PETERBOROUGH — Turnovers and fouls were the ConVal girls basketball team’s Achilles’ heel in Monday’s 50-36 loss to Pelham in an empty ConVal gym.
Sophomore Morgan Bemont led the Cougars with 11 points.
The Cougars (0-2) kept up with the undefeated Pythons early thanks to stingy defense. Pelham found some offensive rhythm in the final two minutes of the first quarter and had a 9-6 lead after the first frame.
ConVal found some rhythm of its own early in the second quarter, tying the score at 13 within the first two minutes of the quarter.
Junior Maddy Faber, who finished with six points, gave ConVal a 15-13 lead on the next possession.
But, immediately following Faber’s bucket, Pelham rattled off 10 in a row. The run stayed alive thanks in part to ConVal turnovers that gave the Pythons more scoring opportunities.
“The turnovers just crushed us,” said ConVal head coach Kevin Proctor. “That really hurt us.”
That run gave the Pythons (9-0) all the separation they needed, taking a 10-point lead into halftime.
Senior Emily Donovan brought the deficit back to single digits with a three-pointer in the third quarter, but Pelham answered with a three of its own on the following possession.
ConVal committed seven fouls in the third quarter, compared to Pelham’s one.
Senior Julia Donovan, who ran into some foul trouble down the stretch, had six of her eight total points in the fourth quarter, hitting two three-pointers.
The Cougars have only seven girls on their roster, so everyone saw significant minutes. Proctor said that can be used as an advantage, especially in a shortened regular season.
“There’s really no way to get in shape for basketball except for playing basketball. It’s just one of those sports,” Proctor said. “So, I think in about another week, they’re going to be in that game shape that we need. By the time we get to that postseason or maybe that fourth or fifth game, I think we’re going to be fine as far as [fatigue] goes.”
Proctor said he’s focused on game-by-game improvement, rather than overall record during this pandemic-shortened regular season.
Rebounding and getting in the right positions were emphasized in practice this week, and Proctor said he noticed an improvement in those categories compared to Friday’s game against Souhegan.
This season, every team makes the postseason, so regular season record isn’t as significant as in past years.
“They’re going to be just fine,” Proctor said. “[The small roster is] not an excuse, because I’ve got the seven players that I want.”
Another positive of the smaller roster is the natural camaraderie that comes with a smaller group. Especially in a shortened regular season when teams don’t have as much time to gel as a group, that camaraderie could prove valuable down the road.
And with such a young team — only two seniors are on this year’s roster — that camaraderie is something that will carry over beyond just this season.
“They have great chemistry. They love being together,” Proctor said. “The fact that they know that there’s only seven of them, it galvanizes us. It makes us more cohesive because we know that this is us, right here.
“We’re a small family, but we are a family and we’re going to play hard for each other.”
The Cougars have only three regular season games left on their schedule, starting with a rematch against the Pythons on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Pelham.