Bedford girls surge in second half, stay unbeaten with win over Goffstown

Jan. 21—BEDFORD — The Goffstown High School girls basketball team looked poised to hand Bedford its first NHIAA Division I loss of the season on Friday night.

Then the Bulldogs got the ball to Lana McCarthy in the paint.

Bedford erased a 10-point halftime deficit and defeated the Grizzlies, 64-51, behind McCarthy's dominant second-half effort and the Bulldogs' full-court press over the final 16 minutes.

In a matchup of top-tier teams, Goffstown (7-2) led, 35-25, at halftime. The Grizzlies trailed, 17-16, after the first quarter but opened the second frame with an 8-0 run and ended the first half on an 11-5 run by creating turnovers and scoring in their transition offense.

"It was two games — first half, second half," said Bedford coach Kevin Gibbs, whose team improved to 9-0. "They made us play their game and we weren't doing the things that are usually the things that are effective for us (in the first half). ... The adjustment in the second half was very simple: full-court man — on every dead ball and every make and then stop futzing around with having Lana out on the perimeter."

Despite being double- and triple-teamed after halftime, McCarthy powered Bedford's comeback, scoring 17 of her 19 points in the second half and grabbing 22 rebounds.

The junior forward gave Bedford the lead for good with her putback layup with 6:36 remaining that made it 43-42 Bulldogs. McCarthy also scored the first seven points of the second half to pull the Bulldogs within three and tallied 10 points overall in the third quarter to trim Goffstown's lead to 40-39 entering the fourth.

"Personally, what I had to do was get strong positioning," McCarthy said. "Because if I'm visible and I can get the ball, I can go to work. I feel like I'm hard to stop if I have the ball."

Goffstown coach Steve Largy said his team did not execute in the second half as well defensively as it did in the first half. Gibbs said he felt Bedford's full-court press limited the Grizzlies' scoring opportunities, drained the clock and forced them to throw the ball away.

The Grizzlies also limited senior captain and forward Ava Winterburn's second-half minutes after she picked up her fourth foul midway through the third quarter. Winterburn finished with a team-high 17 points alongside five fouls and three rebounds. She also served as Goffstown's primary defender on McCarthy.

"We tried to limit it as much as we can but I mean when you're playing against a kid like (McCarthy), you're going to eat some fouls eventually," Largy said. "It's just going to happen and we helped as much as we could to kind of protect (Winterburn) but then as soon as she got the fourth, we knew we were kind of in damage control a little bit there."

Gibbs said the attention McCarthy drew in the paint opened up looks for her teammates. Sophomore Kate Allard logged a double-double on a game-high 26 points, including 15 in the first half, and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Senior Sydney Grogan added 10 points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds for Bedford.

Junior guard Maggie Sasso recorded 12 points and eight rebounds and senior guard Ava Ruggiero added nine points for Goffstown.

"They had the first hit but we came out and hit back harder," McCarthy said.

ahall@unionleader.com