Girls’ basketball: Hopkinton off to 9-1 start after 45-40 win over Stevens

Hopkinton junior Shaylee Murdough drives to the basket during Friday night’s game over Stevens. Murdough led the Hawks with 16 points.

Hopkinton junior Shaylee Murdough drives to the basket during Friday night’s game over Stevens. Murdough led the Hawks with 16 points. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

Hawks junior Sydney Westover attempts a put-back layup during the first half of Friday’s 45-40 win over Stevens.

Hawks junior Sydney Westover attempts a put-back layup during the first half of Friday’s 45-40 win over Stevens. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

Hopkinton senior Lizz Holmes prepares to attempt a layup during Friday’s 45-40 win for the Hawks over Stevens.

Hopkinton senior Lizz Holmes prepares to attempt a layup during Friday’s 45-40 win for the Hawks over Stevens. ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL / Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 01-20-2024 9:59 AM

Modified: 01-20-2024 10:05 AM


CONTOOCOOK – Through 10 games this season, the Hopkinton Hawks have won nine times, lost just once and impressed even their first-year head coach Mike Mahoney.

After another marquee win on Friday, 45-40, over Stevens (7-3), the Hawks (9-1) find themselves in third place out of 20 teams in Division III.

“I knew we’d be competitive. I knew Hopkinton’s always got good athletes and has a good program. Looking at the schedule we had, we expected to be in every one, but 9-1 is about as good as I could’ve asked for,” Mahoney said after Friday night’s win. “We feel like we’ve played a lot of these top teams already, and so we’re feeling like we’re pretty battle tested going into the second half of the season. It is a wide-open division. We want these games. This was a playoff atmosphere, and this was what the tournament games are going to feel like, so to keep our composure and come away with the win is big moving forward.”

Hopkinton entered Friday with wins over Conant (8-3) and Kearsarge (5-3) already on its resume. The win over Stevens, while not the prettiest performance, continued pushing things in the right direction for a program that lost eight players from last year’s D-III final four team.

The Hawks led 13-12 at halftime after a sluggish start and woke up in the third quarter to build a 28-21 lead into the fourth. The Cardinals took several leads in the final eight minutes, even as late as with just over a minute remaining, but a baseline jumper from Hopkinton sophomore Zoe Bishop with 1:02 left put the Hawks ahead for good.

“I thought the fourth quarter, (Stevens) made a nice little run, and the girls did a good job of settling themselves down,” Mahoney said. “We said in the huddle: ‘Just keep your composure. Keep your composure and kind of feed off the energy of the crowd, and feed off the energy of each other.’ I thought they did a great job refocusing and just executing what we wanted to do and taking care of the ball.”

Hopkinton junior Shaylee Murdough led the team in scoring with 16 points. Junior Sydney Westover added eight, while senior Lizz Holmes and sophomore Helen Yeaton each had six. Holmes also knocked down three of four free throws in the fourth quarter, including two to ice the game.

Discussing the team’s ability to settle down when Stevens made its runs throughout the game, Mahoney pointed to the leadership of Murdough, Holmes and Westover helping guide the way.

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“We lost a lot, but we have some really good veteran leadership coming back that do a really good job of managing our emotions and stuff,” Mahoney said.

Hopkinton will need that leadership to shine through once again on Monday when the Hawks will travel to Claremont to face the Cardinals for the second time in four days. It’s been a strong start for Hopkinton, but Mahoney knows there’s still more work to be done.

“I’m really excited about where we’re going, and to come in and beat teams like Stevens, Monadnock, Kearsarge, Conant, I think it builds confidence, and we just gotta keep playing with that sort of energy going into the second half,” he said. “Our goal is top four and host a couple games. So far, so good.”