Souhegan has little trouble with Kingswood

AMHERST – The Souhegan girls basketball team won the Division II crown in 2011 and 2012 but were eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs. It was important for the team to gain some momentum from their first-round contest this season if they had any hopes of winning another championship. Well, they certainly found that momentum on Tuesday night as the Sabers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, routing Kingswood 65-30 in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

Souhegan finished the season with a 14-4 record, giving them the three seed in this year’s bracket. In spite of the ranking, the Sabers struggled a bit down the stretch, going 3-3 in their final six games. Still, the team did enough previously to earn home-court advantage in their first playoff game.

“A home playoff game was one of the goals we talking about at the beginning of the year,” Souhegan coach Mike Heaney said. “So to get it and then take care of business, we’re really excited.”

The Sabers were firing on all cylinders to start the game. Souhegan led 21-3 after the first quarter as Jaime King went off for ten points. King finished the game with a game-high 19 points, including three three-pointers.

“The last couple of games she’s been off,” Heaney said. “She’s been frustrated with that and we kept telling her ‘keep shooting’. We knew that shot was going to find itself and it was nice to see it tonight.”

The Sabers kept rolling in the second and the third quarter and held a 46-10 lead heading into the fourth. The Knights finally found their stroke in the final quarter, nailing two threes as they outscored the Sabers 20-9. The rally proved to be too late for Kingswood as the 6-12 squad watched their season come to an end.

While the Souhegan offense certainly put on a passing and scoring display, it was led by the team’s pressure on the defensive end. The Sabers constantly trapped the opposing ball handler and picked off a number of Kingswood passes.

“That was really the focus the last couple of days,” Heaney said, “getting up in passing angles, making it hard for our opponent to run their offense. I thought we did that really well tonight.”

Camden Formby-Lavertu chipped in ten points in the victory while senior forward Emily Gaukstern finished with ten rebounds. The Sabers will take on six-seed Coe-Brown on Friday. Coe-Brown finished the season with a 13-5 record and lost to Souhegan in their first game of the season.