JAFFREY — Some days you’re the windshield. Some days you’re the bug.
The popular rock group Dire Straits employed this lyric decades ago in one of its many famous songs. On Tuesday night at Conant High in Jaffrey, however, the phrase neatly defined life for host Conant and the visiting Monadnock girls basketball teams.
Utilizing a methodical, smothering defense to assume the role of the windshield, Conant dominated a game but overmatched Husky squad, 53-27, to keep its record perfect at 10-0. The Huskies suffered a sad bug’s life for a night and fell to 4-6.
Conant jumped on Monadnock early and was never seriously threatened after the first quarter. In a game dictated by an Oriole defense that offered little breathing room for Monadnock shooters, Conant held the Huskies to 23-percent shooting from the floor (10-44). Conant, meanwhile, cruised on offense. The Orioles were led by the duo of Emma Tenters, last season’s Division III Player of the Year (21), and Brynn Routiola (19), who accounted for 40 of Conant’s 53 points.
“I thought we did a really good job defensively, sticking to the scouting report,” said Conant Head Coach Brian Troy, whose team won its fifth game of the year by at least 26 points. “We respect Monadnock a lot, and we know they have a ton of girls who can shoot. We knew we had to be on our P’s and Q’s, trying not to give them any open looks. We did a really good job of containing the ball and getting out on shooters.”
The game was eerily reminiscent of last year’s Division III State Championship game between these two teams, minus the deadly shooting that catapulted Monadnock to the title. The Huskies worked hard on offense Tuesday night, but could rarely find good shooting opportunities against the Orioles. Monadnock managed just 12 three-point shots overall, making one, Shaylee Branon’s opening score for the Huskies in the first quarter.
“Hats off to them,” said Monadnock Head Coach Rob Colbert. “They played with almost a vengeance, and we didn’t answer. The way they started offensively definitely put us on our heels, then there was so much pressure on every offensive possession. If we’re not shooting the heck out of it, we have a tendency to not get to the foul line a lot. That’s problematic. If you’re not shooting it from distance, how are you going to score?”
Coming off an impressive win over one-loss Hopkinton last Thursday, Colbert said he thought his squad was prepared, but simply could not get started after the first quarter against a Conant team humming on all cylinders.
“The way this game unfolded in the first six or seven minutes, it got away quick,” he said. “Once you let a team like that go and they start moving, they get dangerous. There was just no recouping what had happened.”
The Huskies stayed close early, trailing only 7-5 at the 4:22 mark of the opening period, but Tenters and Routiola scored all 10 points in a 10-1 Conant run to close out the quarter with a 17-6 lead. The Huskies pulled to within 8 at the 6:40 mark of the second quarter, but would never get closer. Routiola connected on three of her game-high five three-pointers to lead an 11-4 run that put Conant up 29-14 at the half.
From there, it was all windshields and bugs. The two teams matched baskets early in the third quarter before Conant pulled away for good, scoring the last 13 points of the period while limiting Monadnock to a total of 2 points on 1-14 shooting from the floor.
“We pride ourself on our defense,” said Troy, “and there are a lot of teams in this division that can shoot. Being able to get out on their shooters tonight kind of put them in weak positions, and that was huge for us.”
Bella Hart added eight points to complement the offensive onslaught of Tenters and Routiola for Conant. Monadnock was led by Shaylee Branon with 15 points, the only Husky scorer in double figures.
Conant next hosts Gilford this Friday, while Monadnock travels to Fall Mountain, also on Friday.