By: Ross Laorenza
Pinkerton Academy defeated Winnacunnet 48-31 in a battle of two unbeaten teams in D-I girls hoops. The Astros held the Warriors to 3 points in the final quarter to seals the victory.
"I'm really proud of my girls. It was a complete team effort," said Pinkerton coach Lani Buskey. "We've been playing really good defense and I challenged them in this game. I wanted to keep Winnacunnet to 40 points and my girls proved me wrong and kept them to 31."
Starting tonight for the Astros were captains Sara McLeman (#24) and Marissa Stacey (#21), along with Amanda Lemire (#12), Victoria Overko (#14) and Courtney Velho (#20). The Warriors countered with captains Meg Knollmeyer (#14) and Katie Valcich(#15), along with Jenny Freedman (#4), Emily Britton (#22) and Casey Maggiore (#30).
Victoria Overko sank an open three-pointer to start the scoring in the first quarter after good ball movement from the Astros' offense. Emily Britton cut into the lead slashing to the basket and picking up two. Amanda Lemire used her quickness to steal the ball for an easy lay-in and put Pinkerton up 5-2 in the early going.
Pinkerton Academy had several second chance opportunities in the game. Sara McLeman capitalized on one with 4:26 to play in the first, grabbing the offensive rebound and scoring off glass. McLeman was aggressive on defense often matched up against a taller forward in Knollmeyer. She picked up her first foul with 3:30 to go sending Meg to the line. Knollmeyer made both free throws to cut the Astros' lead down to 3 points (7-4).
The teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the 1st quarter. Lemire hit from three-point land. Then, Marissa Stacy stole the ball away and got it ahead to McLeman for an easy lay-in. 13-5 Pinkerton Academy. Britton scored twice in the final two minutes for Winnacunnet, while Stacy added a free throw for Pinkerton Academy. At the end of the first, Pinkerton: 14, Winnacunnet: 9.
Both defenses clamped down in the second quarter and we didn't see any scoring until over two minutes had elapsed. Brooke Kane made a nice pass inside to Amanda Lemire. The shot missed but Taylor Frost was there to grab the rebound for Pinkerton and put the ball back up for two. Kane scored next after receiving a long inbound pass as she raced by her defender. Pinkerton now held their largest lead of the night to this point, 18-9.
Winnacunnet would close the quarter with a 9-2 run. Katie Valcich found Knollmeyer open inside for two. She then added a free throw at the line. After a nice mid-range jumper from Lemire gave Pinkerton their 19th and 20th points, the Warriors added 6 more in the final 1:30. Meg Knollmeyer used her size down low and went strong to the basket for two, Jenny Freedman forced a turnover out high and went the rest of the way for a lay-up. Valcich finished the run, swooping through the paint for two more. At the half, Pinkerton Academy: 20, Winnacunnet: 18.
Pinkerton opened the 3rd with back-to-back three pointers from Lemire and Overko. "I spent this whole, entire week trying to get them more confident on the offensive end," said coach Buskey. "I said if you have the open shot, take it." That new found confidence seemed to aide the Astros' shooters early in the quarter.
Marissa Stacy picked up her third foul early in the 3rd while defending Knollmeyer. Knollmeyer made both free throws to try and keep her team close. Casey Maggiore hit a nice turn around shot to get Winnacunnet back within 4 points.
Courtney Velho came up with a steal mid way through the 3rd, her shot missed, but McLeman was there for the offensive board and the put back. 28-22 Pinkerton.
A quick four points for Winnacunnet saw them edge closer with three chances to tie or take the lead, but the Astros closed the 3rd with a 5-0 run of their own. Sara McLeman ended the run, scoring and making the and one. At the end the 3rd, Pinkerton Academy: 33, Winnacunnet: 28.
The 4th quarter was an impressive showing for the Astros as they held the Warriors to just three points. The only Winnacunnet points came with 1:01 remaining in the game when Meg Knollmeyer completed a three point play, after a strong drive to the hoop. The rest of the 4th belonged to Pinkerton. Overko added her third three-pointer as the Astros lead swelled to 12 points. They outscored Winnacunnet 15-3 in the 4th quarter for a final score of Pinkerton Academy: 48, Winnacunnet: 31.
Sara McLeman led the Astros in scoring with 14 points. Victoria Overko added two free throws to bring her total to 11 points. Amanda Lemire tallied 10 points in the win, and Marissa Stacey went 5 for 6 at the free throw line to finish with 7 points.
Meg Knollmeyer was the only player for Winnacunnet in double figures with 12 points. Emily Britton was second on the team with 8 points.
The Astros will look to stay perfect next week against Alvirne while Winnacunnet will have a quick turnaround playing Thursday against Nashua North and Friday against Spaulding.
From Derry, New Hampshire; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook