DERRY — The Sports-Zone hosted more than 72 teams for the AAU girls district qualifying tournament for the National Championships. The New England Shooting Stars won the 15U 10th grade tournament championship, in spite of being without one of their top three-point shooters, Colleen Frey of Pelham, due to a shoulder injury.
The Stars’ first opponent was the Barrington Storm and they found themselves trailing by one, 29-28, at halftime. The Stars stayed in the game, due in large part to hitting 8 out of 10 free throws and Brittney Roche of Londonderry hitting two key three-pointers (8 points total), and Tayler White of Keene with 6 points.
The Stars’ defense held the Storm to 21 points in the second half. Vanessa Fleury of Lebanon scored 11 points in the second half (15 points total) and secured 10 rebounds. Rachael Cormier of Andover, Mass., and Megan Collins of N. Andover, Mass., supported her efforts with 10 and 9 points respectively, securing a 54-50 victory.
The Stars’ next opponents were the Stateline Jammers. They held a 25-14 margin at the half, with Sammy Trearchis of Tyngsboro hitting on 5 of her 7 points, and Cormier and Roche with 6 points each in the first half.
“Our defense absolutely fell asleep in the second half and we were very impatient offensively,” Stars’ coach Dennis Reed said.
That resulted in a 47-37 loss for the Stars.
As the second seed in bracket play, the Stars faced the NH Elite. With their defense back on track, they garnered a 52-25 win on the strength of Jackie Panneton of Salem with 14 points and 8 rebounds and Tyra-Ann Scott of Methuen contributing with 6 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Rene Roggenbuck of Goffstown chipped in 5 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 assists.
Advancing to the semi-final round in the championship bracket, the Stars faced the Northeastern Lady Panthers, and came away with a 57-29 win. The Stars were led by Collins with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals; Panneton with 10 points, 11 rebounds; Scott with 9 points; Trearchis with 7 points; Roche with 4 points; and Hannah Neild of Litchfield with 4 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals.
The Stars earned a rematch with the Stateline Jammers for the championship game. The Stars recommitted to defense, holding a 21-15 advantage at the half.
They went on to win, 41-29, on the strength of Collins’ 13 points and 5 rebounds, and Cormier’s 11 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
“It was especially encouraging to see the girls play totally unselfish basketball and really focus on their defensive effort,” Reed said.
The team secured its 21st state championship in 22 years. The Stars will continue their season with tournaments in Rhode Island, Springfield, Mass., Albany, N.Y., Burlington Vt., Scranton, Penn., Orlando, Fla. (National Championships), and Washington, D.C. (US Junior Nationals).