Titans best Tomahawks in girls tournament
Friday, January 4, 2013
NASHUA – Trailing 23-18 at halftime, Nashua High School North girls basketball coach Ricky Oliver had a simple message for his team: “Just do work.”
That’s just what the Titans did, outscoring Merrimack 50-16 in the second half on their way to a 68-34 win at the Nashua North Girls Holiday Classic on Friday night.
Sophomore guard Taylor Choate led the second-half charge, scoring 19 of her game-high 21 points in the final two quarters, including the go-ahead score 4:27 into the third quarter to put North up 28-25 after completing a 3-point play at the rim.
“She’s our best player,” Oliver said of Choate. “We feed off of what she does. She’s the beacon, we try to set our stars around what she’s doing, and everybody else feeds off of it.”
The Titans continued to push the pace from there, completing a 9-0 run capped off by a Sara Cordova 3-pointer to make it 34-25 with 2:55 left in the quarter. The Tomahawks kept the North lead at nine, trading baskets the next two trips down the floor, but the Titans finished the quarter on yet another run, and Emmary Nelson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 45-29 after three quarters.
North continued to pour it on in the fourth quarter, outscoring Merrimack 23-5 by keeping the defensive intensity up and forcing the Tomahawks to make mistakes on both ends of the floor.
“We’re pretty deep,” Oliver said. “We just have to do the things that we know that we have to do. We’ve gotta defend, contest shots and get rebounds, and that’s what we did.”
The second half couldn’t have been more forgettable for Merrimack, especially after the way the first half went.
The Tomahawks had control throughout the first half, only trailing once the entire 16 minutes of play when Choate intercepted a pass at half court and finished an easy lay-up to put the Titans up 3-2.
A pair of Kaitlyn Petrocelli free-throws gave Merrimack the lead with 4:34 remaining in the first quarter, and Tomahawks continued to build upon that lead with a 9-0 run highlighted by a Lauren Dubois 3-pointer from the corner off the inbound to make it 11-3 with less than three minutes left in the quarter.
However, that was when North started to claw its way back, cutting the deficit to four until a couple of quick Merrimack buckets made it 23-18 at the half.
Tomahawks coach Shawn Flynn had no plausible explanation for what happened from there.
“We kind of shut down in that second half,” he said. “We had no intensity, I thought we stopped hustling all over the court. They turned over every loose ball, and from there is turned into lay-up practice for (North). We just didn’t play defense.
“If you look at first half to second half it’s like Jekyll and Hyde. We had minimal turnovers in the first half, and then second half a lot of turnovers. It really was a tale of two cities. I don’t even know what it was.”
The only other player in double-figures behind Choate was Kara Upton with 10, while Kate Cole (seven points), Maddie Freed (six) and Petrocelli (six) carried the scoring load for Merrimack, making the case for a shutdown defensive effort by the Titans.
“Every team that we’ve played so far has pressure us pretty good,” Flynn said. “I don’t really care, press us, don’t press us, full-court man, it doesn’t matter to us on pressure. I think we just had an off switch, and the ball hit it. That’s the bottom line.”