Bulldogs finish strong, topple MAU
MANCHESTER — The Burr and Burton girls basketball team finally finished the job.
BBA had been struggling to close out games, but came through Monday night with a 41-34 win against rival Mount Anthony on Senior Night.
With two games before the Division I tournament, picking up a win like this gives the Bulldogs some much needed confidence that they can finish games and hang with some of the state's better teams.
"This was the next step in our process in growing as a team," said BBA coach Erin Mears. "We talked about that a lot in practice this week. We're right there, but we just need to execute down in the fourth quarter. We didn't want get down in the third and I think we did a good job doing both today."
The Bulldogs were especially strong late in the contest, outscoring the Patriots 11-8 in the final quarter. BBA shot 12-for-15 at the charity stripe for the game and that made a major difference.
From the first jump, the Patriots struggled to avoid turnovers. In crucial spots, MAU tried to force a few passes and it cost them as the Bulldogs' potent defense was quick to swarm to the ball.
For Patriots coach AJ Mahar, he felt like BBA wanted it more Monday night and that made all the difference.
"We were pretty flat from the opening tip as a whole group," Mahar said. "Burr and Burton came out with a ton of energy on Senior Night. We could never get anything going the whole night."
MAU did a fairly strong job defensively themselves, but had no answer for Bulldogs sophomore forward Carol Herbert.
Herbert got to the rim at will and whatever defender the Patriots threw at her couldn't stop her. She scored a game-high 17 points and was a strong 5-for-6 from the free throw line. She added eight rebounds to her line as well.
"She just played harder in the post than anybody we had in the post. It came down to effort and wanting it more. She wanted it more tonight," Mahar said.
MAU led 12-9 after one quarter, behind six points from Grace Mahar. Grace Mahar was held scoreless in the second quarter, where BBA took the momentum and a four-point halftime lead.
A major focus for the Bulldogs was keeping Grace Mahar in check and for the most part, they did. The junior had a team-high 15 points, but never was allowed to get going consistently.
BBA guards Grace Pinkus and Cassie Pearce drew the tough defensive assignment of slowing her down and more than held their own.
"They did excellent on her. We wanted to stop [Grace] Mahar first and we also knew [Cat] Worthington could really catch fire," Mears said. "Grace Pinkus played her more in the first half and did a great job on her and we switched up looks in the second and put Cassie on [Grace Mahar] and put Grace Pinkus on Cat and they came through."
Worthington added 13 for MAU as well on a trio of 3's.
With Monday being Senior Night, BBA honored its own seniors (Brianna Mayne, Sydney Goldfarb, Cassie Pearce and manager Madison Heaton) and MAU's seniors (Sam White, Cat Worthington, Caroline Musinski, Tori Pembroke and Taylor Andrews) before the game.
The Bulldogs improve to 8-10, while the Patriots fall to 10-9 with the loss.
BBA plays at Brattleboro on Thursday, while MAU is home against Rutland the same day as they look to lock up a Marble Valley League title.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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