Bulldogs ride ‘Morgan Magic’

BEDFORD – Absolutely smothered by Bedford High (64-35) back in January, you might have expected the No. 14 Nashua North girls to surrender quickly to the Bulldogs and scoot home on Wednesday night in the Division I playoff opener.

Forget it, too much character in this Titan crowd.

North stretched No. 3 Bedford to the absolute limit this time around – when it counted – before grudgingly falling, 70-54.

Four times on the night, the Titans, who needed to win their last three regular-season games just to qualify at 5-13, had a three-ball in the air that could have tied it, the last coming deep in the third quarter.

And were it not for an Alli Morgan miracle in the fourth, the upset might have been reality.

“We had them until Alli hit a couple shots with four minutes left,” lamented North coach Christina Bean.

The “couple shots” were three straight top-of-the-key 3-pointers that took a 50-46 game to a 59-46 game, turning out the lights.

Morgan’s magic was the key stretch of a 14-point fourth-quarter during the junior’s 26-point night.

“I think I was thinking about it a little too much in the first half,” said Morgan. “We didn’t have the momentum we needed, the shots weren’t falling. And they couldn’t miss. We had to combat that with stepping up our defense. And that ultimately led to us hitting shots on the other end.

“Everybody stepped up. The shots were open and I took them confidently. I knew we needed them. It worked out. I’ve always been kind of poised. Ultimately, it was a team win.”

North just had nothing left in the tank after expending what was amazing energy just to hang in there.

Amanda Jonas was immense up front with 16 points for the Bulldogs, while Emma Rosenbaum pitched in 13.

“Truthfully, I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Bean.

“They did everything I asked of them, and then some. And they played hard right to the very end.”

The Titans put four players in double figures, no surprise it was four seniors.

Arianna Motivala led the way with 17 for North, which hit seven-of-18 3-point attempts on the night. Janessa Lofton added 15, while Jaden Smith delivered 14 and Katie Carr 10.

Those four, along with classmates Peyton Ryan, Julia Gagnon and Shannon Grady, will certainly be missed next year.

“Irreplaceable. Losing seven seniors is tough, but these seven is even tougher,” said Bean. “It’s just a lot of girls who play this game with passion and heart. Those are tough shoes to fill.”

Bedford advances to Saturday’s (7 p.m.) state quarterfinals, again here in the “Dog House” against No. 6 Portsmouth.

MERRIMACK GIRLS FALL ON COAST

The Clippers defeated No. 11Merrimack on Wednesday night, 50-31, behind 15 points from Abbe Laurence.

Merrimack, which finishes the year at 9-10, trailed 34-11 through three quarters and just could ignite the engine. The Tomahawks got 12 points from Theresa Twardosky and eight from Makenna Desfosses.

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