BG girls edge Bedford

NASHUA – The Bedford High School girls basketball was about to hurry down the court with a chance to tie, or win, its Feb. 26 game against Bishop Guertin.

The Bulldogs had fought back from an eight-point deficit with 40 seconds to play to trail by two, and after a missed free throw by Bishop Guertin, Bedford’s Courtney O’Connell grabbed the rebound.

But O’Connell lost her balance as she got rid of the ball, and her pass to Nikki Tucci wasn’t as quick as it could have been. Bishop Guertin’s Meghan Cramb caught up to Tucci as she tried to advance the ball, took it away and was fouled with 3.4 seconds remaining.

Cramb stepped to the line and made both free throws to put away the Cardinals’ 54-50 win over Bedford, a win that gives Bishop Guertin the No. 1 seed in the Division I tournament, which began on Wednesday.

"I wasn’t thinking about anything," Cramb said of the free throws. "I couldn’t hear the fans. I just took a deep breath and got into the zone. I like being in that spot. I like having the pressure on me."

The junior finished with 14 points for the Cardinals (17-1), who have won 14 games in a row, while Abbi Field, Caroline Hoffer and Rachel Marion each added eight points.

"We told the kids coming in, and at halftime when we were up three (points), that’s a team that’s not going to lay down," Bishop Guertin coach Brad Kreick said. "They have proven kids over there. We knew they were going to play 32 minutes. The fact that our kids kept calm, every time that Bedford scratched and clawed its way back, get it within a few points or a tie game, our kids responded pretty well and kept playing."

The Cardinals appeared to be in control when Marie Laplante hit two free throws to make it 52-44 with 49.3 seconds left to play. But the Bulldogs (15-3) answered right away with a 3-pointer by Tucci, and with the possession arrow in its favor, Bedford got the ball back when it tied up the inbounds pass.

Tucci hit another 3-pointers, this one with under 30 seconds to play, to make it a two-point game, and once again, the Bulldogs tied up possession. Bedford took a timeout, and this time, the Cardinals were able to advance the ball, working about 10 seconds off the clock before the Bulldogs were able to foul.

"I think our team got a little nervous, but we were able to hold our composure and run our press break and get it up the floor," Cramb said. "We stayed composed and kept our heads up. We felt like still had the clock on our side."

The Cardinals were composed throughout, even as the lead changed hands seven times in the first half. Bishop Guertin led 24-21 at halftime, but Bedford quickly tied the game on a 3-pointer by Madeline Blake to open the third.

But baskets by Field and Hoffer, followed by a 3 by Molly Dee, gave Bishop Guertin a 31-24 lead with 3:58 left in the quarter. The Bulldogs closed the gap, but couldn’t make it a one-possession game until late in the fourth.

"It’s such a different group and they’ve really grown up a lot throughout the course of the year," Kreick said. "I think we really kept focusing with them all week was playing the game on our terms and doing what we’ve done. Not overthinking it, and I thought they did a really good job keeping their composure throughout the game."