Titans win a tough fight with Panthers, 50-49

Staff photo by TOM KING Nashua South's Kirsten McIntire (20) tries to block the shot by Nashua North's Katherine Carr during Friday night's Battle of the Bridge clash at North.

NASHUA – Time and space.

The Nashua High School South girls basketball team really had neither toward the end of their Battle of the Bridge contest against rival Nashua North, and that made all the difference in a 50-49 Titans win.

Let’s set the stage: Nashua North’s Arianna Motivala had broken away for a potential go-ahead layup after a steal with 12.6 seconds left, when Panther Maya Rioux did the only thing possible, which was foul her.

Motivala hit one of two freebies for a 50-49 lead, and then the Titans put so much pressure a third of the way up the floor, keyed by Alana Choate, that the Panthers let seven seconds tick off the clock. All South could manage after a time out was a rushed long heave.

“Those seconds were huge,” North coach Christina Bean said. “We pulled it out somehow. This is where we take the momentum.”

North has won three straight to even its mark at 5-5, while South fell to 4-5.

“You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do, just have to play,” South coach Dave Hogan said of the final sequence. “Even if (Motivala) makes that second foul shot, it’s not the end of the world. The biggest part was when we got the rebound, we didn’t make the quick pass and run. We got pinned. This is still a team that’s inexperienced on making that decision.”

In years past this had been a one-sided affair, but not this time. The Titans jumped out to a 5-0 lead and were up 15-6 after the first quarter and led 26-20 at the half.But South, paced by the shooting of junior Jasmine Sylvester (team-high 14 points) climbed back into it. It was 39-38 North heading into the final quarter.

Adding to the drama was the fact the Titans lost one of their best players, Danielle Upton, who had scored 20 in a 49-40 win over the Panthers 10 days earlier, to an apparent head injury early in the second half as she left the gym dazed.

“Alana (11 points) came up huge for us,” Bean said. “She stepped up in ways I can’t ask for. Katie Carr (12 points) played unreal tonight. They came to play. And just huge defense for us. That’s what I like.”

Aryanna Murray added 11 for South. It was 49-46 Titans when Rioux drained a 3-pointer to tie it with 1:16 to go. It stayed that way until Motivala’s big play. She finished with 10 points, but eight of them were from the line.

She knew what was coming.

“I knew I was going to get a foul shot, I’m pretty used to it,” Motivala said.

“We were afraid to make the pass (at the end), because we were afraid to make the turnover,”Hogan said. “But we did a good job of persevering. … We took the fight, and we fought.”