It took all 32 minutes of action, but the Keene High girls basketball team held on for the 39-36 win over Monadnock Friday night in Keene, after Monadnock’s Grace LeClair just missed a three-point shot at the buzzer.
It was Keene’s second win over Monadnock in as many days.
“I’m so proud of these girls every game,” said Keene head coach Stacey Massiah. “They’re starting to gel together a little more. The big thing is confidence and trusting each other.”
Kaitlyn Lemnah was Keene’s leading scorer, notching 17 points, including two free throws with less than 10 seconds to go to make it a three-point game.
“Kaitlyn is relentless,” Massiah said. “She doesn’t give up.”
Before her last two free throws, Lemnah had the opportunity to seal the game at the line but missed on the front end of both one-and-one’s, keeping it a one-point game late in the fourth.
But after each miss, the Blackbirds (2-4) came down with the rebound, and that was ultimately the game-sealer.
Mea Carroll-Clough scored a game-high 19 points for the Huskies in the loss.
“It was one of my better games,” Carroll-Clough said. “But I couldn’t have done any of that without everyone else.”
It was close the entire way, with Lemnah and Carroll-Clough trading baskets early on.
Carroll-Clough scored the first eight points of the game for Monadnock.
“What a fantastic young player,” said Monadnock head coach Rob Skrocki. “She showed up wanting this game.
“It’s a different girl every night that’s showing up and leading the team,” Skrocki added. “We’re all bringing it to the table.”
Stout defense on both ends kept it close late into the second quarter, and a jumper from Carroll-Clough in the final seconds of the half put the Huskies ahead, 21-20, at halftime.
But Lemnah, Ashlyn Smith (4 points) and Elyza Mitchell (5 points) pushed the Blackbirds on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter.
“It’s good to see [Ashlyn] feeling comfortable again,” Massiah said.
The Huskies (1-5) climbed back into it, but still trailed 34-28 after the third.
A three-point play from Grace Furze (9 points) and a jumper from Carroll-Clough midway through the fourth brought the Huskies within one.
Monadnock shot three free throws, down one, in the ensuing minutes, but missed all three.
Lemnah would eventually finish them off at the line.
It was Keene’s third game in a row, with the Blackbirds coming out on top in the last two.
“I’m glad they still had the energy from the last two games,” Massiah said. “You could tell in the fourth quarter it was like, ‘Alright, we want to be done with this.’ But they played hard, played well, played together.”
For Monadnock, the team now has to regroup after dropping its last two games. But Skrocki knows he has to look deeper than just wins and losses.
“When it comes down to the end like that, we learn a lot of lessons as a team really quick,” Skrocki said. “That’s the kind of thing that we need to motivate ourselves in practice.
“It’s a tough lesson to learn, and a tough time to learn it, but that’s how young teams get better.”
Keene gets a much-needed weekend break and next hosts Hanover Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Monadnock visits Mascenic Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. looking to get back in the win column.