Published DateGILFORD — The Gilford High School girls' varsity basketball team was knocked out of the Division III tournament on Saturday with a 46-14 setback against fourth-seeded White Mountains Regional. Coach Rick Forge said the Gilford team, which will graduate six seniors this year, will return next year as a showcase of young, promising talent.
It was a cold shooting Eagle club that found itself on the opposite side of a hot shooting Spartan squad on Saturday. White Mountains shot 10 for 14 beyond the arc, including their first six three-point attempts by Kaitlin Wood. Wood finished the day with seven three-pointers to tie a tournament record. The Spartans jumped out to an 11-4 lead after the first quarter and the Eagles, who shot only 11 percent on the night, found themselves behind 27-8 at the break. The second half was all White Mountains as they rolled into the semi finals. For Gilford, who end their season at 15-5, freshman Cassidy Bartlett led in scoring with 10 points. Gilford will graduate six seniors, including Molly Dietrich, Sarah Veazey, Paige Laliberte, Sophie Brunt, Hayley Jakubens and Abby Harris.
Harris had effectively already left the lineup by the time tournament season arrived, explained Forge, as a knee injury left her sidelined. Harris, a forward, brought a physicality and leadership element that he missed on Saturday against White Mountains. "Her court presenece was very important," he said. Referring to her season-ending injury, "That certainly affected us." Likewise, he expects to feel the loss of the other five graduating seniors when the season starts next year. "Losing six players like that is difficult to replace all at once," he said.
Athough he expects to experience a few "growing pains" in the near future, Forge has reason to be optimistic for the medium- to long-term. "We have a very good freshmen group coming up." Bartlett, as well as fellow freshmen Jordan Dean, Maddie Harris and Shannon Mercer could all earn starting roles next year, he said. "That's a very talented group." In addition, he noted that the junior varsity team went undefeated this year, and the eighth graders hold similar promise. "The program is very solid," he said.
"We played very well this year. With the exception of a couple of blips, we played exceptionally well." Forge also enjoyed the new alignment of districts within the NHIAA, a change that saw local teams all competing in Division III. "It was fun in the Lakes Region, on any given night, anybody and beat anybody. I think basketball in the Lakes Region was exciting this year," he said, adding that he was eager to see what his team would be able to do next year.