In their D-II match-up on Wednesday night in Dover, both Goffstown and St. Thomas played without their starting point guards - clearly Goffstown is the deeper team. The Grizzlies overcame the loss of point guard Sarah Doherty to take a double digit lead early in the 2nd quarter and never looked back. They went up 40-20 after 3 quarters and cruised to the 50-31 win.
Doherty continues to sit out with a concussion (she's missed the whole season so far), while St. Thomas standout senior point guard Reagan Williams was sidelined with a high ankle sprain.
With Williams out, the pressure was on teammate Ashley Coneys to carry the team. Coneys delivered, dropping a game-high 22 points. Unfortunately Goffstown scored more than that (25 points) in the 1st half alone, and the rest of the Saints combined to score just 9 points. St. Thomas would have scored more, but they shot just 11/24 from the foul line.
Meanwhile, Goffstown had a more balanced attack. All 11 players on their roster got in the game, and 10 of them scored. The Grizzlies were led by freshman guard Sofia Piriz, who scored a team-high 12 points on four 3's. Also chipping in were seniors Hannah Larochelle (10 points) and Katie Howe (9 points).
It was a back-and-forth game early on. The Saints' Brianna Michaels zipped a pass to Chloe Benelli who was cutting to the basket for a layup to tie it up 2-2. Then St. Thomas used more good ball movement - this time it was Brenna Chrisom to a cutting Coneys for a layup and a 5-4 STA lead.
Goffstown senior forward Siobhan Pelletier hit a jumper from near the foul line to put the Grizzlies back on top 6-5. That shot started a 10-1 run by Goffstown. It was followed by a 3-pointer by Piriz, who came off the bench and immediately connected on a pair of 3's. Piriz definitely doesn't play like a freshman!
Coneys ended the Goffstown run by driving the lane and hitting a floater. It was 14-8 Grizzlies after 1 quarter of play.
Howe took it hard to the rim for a strong finish early in the 2nd quarter to make it 16-8 Goffstown. Coneys answered for the Saints, hustling for a loose ball at 3/4 court and taking it all the way to the rim for a strong finish. Piriz then buried her third 3-pointer of the game. She was wide open too - I don't know how you leave a kid who's already hit two 3's so open!
Larochelle grabbed a steal in the back court and took it in for the easy layup to make it 21-10. That was Goffstown's first double digit lead - the lead only grew from there, and was at least double digits the rest of the way.
Coneys was doing what she could to keep St. Thomas in it. When her defender overplayed her out on the perimeter, she cut back door, got the pass and made a strong finish in traffic. Larochelle countered on the other end, knifing her way to the rim for a finish in traffic. McQueeney followed that up with a runner down the lane, and it was 25-12 Grizzlies at halftime.
In the 3rd quarter Goffstown continued to extend their lead. Benelli hit a baseline jumper early in the 3rd quarter. But Goffstown ran a fast-break off the make, quickly pushing it up the floor, getting it ahead to Howe for the layup. The Grizzlies kept moving the ball well on offense, resulting in a 3 by McQueeney from the top of the key. Then Larochelle drove and kicked it out to Howe, who hit a 3 from the left wing. Howe is one of the best shooters in the division and was left wide open. That made it 33-15 Goffstown, as the Grizzlies were getting to all of the loose balls and were all over the offensive boards.
Then Goffstown got yet another offensive reboumd, this one by one of the shortest players on the court - Larochelle, who converted the put back - it was too easy!
Benelli dished it to a cutting Chrisom for the layup. But then Peyton McBride came off the Grizzlies bench, came off a screen and drilled a 3-pointer off the dribble. It was 40-20 Goffstown after 3 quarters.
The teams began pulling their starters in the 4th quarter. Before they did Piriz connected on her fourth 3-pointer of the contest. Just seconds later Piriz grabbed a steal on defense. She is definitely one of the better freshman players in NH. McBride drove inside for an and-1 finish. The Grizzlies cruised from there for the 50-31 win.
Goffstown has had some blow out wins this season already. hey have to be considered one of the favorites in D-II, especially when Doherty returns to the lineup. Their only loss came to Hanover on opening night. Hanover lost to Lebanon the other night, and Lebanon is undefeated. Lebanon has to be considered the team to beat right now. Their head coach Tim Kehoe is once again doing a terrific job. And don't forget about Portsmouth and Oyster River!
On the positive side for St. Thomas, they would have been right there if they had made their free throws. Coneys had a strong game, and if they can get Williams back healthy the Saints are a team that could be dangerous come tournament time.