MANCHESTER – No points? Not a problem for the Souhegan High School girls basketball.
Not often has Jane White gone to halftime of a game with a goose egg on the stat sheet next to her name, but the Sabers’ senior did just that Friday night against Kearsarge in the Division II championship game.
That meant it was time for someone else to step up, and someone did just that.
Mickenzie Larivee scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half to help No. 6 Souhegan take a 13-point lead after 16 minutes. The Sabers continued to pour it on in the second half and defeated No. 5 Kearsarge 53-27 at Southern New Hampshire University to win their second straight Division II title.
Tori Forrest had nine point and grabbed 12 rebounds for Souhegan (18-4) and White finished with 11 points, but couldn’t find many openings against the Cougars’ defense in the first half. When she did, the senior guard couldn’t get the shots to fall.
In fact, none of the Sabers could get shots to fall early. Souhegan forced Kearsarge (17-5) to turn the ball over eight times in the first quarter, but led just 7-4 thanks to a 3-for-13 shooting performance.
“We have everything set up against (box-and-one),” Souhegan coach Jeremy Faulkner said. “They just showed us a different look. Instead of a box, it was a diamond. It took us the first quarter, as coaches, to see what they were doing and adjust to it.”
The adjustments worked and it was Larivee who got things started. The sophomore hit back-to-back jumpers to force the Cougars to call a timeout, and after the break, she added a 3 to put Souhegan up 16-5.
Brittney Page, who led Kearsarge with nine points, answered with a 3 of her own, but Larivee hit another jumper, followed by a field goal and a 3 by Ceara McNamara that gave Souhegan a 23-8 lead with 2:06 left in the half.
“She sparked us in the second quarter,” Faulkner said. “Everybody from there on started playing hard. That was huge for her. The first game of the playoffs, she was completely under control. The next two games, she looked a little bit nervous. This game, before she even went on the floor, she looked like the most comfortable that she could be and she was when she was on the floor.”
After willing the Sabers to a win over Lebanon in last year’s title game, White was happy to see Souhegan get another title any way it could.
“As a point guard, it’s not my goal to score,” she said. “I’m supposed to distribute the ball and make the passes. Everyone can shoot and that’s what happened. I don’t think I had any points in the first half. That doesn’t matter to me because everyone else was hitting.”
Thanks to the big lead, the Sabers took more chances on defense in the second half. Often times, the Cougars struggled just to get the ball to midcourt, and Kearsarge turned the ball over 27 times, leading to 23 Souhegan points.
“It feels so good,” Larivee said of winning a second time. “We gathered ourselves up after the losses we had and it made us realize we had to step it up to get to the top again.”
Over the last two seasons, the Sabers put together a 40-4 record against Division II and it’s the second time the program has won back-to-back titles.