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NEWPORTâ€“IT was a tough pill to swallow for the North Country girls basketball team Friday night as a tall, athletic, and quick group of Rice players over-powered the Falcons en-route to the 46-21 win.
"Their pressure clearly affect us," said coach Christiane Brown, "We just need to do a better job of how we react to any kind of pressure, because that is how they got their points tonight."
Rice's big bodies held the Falcons to just three points in the opening quarter, while they put up a twelve spot on the board.
6'1" center Cassidy Derda had half of the teams first quarter points, while Tomilayo Akinpetide had a three, Hailee Baron a two, and Ellen Boucher hit one from the line.
North Country got a free throw from Noelle Pinard and two on a nice end to end run by Anna Bingham, who was playing with what folks are describing as an upper hand/lower-arm injury.
The second quarter was in itself two different quarters. Pre-Kelsey O'Donnell and Post-Kelsey O'Donnell.
We will call the first four minutes the Pre era.
Rice put a tremendous amount of pressure on the Falcons, causing both forced and unforced turnovers that led to big points.
Akenpetide was everywhere, she hit her second and third of an eventual four three's, and added two more to boot. Boucher would also hit from downtown, and soon the score was a very lopsided 23-3.
When the senior role player entered the game, she seemed to give the rest of the players on the court a boost, and they responded.
"Kelsey was a super spark for us off the bench. She made some nice back-court jumpers and was definitely a bright sport for us," said Brown.
The most important thing North Country did was halt the green and white's offensive onslaught. The team looked crisper on D, and started to find the basket. Pinard hit for two, then O'Donnell made a short jumper. Emma Joslin got her first points of the game on a three, and then it was another O'Donnell jumper to close out the scoring. The Falcons had taken a twenty point deficit, reduced it eleven, and in the process brought the crowd back into the game.
After the half, North Country struck first with a Joslin free throw, but Rice regained their form and to put it plainly, just ran over the Falcons, going on a fourteen point run before Joslin hit Bingham with a long bomb to set up the final two points of the the third.
Desiree Coffin and Jaime Kramer each had a three in the fourth to combine for the Falcons six points. Rice would add eleven more, bringing the score to 46-21.
O'Donnell, Joslin, and Bingham each had four for North Country, while Kramer, Coffin, and Pinard contributed three points apiece.
"We had some girls who were quite down (after the game), but they will be ready for the next game," said Joslin on how the locker room was feeling after the game.
The girls will regroup, as they usually do under coach Brown, and get focused for their next game, Tuesday night at 6:30 against St, Johnsbury at home.
Oh and one final note, if you see assistant coach Bob Joslin on the street, don't ask him about the officiating.