Kimball propels Merrimack Valley girls to Div. II hoop title
MANCHESTER — Teams are going to have their hands full with Merrimack Valley of Penacook forward Mayson Kimball in the next couple years.
Kimball, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward, scored a game-high 18 points to lead fourth-seeded Merrimack Valley to a 55-49 triumph over sixth-seeded Coe-Brown of Northwood in Sunday’s Division II championship game at Southern New Hampshire University.
Kimball, who also had a game-high 13 rebounds, collected 91 points in Merrimack Valley’s four tournament games.
“It’s her sport and she really had a breakout year,” MV coach David Huckins said. “Pretty good tournament for a sophomore.”
Merrimack Valley, which was playing in a championship game for the first time since 2004, finished its season with an 18-4 record.
“I’ve been working for this,” Kimball said. “I wanted it so bad. Our whole team wanted it.”
It was a 44-44 contest until Merrimack Valley took a lead it wouldn’t surrender when Cassidy Huckins made a 3-pointer that made it 47-44 with 3:44 to play. Merrimack Valley made four free throws in the final 9.5 seconds to seal the victory.
Mary Mullen was the only other Merrimack Valley player who scored in double figures (16).
Coe-Brown, which doesn’t have a senior on its roster, completed its season with a 16-6 record. The Bears went 13-3 following a 3-3 start. It was Coe-Brown’s first trip to the final since it won the Class I title in 2000.
“She’s phenomenal,” Coe-Brown coach Dave Hartnett said when asked about Kimball’s performance. “She was very impressive. She has guard skills in a forward’s body. She got better as the season went on.”
Sydney Fisher led Coe-Brown with 13 points. Jennifer Schlim (12) and Abigail Ahern (11) were the Bears’ other leading scorers. Ahern and Haley Ruth each finished with a team-high seven rebounds.
Kimball scored the game’s first nine points and Merrimack Valley led 15-2 with 1:25 left in the opening quarter, but Coe-Brown closed the gap with a 10-0 run that began late in the first and carried into the second.
Merrimack Valley led 30-25 at halftime and shot 54.2 percent from the field (13 for 24) through the first two quarters. Coe-Brown made four of its eight 3-point attempts in the half, but missed eight of its 11 shots from the free throw line.
Coe-Brown outscored Merrimack Valley 13-5 in the third and led 38-35 with eight minutes to play.
It was the third meeting between the teams this season. Merrimack Valley prevailed 57-53 and 41-34 during the regular season.
“It was a game of ebb and flows,” Hartnett said. “I think if the game were five minutes longer we’re having a different conversation.”