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Birds are back on top

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant’s Delaney Beaven gets off a baseline J against Newport Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant girls' basketball team hosted Newport to open the season on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, December 04, 2017

Down 14 to Newport in the second half, the Conant girls could have been forgiven for being gloomy. But Mariah Chamberlain and the Orioles weren’t down a bit.

“I was a little bit nervous,” Chamberlain said, “but I know how much fight we have, so I always know in the back of my mind we can come back from anything.”

Conant found themselves in that fight after digging a big hole early in their season opener, at home against Selena Coronis and the Tigers.

“They came out really strong and I think they came out stronger than we expected,” Chamberlain said.

Between Coronis’s ball-handling skill and aggression and 5’11” senior center Alexis Hurd’s inside/outside game, the Tigers showed their claws and jumped out to a 30-22 lead by halftime. Hurd finished with a team-high 15 with three three-pointers.

“Shots weren't really falling,” said Conant head coach Brian Troy. “Credit Newport, they have a lot of good players. The big girl was a big problem.”

Conant started out slow, due in part to the absence of starters Camri Aho and Taylor Banish, who both sat out the first quarter after missing a week of practice due to family Thanksgiving vacations (“no fault of their own,” Troy said). Once those two got back in, the Orioles found a little spark to go with Chamberlain’s inside presence. Alaskan import Elizabeth Gonyea (nine points) showed promise on the wing, Delaney Beaven played lockdown defense, and Silas Bernier (seven points) was fearless at the point guard position.

Despite all that, Newport was up 14 at one point in the second half and took a nine-point lead into the third. Everything would have to go right down the stretch for Conant to have a chance.

Everything did.

Newport tried to slow the pace and swing the ball around to kill time, and Conant showed some man pressure to counteract it. The pressure got to the Tigers. Bernier forced a steal and made a flying layup to cut the lead to seven. Then, Banish hit her defender with a mean behind-the-back dribble and dime to Chamberlain, who scored and made it a five-point game. Chamberlain scored again on a putback and all of a sudden it was 41-38 Newport.

“They just fought hard, got steals when we needed to, big rebounds when we needed them,” Troy said.

Aho hit a free throw; Coronis responded with a pair of her own to make it 43-39. Banish scored on a tough drive, and Coronis answered back again; 45-41 and just a minute left.

Conant brought the ball down and found Bernier in the corner with the game on the line. She banged home a three.

“That was just a dagger,” Troy said. “She stepped in with confidence and was money.”

Coronis was fouled and missed her free throw, and the Orioles rushed the ball upcourt and called timeout. Off the inbounds, the ball got to Aho, who shot an elbow jumper. The ball clanged off the iron to the middle of the paint, where Chamberlain was waiting. She ripped down the board amidst a sea of Newport bodies.

“I knew I had to get it and go right back up and just hope for the best, try to get the best shot I could,” Chamberlain said.

The junior center put the ball back up and it dropped in with just 1.7 seconds left. Conant briefly celebrated, but the clock had not fully expired. The Orioles defended the long inbound attempt and it was all over, a 46-45 win. Chamberlain finished with a game-high 17.

“They just fought hard, they didn't give up, and I think that's going to be our identity all season,” Troy said.

Conant (1-0) has a tough test tonight, as they travel to Monadnock (1-0) for a championship rematch with the defending champ Huskies at 7 p.m.