Memorial/Derryfield thriller highlights holiday tournament

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Madison Pepra-Omani at the line. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Day One of the 2022 Doug Chandler Girls’ Christmas Girls’ Basketball Tournament is in the books and it was capped off with a thrilling contest between two Queen City teams that provided a more even contest than their respective divisions might suggest.

In the fourth and final contest of the tournament’s opening day, the Crusaders of Manchester Memorial defeated the Derryfield School, 53-52.

After the game’s opening basket from Derryfield’s Abby Fournier, Memorial guard Madison Pepra-Omani rolled off seven straight points over a span of just a minute. It would be the first of streaks in the contest where Pepra-Omani took control of the game’s momentum, finishing with 21 points on the night.


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Memorial’s Emma Rossi. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Pepra-Omani would add a second three-pointer before the end of the first frame and teammate Emma Rossi added a pair of her own treys to give the Crusaders an 18-10 lead heading into the second period, but the Cougars began to compensate.

Derryfield brought the margin down to 29-22 by halftime and would tie things up just under two minutes into the third quarter off a three-pointer from Tia Fernando. The Cougars would build a lead of five points, but couldn’t expand that margin as Memorial came back and retook the lead, only to see Derryfield bounce back and knot up the contest at 39-39 by the end of the third.

After the teams see-sawed through the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, Pepra-Omani’s field goal put the Crusaders back in the lead for good, although it was a lead that couldn’t grow beyond four points for the rest of the game, as Memorial needed her to provide a last second steal seal the victory(see video).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfBnh–2pVs]

For Derryfield Head Coach Courtney Cheetham, the fact that her squad plays in NHIAA’s Division II and Memorial is in Division I was irrelevant. Instead, her thoughts were about where her team could have converted just one more free throw or grabbed just one more rebound that would have turned the defeat into a victory.

Still, she was pleased with her team’s performance.

“I think it’s just about playing New Hampshire girls’ basketball and trying to be competitive for 32 minutes,” she said. “I thought our kids played really hard and that’s all I can ask of them regardless of who we’re playing.”

Memorial Head Coach Greg Coutreau Jr., had praise for the Cougars, but felt that his squad relied too much on shots from outside the paint early on, with the lack of penetration to the hoop serving as the key reason why Derryfield did not give up any fouls until the second half.

“You’re not going to get the referees to give you any calls if you’re not attacking the basket, if you’re not being aggressive,” he said. “I thought the kids did a really nice job taking that into account and attacking a lot more in the second half.”

While Coutreau expected Derryfield to be tough, given what would likely be an underdog mentality and his awareness of Fernando’s prowess, he also hoped for more consistency from his squad on both ends of the court. While Pepra-Omani has the skills to take the game into her hands, without regular support across the team, he believes that opponents will be able to shut the Crusaders down by focusing on focusing all their defensive pressure on Madison.

“If we can get everybody to score at least two to six points, that makes us that much harder to guard,” he said. “Maddie’s able to get her shot and get her scoring up almost whenever she wants to, but as you saw at the beginning of the second half, they began to boxing on her and we’re going to see a lot of that until kids can start shooting the ball and attacking.”

Rossi finished the contest with 13 points, the only other Memorial scorer in double digits with NyAsia McKelvey leading the way on the boards for the Crusaders with nine rebounds on the night.


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Derryfield’s Tia Fernando passes the ball. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Fernando led the way for Derryfield with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Abby Fournier and Sam Chappel each contributed 11 points as well for the Cougars.

Preceding Memorial and Derryfield’s contest, Conant easily dispatched Manchester Central, 49-27.

Only a field goal from Joyce Mendez to open the game stopped Conant from shutting out the Little Green in the first quarter, and a late three-pointer from Tianna Mann kept Central from being scoreless in the second quarter.

“I think the joke is traditionally that all the days come out flat the day after Christmas. We talked beforehand about that not happening and clearly that didn’t happen,” said Manchester Central Head Coach Mike Wenners. “I think the girls figured it out a little bit at halftime and provided a bit more focus, but we came in knowing that Conant is a great team, so we knew we had a tough task ahead of us.”


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Conant’s Brynn Rautiola grabs for the ball. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Central didn’t have any double-digit scorers on the night, with McKenna Schneidermann coming closest with eight points.

Conant went 16-for-19 from the charity stripe, with Brynn Rautiola finishing with 16 points and Emma Tenters also adding 16 points.

All four of the games were held at Central, and as a representative of the host, Wenners was pleased with the slate of contests.

“It’s good that kids are coming in here and getting a few good games, hopefully everyone is getting what they need out of this,” he said. “That’s the whole goal of the tournament.”

In the first game of the day at the tournament, Merrimack defeated Manchester West, 65-13. In the second game of the day, Bow defeated Trinity, 57-29.

On Wednesday, Merrimack will face Conant and Bow will play Memorial in the tournament’s semi-final round at 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. respectively.

 

 

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.