KEENE, NH — Derryfield School Coach Courtney Cheetham knew it would take a fast start and a near-perfect performance by her third-seeded Cougars to take down unbeaten and top-seeded Concord Christian in the Division IV State final.
Committing 16 first-half turnovers was not part of the game plan.
Concord Christian roared out to an 18-4 lead after one quarter and cruised to 46-28 win over Derryfield, capturing the first state championship in team history, Sunday afternoon at Keene State.
A stifling defense has been the calling card of the Concord Christian (21-0) throughout the season and it was on full display in Sunday’s final. From the opening tap, the Kingsmen swarmed Cougars’ ballhandlers, clogged the lane and challenged almost every pass. The result was several steals by Concord Christian and several more turnovers by Derryfield. For the game, the Cougars turned the ball over 25 times.
“Their defensive pressure caused us to get out of our rhythm on the offensive end and that was a difference-maker. They score a lot of points off turnovers. If you turn it over, you get less shots and they get more chances,” said Cheetham. “We’ve played them enough, we knew what to expect. But there is a big difference between knowing it and being able to replicate it live. They did an awesome job executing with their pressure and it hurt us.”
If there was any team with a chance to spoil Concord Christian’s dream season, it was Derryfield (19-3), a program also seeking its first state title. The only blemishes on the Cougars’ record in 2021-22 came at the hands of the Kingsman, a 47-33 loss at home in December and a 36-35 heartbreaker in Concord in January. The three games against Derryfield were the only games Concord Christian won by less than 20 points all season.
The 35 points scored by Derryfield on Jan. 18 were the most scored against by Concord Christian during the regular season. In fact, the Kingsmen gave up a paltry 23.5 points a game, including the tournament, on the year.
After the disastrous first quarter, Derryfield was able to steady its game, but they were never able to get the Concord Christian lead into single digits. The Kingsmen led by 18 (27-9) at halftime and after three quarters (33-15).
Lilly Carlisle had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead the Concord Christian offense. Sarah Muir added eight points and was a key part of the Kingsmen defensive pressure. She and fellow guard (and sister) Meghan Muir combined for seven steals. Kate Rioux chipped in with nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.
For Derryfield, freshman Elyse Ngenda had eight points, to go with six rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. sophomore Lilly Losey and junior Ava Plage (four steals) added six points each.