Girls’ basketball: Concord dominates Spaulding from the opening tip, cruises to a 38-point victory

Concord guard Whitney Vaillant drives through two Spaulding defenders during the first half on Friday.

Concord guard Whitney Vaillant drives through two Spaulding defenders during the first half on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Concord guard Delaney Duford draws an offensive foul against Spaulding guard Anna Stanley during the first half on Friday night, January 5, 2024.

Concord guard Delaney Duford draws an offensive foul against Spaulding guard Anna Stanley during the first half on Friday night, January 5, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Concord center Sofia Payne goes up strong for a shot during the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 5, 2024.

Concord center Sofia Payne goes up strong for a shot during the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 5, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Concord center Sofia Payne gets fouled by Spaulding forward Kate McCawley during the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 5, 2024.

Concord center Sofia Payne gets fouled by Spaulding forward Kate McCawley during the fourth quarter on Friday night, January 5, 2024. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 01-05-2024 9:56 PM

Modified: 01-06-2024 11:34 AM


CONCORD – Although it was a matchup with 0-5 Spaulding, Concord head coach Rob Darrell viewed Friday night as one of his team’s most important games of the season.

Entering 1-3 off a tough loss to Keene on Monday, the Tide needed a win at home to steady the ship, and that’s exactly what it delivered, dismantling Spaulding, 52-14.

Senior Delaney Duford led the Tide with 13 points, with fellow senior Whitney Vaillant adding 12 and junior Jillian Nailor scoring eight.

Here are three notes on where the Tide sit as the first week of January wraps up:

Darrell notes improvements defensively

Anytime a team holds its opponent to 14 points over 32 minutes, it’s doing something right defensively. While Spaulding had its fair share of self-inflicted errors, Concord also did a solid job blocking shots, forcing turnovers and making things difficult for the Red Raiders.

“They’re starting to understand the little things,” Darrell said. “We’re teaching them more boxing out, how to keep the ball to one side of the floor, how to angle better, how to pop back better. Still making a lot of mistakes, but everybody’s starting to understand it.”

Darrell also credited the team having the chance to play in the Capital Classic over the holiday break for helping them continue to progress.

“That was huge because we didn’t play great,” he said of the Tide’s games with Pembroke and Merrimack Valley. “Not to take away from Pembroke or MV; both of them were coached well and they played well, but I’m glad we had that instead of having a break. I think we’re playing a little tougher, a little better. It was good for us to do that.”

Coach communication paying dividends

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Concord planning board approves new casino zoning
A May tradition, the Kiwanis Fair comes to Concord this weekend
Lawyers and lawmakers assert the Department of Education is on the verge of violating the law
Concord softball’s senior class reflects on a dominant four-year run
Concord solidifies plan to respond to homelessness
Cottage community rebuilds beloved dock after it was destroyed in boat crash

Now in his second year as the girls’ varsity coach, Darrell’s continued to hone his ability communicating with his players. Last year when the Tide started the season 3-5, he said he felt he wasn’t doing his best to connect and get his messages across.

That piece has since become a focus for him, and it wasn’t uncommon on Friday night to see Darrell talking with players individually on the floor during free throws and other breaks in the action.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and the bottom line is, old-school coaching isn’t the norm nowadays,” he said. “I’m learning to adjust to that, and it’s working out. Plus, a lot of these girls, the seniors I’ve had since seventh grade. They’re like basketball daughters. We learn each other, we feed off each other really well. … It’s a respect thing back and forth, and once you get respect then they play hard for you.”

Tough schedule awaits a team with playoff hopes

Last season, Concord won five of its last six games to sneak into the playoffs. This year, Darrell’s hoping they take a less stressful route. But upcoming matchups with Goffstown (4-1), Bedford (5-0), Pinkerton (4-0) and Portsmouth (3-1) will all pose difficult challenges.

Carrying the good taste of Friday’s win should only provide some confidence, though, that perhaps the Tide can pull off an upset.

“Last year, we had a tough middle. We got beat up a little bit, but it made us stronger for later,” Darrell said. “I’m hoping to get through that a little better this year and be able to come out at the end and be able to do some damage in the playoffs –  hopefully get into the playoffs and then do damage in the playoffs. So all these little steps we’re taking, we say one game at a time, we don’t look ahead, we didn’t look past tonight. We knew that tonight was important. This season, I felt, this was probably one of the most important games we’ve had all year to get us back on track. I think that’s going to help us.”