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Conant girls basketball wins opener

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.

    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team takes on Campbell in the season opener on Dec. 4, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

It was not the easiest of draws for a season opener.

The Conant girls basketball team, with just eight players in the program and no junior varsity team, had perennial power Campbell first on the 2012-13 schedule. The Cougars had already dismantled Mascenic by 45 points in their opener and were coming off a fifth straight Division III title game appearance.

But the Orioles were not intimidated by the Campbell mystique. They were playing on their home floor, in their season opener and it provided a chance to kick off the season with a victory against a quality opponent.

And that is exactly what Conant did.

The Orioles sent a statement to the rest of Division III that they are back in the title discussion with a 55-37 victory over Campbell.

“I didn’t like the opener being against Campbell, but what are you going to do?” said Conant coach Nick Hill.

After years of battling each other twice a year in the regular season and a few times in the playoffs, the Cougars grabbed the upper hand in the rivalry with a season sweep last season. Conant lost both by double digits, including a 36-point drubbing at Pratt Auditorium last January.

But things have changed. Campbell lost a pair of starters from the team that was upset in last year’s finals and Conant has improved its roster, mostly because of the addition of freshman Madison Springfield. Springfield finished with a game-high 28 points, including going 6-for-9 from the free throw line, 13 rebounds and four steals.

“It’s always nice to come out and get a win in your first game and start the season off right,” said senior Teresa DiTommaso, who had five points and five rebounds.

Springfield is a star in the making, but the reason the Orioles were able to hand Campbell a double-digit loss was because of all eight players. Each one contributed to the victory in one way or another and it bodes well moving forward.

“The thing we stress is team, team, team. There’s no I in team and they know that. Everybody’s got a role on this team,” said Hill. “We’ve only got eight girls so a lot of people have to play valuable minutes.”

Sophomore Katie Chadbourne began the scoring with a three. After Campbell took a 4-3 edge, Springfield scored five straight for a four-point lead.

Much like Conant battled back to take the lead, so did the Cougars. Five straight Campbell points made it a one-point deficit before Chadbourne, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, drained her second three-pointer.

Following Springfield’s three-point play with the game tied at 11, Conant never trailed again. Campbell pulled to within two on three occasions in the second quarter only to have the Orioles respond on the offensive end.

Through much of the first half Campbell tried a full-court press on the Orioles, but it didn’t work. The Orioles had just one turnover and converted numerous easy baskets. With a number of players able to handle the ball, Conant broke down the pressure with ease.

“I felt we did a very good job of moving the ball quick, getting the ball in and didn’t allow ourselves to get trapped,” said Hill. “Overall I thought we did a good job of handling the pressure.”

Behind Springfield’s 14 first-half points, Conant led 28-23 at the half and then dominated the final 16 minutes.

“I told my girls that it’s kind of a benchmark to see where we’re at,” said Hill.

The lead grew to as many as 12 in the third quarter as the Orioles’ defense clamped down and contested every shot. Campbell is a team that lives and dies by the three and Conant made sure it was the latter on Tuesday.

“Against Mascenic they had about nine threes so we knew they were a good shooting team and the three is their shot,” said Springfield. “So we had to get out on the shooters.”

At the start of the fourth, the Orioles led by 10 and a 6-2 run in the opening minutes made it a 14-point edge. Campbell never got any closer than 12.

Conant shot 38 percent from the floor and owned a 34-24 edge in rebounds, despite allowing Campbell to grab 14 offensive boards. As a team, the Orioles were 12-for-27 from the free throw line, while Campbell was 11-of-24.

“We need to rebound and get our butts into those girls. We need to limit their shots,” said DiTommaso. “We definitely have a lot to work on, but everybody knows their roles and what they have to do.”

The Orioles travel to Monadnock tonight and will play at Mascenic on Tuesday as part of a varsity doubleheader beginning with the girls game at 5:30 p.m.

“Now the other teams are going to know that Conant is the real deal,” said Springfield. “We are a better than we were and they’re going to have to work hard to beat us.”

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