Bedford girls hoops reach D-I semifinals

BEDFORD – After having taken down No. 6 Alvirne in the first round, it looked like the No. 11 Merrimack girls basketball team could be headed towards another upset victory.

The Tomahawks had trailed by as many as 10 in the first half, but they managed to quickly claw their way back into the game by the end of the third quarter on Saturday.

Then, the Bulldogs quickly reminded everybody why they finished the regular season in third place. Bedford closed out the game on a commanding 22-6 run, topping Merrimack 52-33 in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs.

Merrimack got on the board early after halftime, when Sara Wozniak hit a quick 3. Then, following a pair of Bedford baskets, Merrimack managed to put together a 9-4 run, cutting their deficit to only three.

However, Bedford’s Alyson Fillion converted on an and-one, starting Bedford’s dominant ending to the game. The Tomahawks only managed to score four points from that point forward, and Bedford pulled away with a combination of defense and offensive rebounds.

The Tomahawks got off to a relatively slow start to the game, trailing by 10 early in the first quarter. Luckily, Jolie Jacoby and Amanda D’Amico both sank 3-pointers to make it 14-7 at the end of the first. The Tomahawks got to the line plenty in the second frame, but the team missed a total nine free throws during the quarter.

"I think the difference maker in the first half was missed free throws," said coach Courtney Cheetham. "Any kid can go practice and make 10-for-10, but then you come in the game and go 5-for-10."

Wozniak led the Tomahawks with 12 points. Jacoby chipped in seven, while Abby Yuan added another five. Bri Purcell led the Bulldogs with 12 points. Bedford took on No. 2 Londonderry in the Division I semifinals on Thursday. Results were not available by Bedford Journal press time.

The Tomahawks finished the season with a 9-10 overall record, which was a drastic improvement over last year’s 2-16 campaign. Cheetham was happy with her team’s improvements, and she looks forward to the future of the program.

"I like to say I’m always proud of how my kids play as long as they leave it all out on the floor," she said. "Merrimack basketball has come a long way, and I’m happy to be a part of it."