Derryfield girls having fun, winning games

Cougars riding 8-game winning streak into postseason.

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MANCHESTER, NH — Winning is almost always fun. But for the Derryfield School varsity girls basketball team, the opposite may also be true, that winning has been a natural byproduct of the fun the Cougars are having on the hardwood this season.

Elyse Ngenda jumps up for a layup in traffic for 2 of her game-high 18 points Monday.

Of course, plenty of practice, preparation and skill haven’t hurt.

Monday night, the Derryfield girls improved their record to 16-2 by defeating a banged-up Sunapee squad missing two starters, 60-13.

The victory was the eighth in a row for the Cougars, their longest winning streak of the season.

“I think (the regular season) record is one of the better ones in Derryfield history, so that’s pretty exciting for us,” said third-year Derryfield head coach Courtney Cheetham. “We’re definitely young, but I expect we’re going to go out there in the playoffs and get after it and give everyone a tough game, and then see what happens.”

The Cougars feature four freshman, three sophomores, four juniors and two seniors, yet despite that age diversity, they seem to have found a chemistry typically reserved for teams that have been playing together for years.

“I think they genuinely like each other,” said Cheetham. “To be honest with you, I think it’s a staple of the school. We’re really lucky in that we get to work with great kids who are just accepting of everyone, so when they get on the court, they’re just really willing to work together and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Each girl brings her own special aspects, which help us become close.”

Sophomore Lilly Losey has been one of several talented underclassmen sparking the Cougars this season.

Monday saw another typically balanced scoring effort with freshman Elyse Ngenda, Division IV’s leading scorer, dropping 18 points on Sunapee before sitting the entire fourth quarter, junior Ava Plage scoring 12, freshman Tia Ferdinando, offering 11 markers, and sophomore Jackie Connors contributing 7.

The Cougars now move onto the Division IV playoffs where the Cheetham and company currently sit in second place and may be in a position for a first-round bye. The bracket is expected to be released later this week, with postseason play scheduled to begin next Monday, Feb. 21.

Regardless of when they start their tournament run, the Cougars are likely to be right in the championship mix and have as solid a chance as any to upset undefeated top-seed Concord Christian Academy, according to Sunapee head coach Stephanie Larpenter, who has seen both squads up close and personal this season.

Chloe Bremberg looks for a teammate to pass to late in the Cougars’ latest win of the 2021-’22 season.

“Concord Christian can be beat, so (Derryfield) has a good chance,” she said. “I mean, they played them to one point, so it’s anyone’s game in the tournament.”

Indeed, Derryfield played the two closest contests of the season against the Kingsmen, including a 36-35 setback in Concord on Jan. 18.

“I think they’re undefeated for a reason,” said Cheetham. “I’ve seen some of the northern schools as well, and I think they may be able to give them a shot too, so I don’t think it’s just us, but I’d love to get another opportunity and see what we can do.”

 

 

 

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ryanoconnor

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.