Three things were clear following Goffstown's thrashing of Timberlane on Tuesday night in Division II girls basketball action in Plaistow by a final score of 72-35:
1) Goffstown is really good.
2) Goffstown will be even better when starting point guard Sarah Doherty returns from the concussion she suffered during the preseason.
3) Considering they beat Goffstown on Friday night in the season opener, that means Hanover must be REALLY good.
Goffstown lost in the D-II title game this past March in a heart-breaker to undefeated champs Coe-Brown. But the Grizzlies return four starters, plus three others who saw key minutes off the bench.
"We're hoping to get back there this year" said Goffstown head coach Deanna Goodwin. "We've got some unfinished business."
With the way they played tonight, it's hard to pick against Goffstown in D-II, especially when Doherty returns. Timberlane was right there with them early on, but then the Grizzlies went on an 11-0 run. They led 22-8 after 1 quarter, 38-21 at the half and 51-27 after 3.
Goffstown is deeper than they were last year, and their ball movement was also impressive, especially for the first week of the season.
"From the first practice they picked right up where they left off last year" said Coach Goodwin. "Now we're a little bit older, more experienced and confident. The kids understand what we're all about now. It's allowed us to go deeper."
How deep are the Grizzlies? Even while playing without their starting point guard, they still played 10 kids - all 10 of them scored. Five of them hit a 3-pointer, including seniors Katie Howe and Molly McQueeney who each drilled three shots from beyond the arc as well as 5-foot-6 freshman guard Sophia Piriz who dropped a team-high 13 points.
Timberlane played hard, and was led by their speedy back court of sophomore point guard Brooke Rooney (11 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals) and senior shooting guard Ally Ruth (13 points, including three 3-pointers).
But it wasn't nearly enough to hang with Goffstown for four quarters. The Grizzlies clearly had a game plan to pressure Rooney and limit Ruth's open looks. Right off the opening tap senior guard Hannah Larochelle played some tough on the ball defense on Rooney, forcing a turnover. Rooney recovered by dishing out two assists in a row, including one on a hard push up the floor, followed by a hesitation dribble into the lane and once she drew a second defender Rooney dished it to Ally Collins (9 points) for the layup.
McQueeney hit a 3, but then Ruth answered right back with a 3 ball of her own. It was a close battle early on.
Then Goffstown took over. Howe buried a pair of 3's, Piriz made a strong finish through contact and then Howe connected on another 3 to cap a quick 11-0 run by the Grizzlies to make it 16-7 Goffstown. Kasey Britton-Doucette kept it raining for the Grizzlies, hitting a 3 of her own and it was 22-8 Goffstown after 1 quarter.
Timberlane tried to battle back in the 2nd quarter, as Rooney made another nice dish on the fast break, this time threading the needle to Courtney Sickle for a layup. Goffstown responded with another run - Larochelle slashed to the rim for 2, Piriz sunk a 3 (she has a very fluid shooting stroke off the catch, especially for a freshman), Britton-Doucette made a nice block, senior forward Siobhan Pelletier hit a 15-footer and McQueeney drained a 3 from the left wing. The Grizzlies were firing on all cylinders, and they headed to the locker room with all of the momentum and a 38-21 halftime lead.
The shots continued to fall for Goffstown in the 33rd quarter. Gabrielle Cass hit an 18-footer. Piriz made a nice steal near mid-court, then took it in for a tough lefty finish to make it 44-22 Grizzlies with 4:21 left in the 3rd quarter. Ruth hit a 3 for the Owls, but then Peyton McBride countered for Goffstown with a strong take and runner in the lane to make it 51-27 Grizzlies after 3 quarters.
Goffstown has a nice blend of strong play from seniors (McQueeney, Larochelle, Howe and Siobahn) to go with exciting younger players (Doherty is only a sophomore, Piriz is only a freshman, Cass is only a sophomore). This means that not only is this a good team this season, but they will be good for the next few years as well.
The Grizzlies kept on rolling in the 4th quarter. Piriz hit a shot inside, then on the next trip down she converted a put-back. Rooney buried a 3 for Timberlane, but then McQueeney answered right back with her third 3 ball of the contest. Goffstown continued to crash the offensive boards and move the ball well. They also got a 4th quarter spark from junior wing Sierra Gilmore, who scored 2 inside and then drilled a 3. Then after Rooney hit another 3, Gilmore countered with another 3 of her own as she contributed 10 points off the bench.
Goffstown cruises from there for the 72-35 win.
The high school basketball season is only a few days old, yet there's already been a handful of standout freshman performances. Not only Piriz from Goffstown, but Silke illiman (Hanover), Maddy Haynes (Trinity), Ashley Evans (Londonderry) and Abbe Laurence (Portsmouth) have all impressed early in their careers.