North Country roars back to defeat Eagle girls’ basketball
BRISTOL — A Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ basketball team that has been playing well ran into another hot team on Saturday and came up short, 53-42, to visiting North Country.
The Division I Falcons made it six straight wins by erasing the Eagles’ 25-18 halftime lead with a 14-3 run out of the locker room, during which junior standout Kylie Wright hit three three-pointers and scored 11 of her game-high 24 points.
NCU led after three periods, 36-35, and pulled away in the fourth quarter to improve to 9-4. They sank seven shots from behind the arc in all.
Meanwhile, the Eagles saw their three-game winning streak snapped, a streak that included a win at Middlebury on Wednesday in which junior forward Emma Carter erupted for 40 points, and dropped to 8-6. They are in sixth place in D-II.
But while the Falcons were draining three-pointers, the Eagles were missing layups, several uncontested in the second half.
“We got the looks,” said Eagle Coach Connie LaRose. “We worked hard, but I’m not sure the focus was there the way it needed to be.”
The Falcons also paid extra attention to Carter, holding her to 11 points by faceguarding her in their man-to-man defense and triple-teaming her when she touched the ball. LaRose said the Falcons might have been paying a little too close attention.
“I thought there was a ton of contact on Carter that I thought was not getting whistled,” she said.
LaRose also said the Eagles remain a work in progress, especially because two key players, junior forward Emma Radler and junior guard Abby Mansfield, have just returned after missing the season’s first two months due to injury.
On Saturday they formed a seven-deep rotation with Carter (12 rebounds), sophomore forward Jalen Cook (13 points, eight rebounds), junior forward Olivia Young (six points), and junior guards Emma LaRose (three assists) and Vanessa Dykstra (four points). Radler chipped in six points, and Mansfield added four assists and scrappy defense.
At times the group gelled well, but LaRose said it will take a few more practices and games for the Eagles to be their best.
“We’re still finding our way, developing our confidence for some of the other kids to shoot, to take the shot when it’s there. I know sometimes we’re not patient enough with our offense,” she said. “But I think we’re much improved over those December games, much better than we were, and we’re going to continue to get better.”
The Eagles used a big edge on the boards (17-9 in the first half, counting team rebounds, and a late second-period run to take their halftime lead. The Eagles led, 10-8, after one, as they scored six points in transition with LaRose keying the break and Young scoring four points.
Radler came off the bench to score six in the second period and help the Eagles to a 17-10 lead, but Falcon Carley Giroux (21 points) broke loose for seven points in the quarter, and a Wright three made it 19-18.
The Eagles answered with six points in the final minute to lead by seven at the break: a Carter hoop in the lane, two Dykstra free throws at 0:11, and then a Carter steal and layup in the final seconds.
But Wright came out firing for NCU to open the second half, scoring in transition and then swishing two threes to give the Falcons the lead, 26-25, and forcing LaRose to call time at 6:05. After a Giroux free throw, a Carter three-point play inside made it 28-27, Eagles at 4:59, but that was their last lead, although five points from Cook and a LaRose kept it a one-point game after three.
The teams traded hoops early in the fourth, but two Giroux free throws at 5:16 followed by Wright going coast-to-coast with a rebound made it 46-39 at 5:00, and the Eagles came no closer than five points the rest of the way.
LaRose called her team a work in progress, and said she expects them to be ready for the postseason.
“I think we wouldn’t want to be a team to play against by the end of the season,” she said. “They’re working hard every day in practice and they’re getting better.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.
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