By HARRY KOZLOWSKI
SPECIAL TO THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The girls’ final in the 42nd annual Holiday Basketball tournament will be a rematch of crosstown rivals Laconia and Gilford. It could also be a playoff finals preview.
The Sachems and Bears, both 5-0 in the regular season, are two of Division III’s best teams and will face off Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Gilford High School. The boys’ final will pit Winnisquam against either Kingswood or Gilford at 6 p.m.
“Last year was a blast. I expect nothing less this year,” said Sachems coach Jeff Greeley. Laconia beat Gilford in last year’s tourney.
“We had four very good games with Laconia. They beat us by three in the tournament,” said Golden Eagles coach Rick Forge. “But we beat them twice in the regular season and in the playoffs.”
Laconia reached the final with a 69-34 win over Winnisquam. The Sachems turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to force the Bears into turnovers and then scored points in transition.
“We talked all year long about the defense being the catalyst to get us going,” said Sachems coach Jeff Greeley. “Our main focus is to start defensively and cause some things to happen that give us easy buckets.”
Helen Tautkus, normally a starter for Laconia, came off the bench this game to jump start her team.
“I thought she did a great job at just giving us a spark off the bench,” said Greeley who said his team had lacked energy at times in other games. “And she definitely did that in the third quarter.”
Tautkus scored 7 of her 17 points in the third. Kailey Nute led all scorers with 21 and Calyce Swormstedt dropped in 16.
In the second semi, Brooke Beaudet’s 27 points paced Gilford to a 67-37 victory over Newfound. Beaudet hit six three-point shots. “We’ve been fortunate and the kids have really stepped up this year. They’re playing some good ball,” said Forge.
Forge watched Laconia press Winnisquam but feels his squad will be ready to take on the Sachem’s defensive pressure.
“They run the court very well. We match up with speed with them. I expect it will be the same type of game as last year, coming down to the fourth quarter, the team that makes the fewest mistakes,” said Forge.
Ashlee Duquette led Newfound with 10 points.
Things didn’t go as well for the Sachem boys (3-0) as they fell 90-61 to 4-0 Winnisquam; a surprising result considering both teams are undefeated in the regular season.
Laconia couldn’t keep up with the Bears who were led by Christian Serrano with 26 points. Mike Lowery had 14 with four three-pointers and Tim Harmon added 13. Andre McNeil led the Sachems with 17.
Girls consolation: Belmont-31 Propect Mtn-25, Kingswood-45 Moultonborough-33
Boys consolation: Belmont-58 Propect Mtn-49, Newfound-52 Moultonborough-31
Kingswood vs. Gilford boys game did not finish by deadline.