Division IV Girls: Holy Family makes history with win over Moultonborough

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Photo by Stacy Harrison. More photos available at www.stacyharrisonfreelance.snugmug.com

MOULTONBOROUGH, NH — Holy Family Academy shook off early foul trouble and a squandered lead to make history Tuesday night, with a gritty 27-24 win over Moultonborough Academy in the opening round of the Division IV State Tournament.

The 9th-seeded Griffins (12-7) were playing in their first-ever State Tournament game, since beginning NHIAA competition in 2020.

“This is our first tournament game and our first win,” said Holy Family Head Coach Joseph Williams, now in his 13th season in charge of the program.


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Photo by Stacy Harrison. More photos available at www.stacyharrisonfreelance.snugmug.com


With the victory, Holy Family advances to the quarterfinals on Friday, when it will travel north to Littleton to take on the unbeaten and No. 1 seed Crusaders (19-0). Littleton swamped No. 16 Mount Royal, 53-23, in the First Round, Tuesday night.

“I was kind of rooting for Mount Royal. Then we would have gotten a home game,” said Williams, with a chuckle.

Holy Family and 8th seed Moultonborough (12-7) each played aggressive, swarming defense and neither club shot well from the perimeter. As a result, made baskets were rare and precious, indeed. Freshman point guard Ryenn Pedone led Holy Family with nine points, despite sitting out a good portion of the first half after picking up her third foul.

Clinging to a two-point lead with just over a minute to play, Griffins’ freshman Grace Thibault turned in the defensive play of the game. A put-back by Holy Family’s Elianny Gonzalez-Pena rimmed out, Moultonborough’s Alicia Johnson grabbed the rebound and quickly fired an outlet pass to a breaking Lauren Grinavic for, what appeared to be, an uncontested layup to tie the game. But Thibault raced back, got herself positioned and was knocked to the court a forearm as Grinavic went up for the layup to draw the offensive foul.

Free throws by Elizabeth McGee and Pedone in the waning seconds sealed the victory.

Holy Family got off to a fast start, building an 11-1 lead after the first quarter on the strength of a smothering defense. But the aggressiveness had a cost, as Pedone picked up three fouls along the way, forcing her to the bench.

Without their floor general, the Griffins’ offense ground to a halt and they actually went scoreless in the second quarter. Fortunately, Moutonborough continued to be ice cold from the field and were only able to cut the margin to 11-6 by intermission.

“With (Pedone) on the bench, the rest of the team stepped up on defense. They really held the game together and that was key,” said Williams.

The host Panthers came out hard to start the second half. Alicia Johnson scored in the paint off a feed from Madde Hart, then Sadey Sherkanoski drilled a 3-pointer from the wing on the next trip down court. Suddenly, the score was tied, 11-11, just 38 seconds into the second half.

With its season on the line, Holy Family dug deep and began getting offensive contributions from other sources. Freshman Claire Thibault banked in a long jumper, followed by Gonzalez-Pena hitting a 3-pointer from the wing. Gonzalez-Pena then ran a nifty give-and-go with junior Torrey Pedone, with the latter scoring on a ridiculous scoop shot while falling out of bounds to cap a 9-2 run that put the Griffins up 21-15.

“We made some adjustments (at halftime) and really it was more mental adjustments,” said Williams. “We were too tentative. We had one of our inside players (Gonzalez-Pena) and we sent her outside, she was tentative. Then she hit a three and we said, if they’re going to leave you open, take the shot.”

Charlotte Johnson led Moultonborough with seven points. Alicia Johnson and Sherkanoski added six each.


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Photo by Stacy Harrison. More photos available at www.stacyharrisonfreelance.snugmug.com


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Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 35 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.