Emmy Plage is back and ready to go for the Derryfield School of Manchester girls’ basketball team this season.
That much was obvious Friday night as Plage, who missed last season with an injury, led all scorers with 21 points in Derryfield’s 47-25 win over Epping.
“It’s great to have her back,” Cougars coach Natalie Wilson said. “She’s just an all-around player. I can ask her to guard anyone on the court. I can ask her to do anything and she just does it. Coachable kid that works really hard.”
The Blue Devils (2-1) did a good job keeping Plage quiet in the first quarter, holding her without a bucket on 0-for-3 shooting from the floor and 0-for-2 at the line. Once she found her rhythm in the second, though, there was no stopping her.
Plage finished with 10 points in the second period, making a pair of threes, and helping Derryfield (2-1) to a 24-13 lead at halftime.
She poured in another seven in the third quarter, where her scoring supplemented a pressure defense Epping couldn’t seem to figure out. The Cougars held the Blue Devils to two points in the frame, pressuring the ball full court and forcing Epping to make mistakes even when it was able to get the ball across the timeline.
“It’s funny, I don’t think the backcourt pressure was the problem,” Epping coach Andrew Marden said. “The problem was the pressure speeding us up. We got the ball across half court and then we kept playing at that press speed in a smaller space. If you look at the game film, all the turnovers really occurred between our 3-point line and the halfcourt line. We’ll work on that.”
Epping had trouble coping with Derryfield’s size as well. Erin Glosner is around 6 feet tall and registered multiple blocks throughout the game, deterring some of the Blue Devils’ attempts at easy baskets. Eventually, Haley Pelletier was able to figure out ways to get some open looks, but it wasn’t at a high enough rate where her team could keep pace with Derryfield.
“She’s great and she’s learned a lot,” Wilson said of Glosner. “We’re really able to use her in the post. She’s figuring out when to block shots and how to use her body. The results have been good so far.”
Pelletier was second among Epping players with eight points. Oakley Lustenberger led all Blue Devils with nine points, including one three.
While the scoreboard might indicate a near-perfect game for the Cougars, Wilson still saw plenty she’d like for her team to improve upon.
“We’re finally starting to put the ball in the net, but we still need to work on free throws,” she said. “I don’t think we shot very well this game and we haven’t shot them well in the past. Free throw percentage is going to be huge. We also have to stay out of foul trouble in close games.”
Derryfield will look to win its second game in a row when it visits Farmington on Wednesday. Epping will try to bounce back Monday at Farmington.
By Tim MacLean New Hampshire Union Leader