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ConVal girls basketball dominates in home opener

  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal girls basketball team picked up a 49-4 win over Manchester West on Dec. 11, 2012 at Great Brook School in Antrim<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

There are two pieces of paper taped to the wall in the Great Brook School gymnasium.

One has a list of names with daily foul shot totals next to them and the other has the same list for an 11-man drill. Both are part of the practice routine for the ConVal girls basketball program. And they are hanging there because the Cougars now call Great Brook home.

With the ongoing renovations to the ConVal gymnasium, the Cougars-along with the rest of the school’s winter sports teams-have been displaced and will not play any games in the comforts of home.

“It’s different in the fact that it doesn’t feel like home, but we’re here as ConVal and we play as ConVal here and it’s our gym so I guess it’s becoming home for us,” said senior Marena Brock.

So after opening the season with a lopsided road loss at Windham, ConVal played its first game in the school district middle school on Tuesday night against Manchester West and came away with a convincing 49-4 win.

“I think the lighting is actually better than it was in the ConVal gym,” said junior Jess Nerz. “And there’s not as many dead spots so I really can’t complain. We’ll have a new gym next year.”

It was a good start to the team’s home schedule — one that will be put on hold for quite some time. The original thought was that the construction would be done in time to play some games at ConVal in February. So Athletic Director Jon Hall back-loaded the schedule to get as many games in the renovated facility as possible. But that will not be the case as the completion date is now projected in March.

“It was pretty disappointing. Not that I expected to be able to play in it, but when you’ve got hope to play in a brand new gym you’re disappointed,” said Brock. “But it doesn’t really matter where we play, it’s how we play.”

After Tuesday’s game, the Cougars will play 10 straight road games, including three in the annual Keene State Holiday Tournament, before finally returning to Great Brook on Jan. 25. ConVal will also play seven straight home games, which includes a Saturday game in February against Pelham, to close out the regular season.

But even though it is not the same gym they are used to, everyone is making the most of it.

“The gym, because we have practiced a lot here, that wasn’t as big of a difference,” said Pickering. “It was more about where is the team room and what is the routine that we want to get in with the different facility, but for the most part we feel comfortable.”

There are no giant blue bleachers, championship banners or the traditional exit point from the locker room, but this group isn’t about to let it affect the way they play.

“It’s a little weird to not be playing in your home gym, but I went to middle school here so it’s kind of like my home gym,” said Nerz. “The atmosphere is still the same. We still have the same warm-up going and we have the same coach.”

Like with any home opener, there were some early jitters. ConVal struggled on offense in the first and led just 4-0 until sophomore Megan Buydos hit one of two free throws with 15.2 seconds left in the first quarter to make it a 5-0 lead.

“Once we got our nerves out and really got into the flow of things, that was kind of the turning point,” said Nerz.

Manchester West is still trying to find its competitive balance since losing athletes from Bedford due to the opening of Bedford High School in 2007. The Blue Knights girls basketball team was 1-17 last year and scored just 15 points in their season-opening loss.

Alexandra Ricard, who finished with all four points for the Blue Knights, finally got Manchester West on the scoreboard with a lay-up 31 seconds into the second quarter, but from there it was all ConVal. The Cougars scored 20 straight points to close out the second quarter, 10 from Nerz, and took a 25-5 lead into the half.

“I think it was just a matter of making a couple shots, getting a couple steals so we get some easy ones,” said Pickering. “We started to relax on offense and that was the difference.”

Nerz would add 10 more of her game-high 22 in the third, as ConVal outscored the Blue Knights 22-0 in the third and led 47-2.

Pickering, who had rotated in all nine varsity players during the first three quarters, put in a junior varsity group to play the final eight minutes.

Nerz was the only ConVal player in double figures. Brock, senior Lauren Mackey and junior Emmasae Hallen each had six.

ConVal plays at Milford tonight and Monadnock on Tuesday.

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