homepage logo

Merrimack girls knock off South for Chick-fil-A girls title

By Chris Pantazis - | Dec 29, 2019

Merrimack High won the 2019 Chick-fil-A holiday chmapionship.

The Merrimack High girls’ basketball squad has shown coach Mike Soucy quite a bit with its play early in the 2019-20 season. And Soucy’s squad was nothing short of dominant in claiming the Chick-fil-A Holiday Tournament title at Nashua South on Saturday afternoon.

The Tomahawks made a victory virtually a foregone conclusion early and ended up receiving points from no less than 10 different sources in a 56-30 thumping of the host Nashua South Purple Panthers in the tourney title game.

Coach Soucy’s contingent netted 18 of the first 20 points of the contest, led 38-9 at halftime, and was up by some 34 points going into the final period of play in bagging the big trophy.

Merrimack tore out to an 18-2 lead in the first period by combining strong shooting, patience, good decision making, and a ferocious and turnover-tallying full-court press.

And the Tomahawks controlled play all the way through the first three quarters before South actually made any serious headway on a comeback, which was a long shot at best.

“We knew we could run, and we knew we could press, but what impressed me most today was our half-court offense,” said coach Soucy. “We played a team which has a strong half-court defense, and we looked great.”

The Merrimack mob got to the tournament’s title game by besting Keene in round one and then taking good care of business in its semifinal meeting with Nashua North on Friday by trouncing the Titans by a 49-30 tally.

Soucy saw his charges get out of the gate slowly in allowing the first seven points of that game, but Merrimack was up by 15 at the half (29-14) and its stifling press put the contest away in half number two.

Coach John Bourgeois’ host South Purple Panthers had reached the championship contest by besting Campbell in round one and then defeating the Alvirne Broncos by a modest, 44-38 count in semifinal play on Friday. After trailing by as many as 20 points in the first half, Alvirne rallied late in an attempt to get itself within a win of the tourney crown but fell short in the end.

The title match actually began with both sides looking all kinds of sluggish, with Merrimack junior guard Theresa Twardosky’s three-point bucket counting as the only points netted in the first three minutes of play.

But the Tomahawks’ lead had bulged to 8-1 when Merrimack slipped into its full-court trapping defense which frustrated South and forced the hosts into a timeout to talk about press-breaking.

However, the Tomahawks tallied 10 of the final 11 points scored in that opening period to grasp the commanding 18-2 advantage going into quarter two.

And it was more of the same in the second stanza, with Merrimack taking advantage of pressure-produced turnover after turnover by outscoring its host by a 20-7 margin to carry a 38-9 lead into the halftime break.

The visitors hit 15 of the 34 shots they attempted from the floor in the half while South only took 11 of them and hit just two.

Twardosky had 11 points – with a trio of three-pointers – in the first half in outscoring the Purple Panthers all by herself. She would end up being the game-high scorer with those 11, and she was named to the all-tournament team along with South senior forward Kirsten McIntire after the conclusion of the title battle.

South finally reached double-digits in points 2:34 into the third quarter when Julianna Martin sank a free throw, but Merrimack would wind up winning that period as well by outscoring the hosts by a 10-5 margin.

Down by 34 points at 48-14 going into the last eight minutes of play, the Nashuans tallied 11 of the first 13 points and trimmed their deficit to 25. But everybody and their Aunt Fanny knew a full comeback was right next to impossible.

Along with the tournament hardware and a considerable amount of pride, the Tomahawks strode out of South’s Belanger Gym with a perfect 4-0 overall record on the young season. The Purple Panthers moved to 3-2 overall.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *