she had done twice already this season hitting a late game three to give her team the lead. Two clutch free throws from Devin LaCroix all but sealed the victory for Central. Final score, Central: 38, Alvirne: 35.
The Little Green advance to the semi-finals where Londonderry awaits them Monday at SNHU. The loss ends a very successful season for Coach Tracy and his young Broncos team.
“Our motto this year was Play Hard All the Time,” said Coach Tracy. “And we achieved that, we just came up a little bit short.”
Caitlyn Vincent led all scorers with 12 points, all on three pointers. Amanda Gaudreault finished with 6 points. Sydney Richard and Sara Swetland scored 5 points each.
Amanda Wetmore led the Broncos with 11 points. Jess Baker finished with 8 points. Emily Barry totaled 6 points.
From Manchester, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook