Saturday, January 23, 2016

BG Comes Back in 4th Quarter to Beat Winnacunnet

By: Jeremy Leveille
In a showdown between D-I Final Four contenders, Winnacunnet led for most of the game but Bishop Guertin made more plays down the stretch to notch the comeback win on the road. BG ended the contest on a 20-6 run, with Meghan Cramb, Caroline Hoffer, Rachel Marion and Meghan Donovan all scoring clutch buckets.

"We wanted to emphasize playing with pace - to get out and run" said Bishop Guertin first-year head coach Brad Kreick. "We did a good job of that in the 4th quarter."

Winnacunnet 6-foot senior forward Meg Knollmeyer dropped a game-high 21 points to go with 14 rebounds. She crashed the boards all game long, attacked the basket and hustled for loose balls. BG was led by junior wing Meghan Cramb with 17 points. BG improves to 7-1 on the season, while Winnacunnet falls to 7-3.

Playing a key factor in the outcome was poor free throw shooting by Winnacunnet. The Warriors also had at least two or three 3-point attempts in the 4th quarter which rimmed in and out. Also, Their top scorers Knollmeyer and Kaya Cadagan (12 points) both fouled out. The Warriors shot a dismal 7/18 (38%) from the foul line. Meanwhile, the Cardinals shot a more respectable 13/22 (59%) from the charity stripe. Additionally, Winnacunnet shot just 1/9 from 3-point range.

Still, BG deserved the win. And they got it done despite playing without one of their best players, junior wing Molly Dee.

"Molly has been out for a few weeks now with an ankle injury" explained Coach Kreick.

If they can get Dee back healthy and continue to play together, this is a BG team capable of winning a title. They have a lot of different players who can hurt you.

"We've had 6 different leading scorers in our 8 games so far" said Kreick.

Winnacunnet led 31-28 after 3 quarters and then extended their lead to 35-28 with a pair of quick buckets early in the 4th as senior point guard Katie Valcich zipped a pass to Knollmeyer for a transition layup and then Cadagan made a post move inside for 2. 35-28 matched the Warriors' largest lead of the game. That's when Guertin began their comeback. Hoffer made a nice pass from the perimeter to Cramb inside for an easy layup. Cramb made a good move inside to free herself up for a turnaround jumper to cut the Winnacunnet lead to 35-33.

A put-back by Knnollmeyer (verbally committed to play college ball at D-II NYIT) extended the lead to 37-33. Donovan then hit back-to-back shots, with the second one coming off a nice dish by senior point guard Marie Laplante. The Warriors' lead was now just 1, 38-37 with 2:45 remaining.

BG then took their first lead since early in the 2nd quarter, as Hoffer drove to the rim for a strong finish to make it 39-38 Cardinals with 1:21 left in regulation. Winnacunnet ball, trying to answer back and re-take the lead, trailing by 1. But instead Marion makes the play of the game, stealing the ball near mid-court and taking it all the way in for the layup on the break and-1. Marion makes the free throw and it's 42-38 BG with only a minute to play. Guertin was on a 14-3 run.

Valcich misses a pair of foul shots, but then Knollmeyer keeps Winnacunnet's hopes alive with an and-1 finish off a baseline out of bounds play. That cuts the BG lead to 42-41 with 34.6 seconds left. The Warriors need to foul, they send Hoffer to the line and she misses the front end of a 1-and-1. On the other end Valcich draws a foul, but she also misses the front end of a 1-and-1. Cramb hits 2 FTs for BG, and on the other end sophomore guard Jenny Freedman gets fouled and misses both FTs for WHS. Yeah, free throws were key in this one. Knollmeyer fouls out, Cramb hits two more FTs, and BG hangs on for the 48-41 win.

Compared to the rest of the game, Guertin did a better job of containing the Winnacunnet bigs Knollmeyer and Cadagan down the stretch.

"That was a point of emphasis for us all week" pointed out Coach Kreick. ""We wanted to keep them off the offensive boards. It's not easy to do against two bigs who are so tenacious. We just tried to keep a body on them."

Right from the opening tip, the two 6-footers (Knollmeyer and Abbi Field of BG) battled each other in the paint. Winnacunnet was in a zone, while BG played tough man-to-man defense. The Cardinals looked to run early, with Hoffer zipping a pass ahead to Field in transition for a strong finish. Cramb drained a 3 vs. the Warriors' zone to get BG off to a 5-0 start.

Cadagan pulled down two offensive rebounds in a row, converting the second one into a put-back. Then Cadagan grabbed a steal and dished it over to junior wing Emily Britton for a 3-pointer off the catch. BG looked to run the break off a missed layup by Winnacunnet, with Cramb finishing on the other end for an and-1. That gave BG an 8-6 lead with 2:51 left in the opening quarter.

Hoffer (9 points) made a good take, slashing from up top right through the WHS zone for 2. Just seconds later Guertin got a steal and junior forward Meagan Morelli hit a mid-range jumper. BG was up 13-6 and was on an 8-0 run. Then Knollmeyer drove to the rim, but Marion blocked her shot and Donovan stepped in and took a charge.

Winnacunnet closed the quarter with a pair of quick buckets in a row, as sophomore guard Hannah Driscoll made a good pass to Knollmeyer for a layup and then the Warriors stole the ball which led to a layup by Cadagan. It was 13-10 BG after 1 quarter.

The teams continued to scrap and claw on each possession in the 2nd quarter. Morelli made a good move inside before hitting a turnaround leaner. The Warriors countered, as Valcich threaded the needle to Cadagan for a layup. Britton made a good pass from the perimeter to Knollmeyer inside, who missed the layup but grabbed her own rebound and put it back in for 2. On the next trip down the floor Knollmeyer went up strong, got fouled and hit both free throws. Winnacunnet now led 19-15, and was on a 9-2 run to start the 2nd quarter.

Hoffer put an end to the WHS run as she made a good drive to the rim and finish. The Warriors responded, as Knollmeyer made a nice steal which led to a strong finish inside by Cadagan. Cadagain took it to the rim again, but this time Hoffer stepped in to take the charge. BG continued to step up on defense, as Laplante stripped the ball from Valcich on her way up for a shot inside and then Morelli blocked a 3-point attempt by Britton.

Hoffer put back in her own miss for 2, tying the game up 21-21. Winnacunnet answered back, as they once again ran their high-low game which is their bread and butter. Knollmeyer finished strong inside, and it was 23-21 Warriors at halftime.

It was a hard fought 3rd quarter as well. Knollmeyer scored inside for 2 out of the low post. Valcich drove into the lane, drew a second defender and then made a great dish to Knollmeyer for the layup. Knollmeyer continued to have a great game, as she dove on the floor and hustled for a loose ball. She was also crashing the offensive boards. Then it was Cadagan crashing the offensive boards, going up strong with a put-back attempt but getting fouled and then hitting both FTs. That gave Winnacunnet a 29-22 lead, matching their largest lead of the game.

Cramb ended the WHS run with a good take and finish. Valcich drove to the rim and hit a tough floater. On the other end Field hit a runner for 2. Donovan hit a pull-up jumper from the elbow, but then Knollmeyer blocked a shot on 'D'. Valcich drove and made the and-1, but instead was called for a charge - that was a tough call for Winnacunnet! Still, the Warriors led 31-28 after 3 quarters.

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