Concord Christian Women’s Basketball Wins D-IV Title, Ends Undefeated Season
Concord Christian’s women’s basketball team had a mission. The end result was never in doubt, but the Lady Kingsmen were all on the pitch until the final bell rang. But after the honking, the girls’ celebration was one of mission accomplished: a perfect season and a state championship.
The Lady Kingsmen lived up to their No.1 seed, taking an early lead and never trailing in a crushing 46-28 win over No.3 Derryfield (19-3) to claim the first ever title. women’s basketball in Sunday program history at Keene State College and finish a perfect 20-0 season.
The championship was Concord Christian Academy‘s first title in any team sport since the boys’ soccer team won the Class S title in 1993.
“We’re all so excited,” said senior Jordan Rioux, who scored five points and is the roster’s only upper class member. “We have worked so hard to get to this end point. Our school has never won a championship, or even been this far. This is a great victory for our school.
Sunday’s win showcased everything the ACC girls are known for: relentless defense, fast ground speed and ball movement, and a well-rounded offense.
Concord Christian pushed the tempo early, forcing Cougar turnovers on Derryfield’s first three possessions of the game and quickly taking an 8-0 lead.
“It’s just the way we play,” ACC head coach Rebecca Carlile said. “We push the ball. We use our speed to our advantage. The girls know they have to look up at the floor to see who’s there ahead and get to the edge.
Eighth-grader Sarah Muir was all over the floor, picking up five steals — all in the first half — in addition to recording eight points, four rebounds and two assists.
A Division IV All-Defensive Team selection by D-IV coaches, Muir was key in holding Derryfield rookie Elyse Ngenda – the D-IV Player of the Year – to eight points and rebounds , significantly lower than the 26 points and 21 rebounds she had in the semifinals.
“Our team must have played really great defensive play,” said ACC head coach Rebecca Carlile. “It was a huge team effort to allow Sarah to put so much pressure on Elyse.”
Freshman Lilli Carlile (10 points, nine rebounds, block) was strong inside, while eighth-placed Kayden Rioux (nine points) was 3-for-4 from 3-point range to help Concord Christian take a lead 18-4 after the first quarter and a 27-9 advantage at halftime.
The pace slowed in the second half, but the two teams played a 19-19 draw in the final 16 minutes of the season and Derryfield couldn’t come close to a 15-point deficit.
All nine players for the Lady Kingsmen played at least five minutes on the field and eight of the nine found the scoring column, which is rare to see deep in the playoffs, especially in a league game.
Sophomore Megan Muir (four points, three steals, two assists), eighth graders Emma Smith and Kate Smith (four points and three rebounds each), sophomore Taylor Rioux (two points, two rebounds), and rookie Lylah Shumway helped CCA collectively force 25 Derryfield turnovers, while committing just 19, and also won the rebound battle, 29-27.
“We did a really good job controlling the boards,” said coach Carlile. “We are small, so we have to box every time. We don’t really have great players, we’re a team full of guards, so (getting more rebounds) was huge.
Of the nine CCA players who suited up for the game (junior Kate Laboe was out due to injury), four are eighth-graders and two are freshmen. Even Rioux’s older sister – a senior – only played for the CCA for two years, but the team quickly became a cohesive group.
The entire roster – coaches included – is made up of five families who Rioux says worked to their advantage.
“A few of us had seen each other play before, but we’re such a small school, we’re used to growing closer quickly. It made our bond so much better.
“They’re such a fun group to coach,” Carlile said. “I’m proud of them. It’s fun to win and even more fun to win it team-wide. We just have a strong team and a strong girl group. I’m super proud of all of us.