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Girls Division I championship: Bedford's speed, depth too much for Pinkerton

Mar. 11—DURHAM — You could say the Bedford High School girls basketball team ran away from the competition this season. That was certainly the case in Sunday's Division I championship game at the University of New Hampshire.

Bedford's speed and ability to score in transition were among the key reasons the top-seeded Bulldogs were able to defeat second-seeded Pinkerton Academy, 60-41, at the University of New Hampshire's Lundholm Gym.

The Division I title was Bedford's third. The Bulldogs won it in 2021 and advanced to the final in 2022 and '23 before falling to Bishop Guertin.

Bedford (21-0) scored 15 fast-break points and had a 13-4 edge in points off turnovers.

Pinkerton (19-2) shot 2 of 10 from the field in the fourth quarter, when the Astros were outscored 17-5. Pinkerton was 1 of 6 from behind the 3-point arc and missed each of its five free throws in the final eight minutes.

"Our shots didn't fall because our legs gave out in the fourth," Pinkerton coach Lani Buskey said. "You could see we were tired. And when that started happening, we started to hang our heads a little bit.

"They're a hard team to defend. We're a hard team to defend as well, but they just have a little bit of a leg up on us in speed and that definitely showed in the fourth quarter."

Bedford's Lana McCarthy had a game-high 20 points and eight rebounds. Kate Allard added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who received 12 points and six steals from Sarah Muir.

"I am on top of the world," McCarthy said. "I am so proud of my teammates. They did everything they needed to do. Everyone came prepared and it couldn't have been a better game.

"We are such a deep and conditioned team we can outrun any team. No matter what group of girls is in, any five, we can dominate."

McCarthy was in foul trouble for much of the game, but that gave Bedford a chance to show its depth. McCarthy picked up her third foul with 3:51 remaining in the second quarter, but Bedford outscored Pinkerton 7-0 the rest of the half.

It was 28-28 when McCarthy was whistled for her fourth foul with 6:05 left in the third, but Bedford had a 47-38 lead when she re-entered the game with 6:29 to play.

"It's interesting because without Lana, they're faster," Buskey said. "As we got tired and they got faster, it became kind of a perfect storm. She rested and then when she came back in with about five minutes left, that was the dagger."

Brooke Benz (14) and Kaylee Dupuis (13) were Pinkerton's leading scorers. Alexandria White led the Astros with nine rebounds.

Pinkerton led 18-16 after one quarter, but the Bulldogs held the Astros to five points in the second quarter and led 26-23 at halftime. Bedford was up 43-36 entering the fourth.

Bedford had a 38-20 edge in points in the paint.

"Everyone stepped up when we needed them to," Allard said. "When we heard that final buzzer, I just wanted to enjoy it with the team. We were so happy for each other. We worked so hard to get there. It was just happiness."

rbrown@unionleader.com