It must be something in the water.
For the second time in less than a week, the Keene High girls basketball team fell in a barn burner to Lebanon.
On Wednesday, the Blackbirds lost 52-50 in Keene.
The teams had met just five days prior, with the Raiders coming out on top by four after a fourth-quarter comeback.
“I couldn’t even tell you,” said Kaitlyn Lemnah about why these games have been so close. “It just didn’t come together in the end; it was unfortunate.”
Lemnah finished with a game-high 19 points.
The senior controlled the pace of the game from the start, something she said the team has been working on in practice.
“As a point guard, I have to control our tempo and not play at the other team’s pace,” Lemnah said. “I was happy with the way we were able to slow it down and play the way we wanted all game.”
Lemnah added that, even in the loss, she felt that this was the team’s best game to date.
“You can tell we definitely want it,” Lemnah said. “The hustle and the grit… that’s really what kept us in it. We played with great energy.”
Keene head coach Stacey Massiah noticed his team’s effort on the floor as well.
“Couldn’t be prouder of my girls,” Massiah said. “They really battled. They played hard. Just trying to put these pieces together right now.”
Marin Shaffer and Elyza Mitchell both finished with six points.
Neither team ever held a double-digit lead on Wednesday night. The largest lead of the game was a Lebanon six-point advantage at halftime after the Raiders went on an 11-4 run to end the second quarter.
But even that lead didn’t last long. Lemnah hit a three-pointer to start the second half and cut Lebanon’s lead to three.
After some back and forth, Lemnah and Mitchell scored on back-to-back possessions to bring the Blackbirds (0-4) within two late in the third.
Then, Kirsten Farhm tied the game at 33 with a jumper.
The game was still tied at the end of the third, setting the stage for another tight finish.
Lebanon (4-0) went on a 4-0 run halfway through the fourth quarter, but Lemnah hit a three to bring the Blackbirds back within one, and Ashlyn Smith followed suit with a three of her own on the next possession to give Keene a two-point lead with 3:50 left on the clock.
Some more back and forth saw the lead change hands multiple times, and with 1:14 left, Molly Chamberlin hit a clutch jumper to put the Blackbirds the ahead, 48-47.
After Lebanon got the advantage right back on the next possession, the Blackbirds missed an opportunity to convert with less than 30 seconds to go.
Instead, Lebanon made another bucket to extend its advantage to three.
Lemnah came through again and made it a one-point game with a layup on the ensuing Blackbirds possession with 7.1 seconds remaining.
“She controls everything,” Massiah said of his point guard. “If she’s not in tune, we’re not in tune. She knows when we’re down and we need something, she’s going to give that extra 110 to actually make something work. She doesn’t give up until it's over.”
But a flagrant foul called against Keene on the inbound play gave Lebanon two free throws and possession back, taking another hack at Keene’s comeback attempt.
Lebanon hit only one of the two free throws but was able to run out the remaining time on the next possession to seal the win.
Keene has another quick turnaround, as the girls visit Monadnock on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The teams were originally supposed to meet Tuesday, but the snowstorm postponed the game. Because of the postponement, the Keene girls play three games in three days this week.
Massiah admitted that these emotional, close games are taking a toll on the girls, especially playing so many games in such a short amount of time, but that won’t stop them from giving it everything they have when they hit the court.
“They have until midnight, that’s our rule,” Massiah said on how his team can regroup. “As soon as midnight hits, we forget about it and it’s on to the next one.
“They’ll bounce back.”