Lady Astro Cagers Bag an Upset, Reach the D-I Semifinals

First-year varsity coach Lani Buskey’s Pinkerton Academy girls’ basketball squad has done about all she could ask of it throughout her inaugural varsity campaign this winter. And the Lady Astros kept right on doing so throughout their Division I quarterfinal-round tournament contest last Saturday night.

The sixth-seeded academy crew handled the number 11 Manchester Central contingent in Derry in first-round play on Wednesday night, March 5 to qualify for a quarterfinal-round meeting with the third-ranked Bishop Guertin Lady Cardinals in Nashua this past Saturday, March 8. And the Pinkerton bunch then advanced yet further to the D-I semifinals against the rival Londonderry High Lady Lancers no less by ending the BG contingent’s season with a 52-49 defeat.

The semifinal battle against Londonderry was slated for Wednesday evening, March 12, at Southern New Hampshire University, after Nutfield News press time.

“I’m incredibly proud of this team,” said Buskey. “I’m happy that my core group of seniors gets a chance at SHNU. They’ve worked hard and deserve it. I think we all now realize that together this team can compete with anyone.”

Pinkerton qualified for that semi with the three-point upset victory over Guertin on the road over the weekend.

The Lady Astros trailed by a handful of points (19-14) when the first quarter ended, but they led modestly at halftime (28-27) and after three periods (39-38). The tight battle continued in the fourth quarter, with the locals outscoring their hosts by a 13-11 margin in claiming the climactic victory.

Senior guard Brandi Bonneau paced the Pinkerton offensive charge with 15 points, her fellow 12th grader Colleen Fortier potted a dozen, and junior forward Val Martin was good for nine points. Junior guard Melissa Martel chipped in with six big points during the final, pressure-packed minutes of play.

“We knew it was going to be a battle with BG, especially playing on the road,” said Buskey. “They are a very good team with a tremendously talented point-guard. Fortunately, we’ve had a few close games this season similar to the situation last night, so we felt confident in the fourth quarter in a game that close.”

Buskey was more than willing to admit that her charges put forth an ugly performance in their home tourney contest against Manchester Central during the middle of last week. But she was able to make that admission with a wry grin on her face because her Lady Astros collected a 43-27 victory over a Central bunch that played far uglier.

The Lady Astros led 13-7 after one quarter, 24-18 at the half, and 31-23 going into the final eight minutes of play.

Trailing by eight points rolling into the fourth quarter, coach Mike Wenners’ Central crew still had every reason to believe it could pull out the upset win with some strong play down the stretch. But the Little Green contingent went on to miss every single one of the 12 shots it attempted from the field during the vital period, and there was no way to mount a comeback without hitting any shots at all as the Lady Astros scored a dozen points of their own.

Val Martin netted a game-high 20 points for the winning side while Kayla Stacy contributed 11 as the PA crew advanced.