MANCHESTER, NH — Competing against 14th-seeded Moultonborough, the third-ranked Derryfield School varsity girls basketball team looked on the verge of an unexpected nail biter in the first round of the Division IV playoff tournament Monday.
Coming out of the first quarter with a 10-4 advantage, the Cougars allowed four quick points to let the underdogs within one basket.
Then they flipped the switch.
Derryfield scored 18 of the game’s next 20 points and never looked back, cruising to a 52-26 victory to advance to the D-IV quarterfinals.
“We got some more steals, and used our defense to create some offense, which was awesome, a big momentum shift, and then we hit more shots,” said Derryfield head coach Courtney Cheetham. “You know, we took a little while to get into it, which could have been nerves, I don’t know, but we just stuck with the game plan, and the kids were able to execute.”
Though the game may not have been as dominant on paper as some of Derryfield’s recent victories, including a 60-13 thrashing of Sunapee in the regular-season finale last Tuesday, Cheetham was quick to point out that her team is still relatively young, so the additional playoff experience was undoubtedly a bonus, no matter how you slice it.
“Moultonborough is a great opponent, so it’s nice that we won,” she said. “It was a little nerve-racking there, but it was a competitive game … whether that helps them two years from now, three years from now or this year, that’s just what we needed to learn and grow.”
Freshmen Elyse Ngenda and Tia Ferdinando led the effort with 20 points and 14 points, respectively, while sophomore guard Lilly Losey paced the team on both sides of the court, proving an assist and steal machine for the hosts.
“When you have a player like Elyse, who’s obviously a really good player, the others can feed off her,” said Moultonborough head coach Matt Swedberg. “You know, the team plays man-to-man, they keep the floor spread, they do a lot of the little things, so … they’re a good team. They’re well coached, and I think they can compete with a lot of the teams from the northern part of the state.”
A potential collision with second-ranked Pittsburg-Canaan – which also finished the regular season with a 16-2 record – looms as a potential semifinal clash, but first, the Cougars have to get past No. 6 Newmarket in the tourney quarterfinals. That game is currently scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Derryfield.
Newmarket defeated No. 11 Hinsdale 40-32 Monday to setup the matchup.