Strong move

Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff

Fall Mountain’s Avery Stewart drives to the basket against Prospect Mountain Saturday night at The Den in

Langdon. The Wildcats advanced to the Division III semifinals.

LANGDON — It was a matchup of opposite strengths Saturday night at Fall Mountain Regional High School.

The Wildcats’ girls basketball team overcame the size advantage that Prospect Mountain had over them and used an up-tempo style of game to prevent the Timberwolves from establishing any sort of momentum in a 62-43 win at The Den in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA Division III tournament.

Right out of the gate it was evident that Fall Mountain had a specific style of attack in mind — play full-court defense, run the floor and open the court. It led to a dominant 23-3 first quarter and with Prospect Mountain accustomed to playing in lower scoring and closer games, it was already out of sorts eight minutes in for the visitors from Alton.

“We like to get out and run but part of it is we look at their size and we didn’t want to play a half-court game against them,” said Fall Mountain coach Matthew Baird-Torney. “There’s times we’ve seen them on film and they’re just throwing it up there and going and getting rebounds and getting the other team into foul trouble.”

With the win, the Wildcats advanced to the semifinals and will take on No. 3 seeded Hopkinton. It downed No. 11 Monadnock Regional High 28-27 in another quarterfinal Saturday on its home court. Hopkinton and Fall Mountain will square off Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Keene State College. The teams did not play this season.

Sophie Bardis led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points. Makenna Grillone had 14 points and Avery Stewart finished with 15 points.

In the first quarter Bardis scored nine points, Grillone hit a pair of three-pointers, Stewart had four points and Erin Brady also chipped in with the first basket of the game and another one to make the score 10-3.

One of the Timberwolves top players, Hannah Capsalis, was held to two points in the first three quarters before hitting a pair of three-pointers in the fourth. She was guarded tight throughout the night.

“She’s pretty nifty with the ball. If we could deny her and try to put pressure elsewhere, we thought we could have an advantage and we did,” said Baird-Torney. “Then we’ve got enough athletes that we can get off the ball and start running. Our goal was to turn this into a track meet and for long stretches we did.”

While Prospect Mountain did have the size advantage, it wasn’t able to pick up the number of rebounds that was possible with it.

“I was nervous with the matchup,” said Baird-Torney. “If the game was called really tight or we were just a little sluggish or a step behind, it would’ve been difficult.”

The week off for Fall Mountain brought a rested team to the court. With the 19-point victory against the Timberwolves, the Wildcats now know that they can counter-punch size with the style of play that led them to the quarter-final victory.

“We were able to overcome their size with our athleticism,” said Baird-Torney. “Being able to accomplish this type of effort gives us plenty of confidence that size won’t be a weakness anymore moving forward because we can change the pace.”