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White Mountains hoop girls upset Newfound in overtime

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Lexi Welch played a great game of defense against a tough Newfound during a home game on Jan. 19 Tara Giles. (click for larger version)
January 24, 2018
WHITEFIELD — The Newfound High School girls' basketball team has lost one game all season before the White Mountains Regional Spartans delivered them a second. Spartan Kaitlyn Nelson sunk a three-point shot that tied the game 41-41 with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime.

Bri Watson kicked the game off with a layup then snagged her own rebound to keep possession. The Bears grabbed ahold of the ball but Lexi Welch blocked a pass and broke up an offensive play. Spartan Jaycee Murray dashed to the net and scored two to put the Spartans up 4-0 with 5:15 on the clock. The Bears added one point from the foul line, then tied the game with a three. Watson grabbed the rebound then sent it over to Makenna Force, who scored a three-point basket to put her team up 7-4. Newfound scored two on a layup after a long pass down the court to make it a one-point game. Watson answered with a layup then added another point at the foul line. Watson wasn't done, and put up two more points with 1:26 left in the first quarter. Nelson added one from the free throw line to put White Mountains up 13-6. Welch plowed through the Newfound defense like they were standing still and scored two on a layup but Newfound answered with a basket. The first quarter ended with the Spartans up 15-8.

Newfound started to play catch up in the second quarter and scored two points right off the bat from the foul line, followed by two layups to tie the game 15-15 with 4:42 on the clock. The Bears took the lead after a nine-point run and were up 23-15. The Spartans remained calm and slowly but surely closed the gap. Watson scored another basket then added one point after getting fouled. With 24 seconds left in the quarter, freshman Lily Kenison made an impressive three-point shot that put the Spartans closer to the Bears.

During the third quarter, Watson scored six of the Spartans' 10 points, with Welch and Nelson each adding two. The Bears scored just four points. White Mountains headed into the fourth quarter up 31-27.

Quarter four began with Force scoring two but Newfound answered with a three-point basket. The score was 33-30 for the Spartans with 5:17 on the clock. Welch added one point from the foul line but Newfound continued to rally and closed the gap to 34-32 and then added one from the foul line to make it a one-point game. Watson put the Spartans up with another layup but the Bears battled back and took the 38-36 lead. With one minute left on the clock, the Bears were up 40-36. Watson added two from the foul line and gave the Spartans hope. With 22 seconds left in the game, Newfound added one point from the foul line. The score was 41-38 with 15 seconds left and Newfound was looking like they had secured the win, but Nelson smashed that dream after she tied the game with a three-point shot. After the crowd settled down, the four-minute overtime quarter began.

Watson scored on a layup to take the lead, but Newfound added one at the foul line. Nelson snagged the rebound after a failed three-point shot attempt from the Bears. Watson added two more from the foul line and Newfound sunk a three to tie the game once more, 45-45. Newfound took the lead after another foul shot. Watson answered with a layup to put the Spartans up 47-46 and Murray added two from the free throw line. The score was 49-46 with 33 seconds left. Watson added three more from the foul line to put the Spartans up 52-46 and Nelson sealed the deal by sinking two more foul shots to put White Mountains in the winner's circle, 54-46.

Watson was the high scorer for the Spartans with 29 points.

Coach Brent Covell, who was clearly pleased with his team, said, "I was so excited to see Bri play with such fire. She had the best game I've ever seen her play. We executed on offense and on defense. Makenna Force had 13 rebounds, Kaitlyn Nelson had 14 and Bri had 18. We only gave up a handful of offensive rebounds. They came down, shot and missed and we rebounded all night long. I was so pleased with the intensity and heart these girls played with. We didn't sub much tonight and the girls who did get in the game came in and did their jobs. Lexi and Jaycee were huge on the top of our defense and made Newfound guards work all night on both ends of the floor. I hope it helps our girls understand that they can compete with any team, and win. It was a great game, and I am so proud of the whole team."

Force added, "We worked our tails off and it paid off. We never ever gave up. We played together as a team and worked for each other. Overall it was the best game I have ever played in."

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