SWANZEY — In front of a limited crowd at Paul Joseph Breckell Gymnasium, the Monadnock girls basketball team fell to local Division 3 rival Conant on Wednesday, 60-30, in its first game since Jan. 13 because of COVID protocols, which temporarily postponed Monadnock athletics for the last two weeks.
Conant (4-0) crashed the boards early and often, leading to more scoring opportunities.
“I thought we did a great job of chasing offensive rebounds and getting easy baskets,” said Conant head coach Brian Troy. “Good overall team win on the road.”
Brynn Rautiola scored a game-high 19 points for the Orioles, including three three-pointers.
“I thought Brynn did a great job,” Troy said. “She settled in in the second half, started really nailing some shots.”
Emma Tenters added 17 points, and Elizabeth Gonyea scored nine.
Conant played without one of their usual starters, Teagan Kirby, who missed Friday’s game against Hollis-Brookline as well.
“It was a good team win for us,” Rautiola said. “We don’t have Teagan either, so I think it was just a good team win.”
Monadnock (0-2) scored early but went cold from there, and Conant held an 11-4 lead after the first quarter.
“I thought our defense was really good tonight, first half especially,” Troy said. “I thought we did a great job, especially in transition.”
Conant scored five quick points to start the second quarter, extending their lead.
But the Huskies started to find their rhythm offensively in the second quarter. Regan Kidney hit a jumper to spark some offensive energy, and Graze Furze followed suit with a shot as she was fouled. Even though she missed the ensuing free throw, the momentum had started to shift in Monadnock’s favor.
Mea Carroll-Clough and Breann Lawrence both found the basket for the Huskies during the second quarter, and, all of a sudden, Monadnock was within one with just over two minutes to go in the half.
“To be that close, it gives us that, ‘We got this. We can be in this,’ ” Furze said. “It gives you hope.”
But that was as close as they would get, as Conant answered with five quick points in the next minute. Rebounds were key for Conant in that stretch, scoring twice in a row on put-back layups from Tenters.
The Orioles led 23-15 at the half.
Then, Conant scored 25 points in the third quarter, more points than they had in the entire first half.
“We really started off slow in the first half,” Rautiola said. “But we picked it up in the third quarter.”
Rautiola was a big part of that third-quarter offensive explosion, scoring five points in the opening 1:10 of the frame to set the tone. She finished the quarter with eight points.
“I’ve just been really working on my shot lately with Coach, just one on one,” Rautiola said. “Hitting more shots on the other end went for me tonight.”
Gonyea only scored two points in the first half, but scored seven of her nine total points in the third quarter.
Thanks to Rautiola and Gonyea’s production, and Mylie Aho’s put-back shots off of offensive rebounds, Conant’s lead ballooned to 33-18 halfway through the third.
Aho finished with eight points.
“Mylie did a great job chasing offensive rebounds, getting easy points that way,” Troy said. “We just settled down as a team in the second half.”
The Orioles cruised from there, earning their 25th win in a row dating back to last season.
Obviously, a double-digit loss is not something to call home about, but Monadnock head coach Rob Skrocki knows the team can pull away some positives.
“They got us by 30, but at the half they only had us by eight,” Skrocki said. “That tells us a lot of things on our end, and we just know what we need to work on to get to where we want to be.”
The Huskies have only practiced once in the last two weeks because of COVID protocols. Skrocki recognized the challenges that come with that, but said it’s not something the team is going to use as an excuse.
“That’s not the attitude these girls want to have, and that’s not the attitude any of us coaches are going to have,” Skrocki said. “We lost, we watch the film, we do our workouts, we practice hard, we compete, we raise the level next time. That’s just the attitude we’re going to have going forward.”
Furze echoed that sentiment after her seven-point output.
“Not practicing for a couple weeks is something that’s easy to use as an excuse,” Furze said. “We could blame that for why we lost tonight, but we’re not going to do that. We’re capable of so much more.”
The teams play again on Friday at Conant at 5:30 p.m.
“We just need to keep pushing forward,” Troy said. “We’ll just keep taking it one day at a time. We’ll be ready to play again Friday night.”