By: Jeremy Leveille
The defending Division IV champs Sunapee High girls basketball team improved to 9-0 on the season with a 61-26 win over Newmarket on Friday night. The Lakers have now won 31 games in a row and are the heavy favorites to repeat as champions.
"We just have to stay grounded and level-headed" said Sunapee head coach Tim LaTorra.
Sunapee has a pair of juniors in forward Katie Frederick and guard Sydney Clark who have been starting for 3 years. Senior Lexie Hamilton has been starting all four years (the first 2 years at Hanover). The Lakers return four starters from last year's undefeated championship team, plus several key reserves.
Sunapee jumped out to an 18-5 lead in the 1st quarter vs. Newmarket on Friday night and never looked back. Junior wing Faith Larpenter dropped a game-high 14 points for the Lakers to lead a balanced scoring attack. Hamilton had 6 points to go with 9 assists and 3 steals. Hamilton made a number of high level passes, displaying tremendous court vision.
"My role as the point guard is to get my teammates the ball where they can score" said Hamilton. "We have lots of good scorers, like Faith, Katie and Sydney. "I've always had good court vision. Coach Hank Tenney helped me with that growing up."
Hank Tenney coached the Stateline Jammers AAU basketball team that many of these Sunapee girls grew up playing together on.
After going undefeated last year, it looks like Sunapee is just as hungry this season for another title.
"In a way we're even more focused this year" said Hamilton. "We only lost one player from last year, so we know we have a target on our backs."
To get ready for the season (and since there's so few teams in D-IV who can give them a game), Sunapee took on defending D-III champs Conant and defending D-I champs Londonderry in preseason scrimmages. The Lakers beat Conant in a 15 minute scrimmage.
In Friday night's contest, Hamilton started things off by driving right through the Newmarket defense before hitting a runner in the lane. Then Newmarket took their first and only lead of the game, as guard Jasmine Senesembath connected on a 3-pointer off the catch from the right wing. Larpenter put the Lakers back on top by hitting a 3 of her own on the other end. That shot started a 9-0 run by Sunapee, as it was followed by a 15-footer by Larpenter, a fast-break layup by Larpenter and transition layiup by Clark. It was 11-3 Lakers with 5:04 left in the 1st quarter, forcing Newmarket head coach Randy Edgerly to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout Sunapee kept on rolling, as Frederick finished a layup off a nice dish by Larpenter. Meghan Frederick came off the bench and immediately drained a 3-pointer for the Lakers to make it 18-5 Sunapee with 3:06 left in the opening quarter. That was followed by a layup by Jessica Parsons off a nice pass by Hamilton - this team really passes the ball well.
"We focus most of our energy on defense, and that leads to our fast-break" explained Coach LaTorra.
Alisa Cote answered with a 3-pointer for the Mules, but Sunapee looked to run a fast-break off the made basket, getting it to Meghan Frederick for the layup. It was 22-7 Sunapee after 1 quarter.
Clark buried a 3 from the right wing to extend the lead to 25-7. Then the offense slowed down a little for the Lakers, as they missed 3 layups in a row. That streak ended though, as Katie Frederick made a layup and then Clark finished a layup on the break off a dish by Larpenter.
Katie Frederick was all over the boards, as Newmarket had trouble matching up with her in the paint. Fredrick is 6-foot-2, which is at least 6 inches taller than anyone the Mules put on the court.
Hamilton made a good pass from the perimeter, finding Meghan Fredrick underneath the basket for 2. That made it 33-7 Lakers, as they were on an 11-0 run to start the 2nd quarter. It was 35-11 Sunapee at halftime.
The Lakers outscored Newmarket 17-4 in the 3rd quarter. Hamilton made another nice pass from up top, this time finding Katie Fredrick inside for the layup. The good passes continued for Sunapee, as Clark zipped one from up top over to Larpenter for a layup and a 39-11 lead.
Hamilton ran into the paint from up beyond the arc to grab an offensive rebound and lay it back in for 2. On the next trip down Hamilton backed her defender down with the dribble, turned and finished inside for 2 more. Then Larpenter buried another 3-pointer, this time off a drive and kick-out by Hamilton.
Larpenter finished an easy put-back, and then Hamilton drove and dished it to Meghan Frederick for an easy layup. Sunapee was up 50-11 and was on a 15-0 run to start the 3rd quarter. Finally Newmarket ended that run, as Reagan Jordan scored inside with 2:20 left in the 3rd quarter. Meghan Frederick made a good extra pass to Parsons for a layup, and it was 52-15 Sunapee after 3.
Senesembath (team-high 1 points) drove into the lane and hit a floater early in the 4th quarter. Then both teams began pulling their starters. Cote hit a 3 for the Mules, while Mary Grznna was playing well off the bench for the Lakers. Give credit to Newmarket, for how hard they kept playing even when down by 30+ points. Sunapee cruises to the 61-26 win.
These girls know how to compete" said Coach LaTorra. "They all play 3 sports. Some of them have won championships in other sports in addition to basketball, such as softball and soccer."