Cards keep pressure on Crusaders in 66-45 win

Staff photo by TOM KING Bishop Guertin's Ava Owens,left, and Aaliyah Forman battle with Manchester Memorial's Madison Fournier and Mollie Simpson (14) for the ball during the Cards' 66-45 win in Manchester on Sunday.

MANCHESTER – Ah, a rainy Sunday afternoon, the perfect time to be lazy. No pressure, right?

Not if you’re the Bishop Guertin High School girls basketball team. The Cardinals put plenty of defensive full court pressure on the Manchester Memorial Crusaders, and the result was a 66-45 matinee win on the road.

“We’re getting better defensively, but we’re not there yet,” Guertin coach Brad Kreick said, even after his team forced the Crusaders into 23 turnovers. “I still feel like we need to get better defensively if we want to win in March.”

This was still a big win for the Cards, one in which they led wire to wire, because it reinforces their status – despite five losses – as the chief Division I challenger to unbeaten Bedford. Guertin is now 11-5, but remember, four of those five losses are to top-notch out-of-state competition.

The Crusaders, meanwhile, are 12-3, but not yet at the level of BG-Bedford.

“Credit to their defense,” Memorial coach Greg Cotreau said. “They’re very good, Bedford’s very good. We knew what to expect. … We had maybe 20 turnovers, they probably scored on half of them. Cut those turnovers in half and it’s a game. The pressure was the difference.”

Guertin, which got a game-high 21 points from Erin Carney and 15 from Bri Wilcox, started out with full court pressure and led 7-0 and 9-2. The closest the Crusaders got was 11-7.

Still, Kreick knew that the Crusaders have shown this year they can light it up from anywhere, so pressure had to be constant.

“We have stretches where we’re really, really solid,” he said. “And then for some reason, we seem to have few breakdowns in key possessions where all of a sudden you go from being up 13 or 15 and feeling like you’re on the edge of being able to put the game away comfortably and all of a sudden it’s down to seven or nine (points).”

That happened when the Crusaders’ Sydney Robinson hit a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left in the first half to help cut a 14 point BG lead to 34-27. But the Cards were up 36-27 at the break, and then outscored Memorial 17-10 in the third quarter to take 53-37 commanding lead into the final eight minutes.

Memorial had just one player in double figures, Jennessa Brunette (10 points) while Robinson had just nine. Meanwhile, Hannah Muchemore had 11 and Ava Owns 10 for the Cards.

And don’t discount the play of Wilcox, whose scored all of her 15 in the first half and helped keep the Crusaders at bay.

“She’s a very good player,” Kreick said. “She’s just blossomed. Tremendous energy kid, too. … She’s been a huge part of our success this year.

“What did we win by, 21? Take that win and move on.”

With the pressure still on high.