NEWPORTâ€“It is going to be a tough battle for the 5-15 North Country girls basketball team on Wednesday when they take on the 15-5 Rice Green Knights in South Burlington.
In the team's two meetings, the number two seeded Rice handily beat the Falcons by an average of twenty-four points, utilizing their size to overpower the Falcons.
North Country was hoping to get a first round contest with Colchester, a team that they match-up with more favorably, and thus an easier road through the bracket.
What the Falcons are going to have to do is put their bigger players like Noelle Pinard, Michaela Stanley, and Britni Jewer into positions where they can try to provide an answer to the Green Knight's size advantage.
Anna Bingham and Emma Joslin must make their shots, especially from the outside, which in turn can open up the inside for the taller North Country players.
It is not just those two that must score, Pinard has lead the team in scoring in several of the team's final games, and she will need more help from the likes of Desiree Coffin, Kelsey O'Donnell, and everybody else who is on the floor with her.
On defense, as has been on display in the latter stages of the regular season, North Country has been able to shut down good teams early, keeping the contests close early.
By avoiding large first half deficits, the Falcons have stayed in games, and positioned themselves to win in the fourth quarter.
Coach Brown's goal down the stretch, as I have stated before, is to have her girls playing at their best when the play-offs rolled around, and now here we are.
Looking specifically at the last game against Essex, you can not really ask much more out of the team then what they gave last Friday. They did all the little things that they needed to do in order put themselves in a position to win, despite the eventual outcome.
Bottom line: They must play thirty-two minutes of top flight basketball, making the most of their scoring opportunities, and forcing Rice into uncomfortable situations that somehow put their size at a disadvantage. If they can do this, they will increase their odds of success, and could replicate teh boys hockey teamsâ€™ success on last Saturday and pick up the upset.