BEDFORD, N.H. – The 2022-’23 Manchester Memorial girls’ basketball team could have been much more than what it was, but that question of what it could have been will have to remain unanswered.
Memorial saw its season end on Friday, falling 67-37 to third-ranked Bedford in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA Division I girls’ basketball tournament.
The Crusaders held close early on, leaving the first quarter with just an 18-13 deficit, but the wheels came off the bus in the second quarter.
Memorial not only shot just 3-for-15 from the field in the second frame, but Memorial Head Coach Greg Coutreau Jr. also noted that the Crusaders’ shot selection hurt them on defense as well.
“Our whole goal was to keep them out of transition and stay inside the three-point line,” he said. “When you miss (from beyond the three-point line), or get blocked at the rim, that leads to easy transition opportunities for them where we can’t get back effectively, and that took us out of what we needed to do defensively.”
By halftime, the Bulldogs held a 44-20 lead, more than comfortable enough given the dominant play of Bedford’s three six-footers: juniors Devlyn McDonald and Lana McCarthy and senior Olivia King.
“They’re tough to cover. We’re using undersized kids that might be a little quicker to try and bother them, but when you don’t get that inside position on rebounds, you’re pretty much dead,” said Coutreau. “You’ve got to do all of that hard work before they even get the ball.”
Junior Madison Pepra-Omani led Memorial with 13 points and five rebounds. She was the only Memorial player with double-digit scoring on the night, but sophomore NyAsia McKelvey narrowly missed reaching a double-digit night on the boards with nine in total.
McCarthy had 21 points and six rebounds for Bedford, followed by 16 points and five rebounds from sophomore Kate Allard as well as 10 points and four assists from senior Sydney Grogan.
Memorial finishes their year 10-10, in what Cotreau called “consistent inconsistency.” The Crusaders bookended the year with a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak, with a five-game losing streak following the early winning steak and a five-game winning streak preceding the closing losing streak, followed by their overtime playoff victory against Exeter earlier in the week.
Despite that record, Cotreau says that some of those losses could have easily been wins if a few things went differently, as he believes this year’s squad had a mental toughness that could have brought them farther in the tournament.
“We just kept on playing and found a way to win a lot of games, that’s one thing I will say about this group, they kept on playing,” he said. “They just fought hard until there was nothing but zeroes on the clock and as a coach, you can’t ask for anything more.”
Bedford will now play second-ranked Portsmouth next Tuesday in the semi-finals, with the winner facing either top-ranked Bishop Guertin or four-ranked Goffstown for the title next Sunday at UNH.