BBA eventually got it to within one possession, but Fair Haven hit their free throws to stave off the Lady Bulldogs and come away with the 47-36 victory on Friday night at BBA.
"We had two choices at that point," said Burr and Burton Head Coach Terry Merrow. "When it was 16-0 we had two choices. We could have rolled over and said that's it; or we could dig in and play and they chose to dig in and play and I think that says a lot about these kids. I mean, I thought they played hard. Of all the three games I thought it was our best game."
Despite the rocky start, Burr and Burton turned up the intensity in the second quarter and began a run of their own starting with a bucket from sophomore forward Claudia Mosher. After a pair of field goals from Nicholson and a bucket by sophomore guard Maggie Oliver, Mosher hit a three to cut the Slaters lead to six. After grabbing an offensive rebound on the following possession, Mosher was sent to the line and converted on both chances to cut Fair Haven's lead to four shortly before the half. After some Fair Haven free throws and a BBA field goal, Burr and Burton went into halftime down 23-18.
The Slaters drew first blood at the start of the third quarter as junior Alexis Ellis hit senior Hunter Pedro in transition for a quick two. BBA came right back feeding Nicholson underneath the basket
The next possession, senior captain Rory Halligan hit a jumper in the lane. But the Slaters would not relinquish the lead. A few plays later, junior Bethany Lanfear lobbed a pass over a Burr and Burton defender to Pedro who converted a three-point play to put the Slaters on top 31-22.
BBA came to play though. After Halligan and Nicholson hit two field goals in consecutive possessions, Mosher grabbed her own rebound on the next possession put the shot back up and coverted a three-point play of her own to narrow the gap to 4 with 3:06 left to play in the third. The next possession after battling for the rebound underneath, Nicholson finally got the ball and put it in to pull BBA within two.
Foul shots proved to be the difference maker though as Fair Haven went 26 for 39 from the charity stripe.
Following the game, Fair Haven Head Coach Kyle Wilson said there were a couple of things that contributed to the team's win.
"We rely a lot on our post play and I thought our post play was tremendous tonight as it has been all season and when you're able to finish around the basket they have to do things differently and they foul you. It's nice when your bigs make free throws too," he said. "I thought early on our press kind of led to some easy buckets for us offensively and that kind of dissipated as the night went along. We played half court man [coverage] fairly well I thought [in] the later third and fourth quarter and I thought that was the difference. That and our free throws down the stretch."
Despite the difficult loss, however, Merrow was encouraged by the performance his team turned in.
"Our kids played tough," said Merrow. "It's only game three and our future looks great. I know every kid contributed tonight and that's what you want from your team."
Nicholson was BBA's high scorer with 14 and Mosher also turned in solid performance putting up 10 points.
Pedro led the Slaters in scoring with 11 points, followed closely by Lanfear - who had nine - and junior Elizabeth Fyles and senior Jennifer Genier who each had eight.