HB girls ousted in playoffs

HOLLIS – The music was blaring thanks to the student band in the corner of the Hollis Brookline High School gym on Tuesday night.

But there was no celebrating to go with it. Even though home was where the wins were when it came to regular season battles between the Cavs and the Oyster River Bobcats, that wasn’t the case when it counted most as the visitors escaped with a 48-42 Division II girls basketball preliminary round win.

"I really thought we had a good game plan," Cavaliers coach Bob Murphy said, his eighth-seeded team done at 10-9. "I was really hoping to get to that Friday (quarterfinal) game, and see what the No. 1 team (Porstmouth) looked like."

But that won’t happen, despite the fact the Cavs ran out to an 11-2 lead and were up 19-13 at the half and finally 31-30 at the end of the third quarter. It was even amazing the locals, who were led by Cassandra Stapelfeld’s 16 points, were up going into the final eight minutes as they recovered from a 13-0 Bobcat run in the third. That stretch turned a comfy 23-15 Cavs’ lead into a brief
28-25 deficit and the game was never the same.

"We were trying to play aggressive man to man defense," Murphy said. "But there’s usually one girl on this team that hurts us, somebody we don’t expect."

That someone was Bobcat senior Samantha Walker, who hit for a game-high 20 points, including a key layup to give OR the lead for good, 37-35 with 5:11 left, plus jumpers to make it 42-37 lead with 2:55 to play and 46-42 with 25 seconds left.

"Sam Walker had the game of her life," Oyster River coach Don Maynard said as his No. 9, 11-8 team advances to the quarters. "She never scored close to 20 points. Bu the best part of her game was her defense on the ball in the second half. She just played the game of her life. … Our defense has gotten better and better the last six games."

The Cavs couldn’t really get Stapelfeld untracked, as she had eight points in each half but was also the only HB player in double figures.

"When she scores big, it’s a combination of the outside and the inside," Murphy said. "She really didn’t have much of that the last two games against these guys."

Murphy had seen this before, as the ‘Cats rallied from 11 down at halftime to win 64-54 in Durham nearly a month ago. Joanna Balsamo had nine and Elizabeth Atkinson eight for HB, while Sara Messier chipped in with 13 points and Caitlyn Miller nine for the Bobcats, whose seniors had never won a first round tourney game.

The Cavs do have all five starers back. "Maybe next year," Murphy said.