Girls’ basketball: Merrimack Valley picks up road win against shorthanded Bishop Brady

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 02-04-2023 12:40 PM

CONCORD – Bishop Brady (6-7) head coach Sal Alosa didn’t expect to be without his starting point guard Payton Bryson on Friday night against Merrimack Valley (5-7).

But after colliding with a teammate in Thursday’s game against Pelham, Bryson wasn’t cleared to play. The Giants lost 42-31, in a spirited effort in their teammate’s absence. 

MV led 24-23 at the half, and then pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Giants, 9-2.

“They played great,” Alosa said following his team’s loss. “Mia Wagner ran the point for us the whole game, and she played outstanding. They all played well. … I was really surprised because I didn’t have a gameplan knowing (Bryson) wasn’t playing.”

Friday was the second straight loss for the Giants after putting together a five-game winning streak that followed a five-game losing streak. 

For the visiting Pride, strong defense spurred the victory.

“We had a gameplan to contest as many shots as we can,” MV head coach Bob McNutt said. “They run a lot of five-out, they like to shoot the ball. … I thought the girls did a great job.”

The stout effort came at a much-needed time for a Pride team that had lost its last two games.

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“We’ve been working hard in practice defensively, and it showed tonight,” McNutt said. “We just did a good job finishing the game off. Big win for us. We needed it.”

With the victory, MV pulls itself back into better positioning in the Division II standings, just a half game behind Bishop Brady for 12th place.

Though the Pride have struggled offensively throughout the season, MV received a balanced scoring output on Friday night, with eight players in the scoring column; Hadleigh Sargent led the way with 8 points. For Brady, Morgan Casey led the team with 11 points, the only player for either team to crack double figures.

Looking ahead at the homestretch of the regular season, Bishop Brady has one goal: make the playoffs.

“We want to make the playoffs, and I think they’re in good position to do that if we can pull off at least one or two more wins,” Alosa said. “I think they have the capabilities of doing that once I can get everybody back healthy.”

And for MV, McNutt hopes a lighter schedule the rest of the way will help his team find more consistency, though as he emphasized, no game is easy. Even still, the Pride have already faced off against top teams in the division: Pembroke (twice), Hanover, Kennett and Pelham.

MV’s final six games are against teams with a combined record of 26-48.

“I think we can turn the corner here down the stretch and get on a winning roll if we continue to play well and we continue to do things that we’ve been doing,” McNutt said. “We’re right there. … The girls, they're getting better each day, and (tonight) was a big win for us.”

Friday’s game was part of Bishop Brady’s Slam Dunk for Cancer fundraiser, with proceeds from the evening donated to the Payson Center at Concord Hospital.

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