Choate sparks North girls to win over Souhegan

NASHUA – With his team struggling offensively in the first half, Nashua High School North girls basketball coach Ricky Oliver was looking for something to spark his team in the second half.

He got that spark in the form of captain Taylor Choate.

The junior point guard energized the Titans on both sides of the ball and finished with a team-high 15 points to lead North to a 56-47 win over Milford in Day 1 of the Nashua North Holiday Tournament Thursday night.

“She’s our leader,” Oliver said. “Between her and Dezie Okori, they’re the sparkplug of this team.”

The Titans scored 34 points in the final two quarters after trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, outscoring the Spartans 14-6 in the third quarter.

Taylor Steinbrecher hit a 3-pointer from the corner to open the third quarter and give Milford a 27-22 lead. But North answered with a 10-0 run as Choate’s jump shot with 3:16 left in the quarter gave the Titans their largest lead of the contest to that point, 32-27.

Leading 36-30 after three quarters, the Titans pulled away with 20 fourth-quarter points. Okorie forced a Milford turnover at the perimeter and converted a fast-break layup, and Choate scored a 3 on North’s next possession to make it 45-36 with 4:26 left to play.

Back-to-back made field goals by Isabel Dunning and Choate put the Titans up 52-41 with under two minutes left to put the game out of reach.

“We just kept on the grind, making sure that we did the little things so that we could get open,” Oliver said. “That’s how we got back into this game. The little things, just the fundamental stuff we had to get back to in order to get this win.”

Milford took the early advantage thanks to the hot shooting of Brianna Hoffman, who made her first three 3-point attempts, scoring nine of her team’s first 11 points to take an 11-6 lead with 3:14 left in the first quarter.

Hoffman led the Spartans with 14 points, 12 of which came on her four made 3s, while Rebecca Cleary added eight points.

The Spartans pushed their lead to 20-11 in the second quarter. Once North adjusted its defense to take away the 3, it battled back with a 7-0 run capped off by a Cordova 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 24-22 at halftime.

“(Hoffman) was killing us,” Oliver said. “We really had to shut her down. Once we had the opportunity to shut her down and try to make somebody else score, they start feeding it inside, and that’s where all the defense is at.”

However, it wasn’t just the play of of North’s star, Choate, that made the difference in the game. Oliver was also impressed with “all of the other weapons,” most notably Isabel Dunning, who added 14 points off the bench, and a pair of 3s from Cordova (6).

The Titans move on to play Alvirne at 6:30 p.m. in the winner’s bracket, while Milford takes on South at 3:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket.

at Nashua

NASHUA NORTH (56)

Taylor Choate 7-0-15, Isabel Dunning 7-0-14, Ali Nelson 4-1-9, Sara Cordova 2-0-6, Emily Kendall 1-2-5, Dezi Okorie 2-0-4, Kara Upton 1-0-2, Abigail Streeter 1-0-2. Totals: 25-3-56.

MILFORD (47)

Brianna Hoffman 4-2-14, Rebecca Cleary 3-2-8, Taylor Stenbrecher 3-0-7, Fjessica Ryan 3-0-6, Adelle Pitsas 2-1-5, Jennifer Dupuis 2-1-5, Erin McGuire 1-0-2. Totals: 18-6-47.

Nashua North 11 11 14 20 – 56

Milford 13 11 6 17 – 47

3-pointers: N – Sara Cordova 2, Taylor Choate. M – Brianna Hoffman 4, Taylor Steinbrecher.