HINSDALE, N.H. -- Hinsdale girls basketball coach Terry Bonnette was showered with ice water after Friday night’s game at the Stable, but it was actually his daughter who needed to be cooled off.
Skylar Bonnette made all five shots that she took from downtown and finished with a game-high 20 points, leading the Pacers to a 51-47 victory over visiting Sunapee.
It also capped off the first perfect regular season in program history.
"I’m ecstatic," said Skylar Bonnette, who never seemed rattled despite the full house and what was at stake. "I think defense is what makes us so good. We have played good defense all season."
The Pacers, which have won all 18 regular-season games using a stingy 2-1-2 zone, will host a first-round playoff game on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
"It’s pretty amazing to go undefeated. These girls deserve it. They have worked hard," stated the Hinsdale coach as he wiped bits of ice off of his face. "But starting Sunday, it’s a new season. You lose one and you’re done at this point."
With eight minutes to go in Friday’s game and his team clinging to a one-point lead, coach Bonnette had to be wondering if his Pacers might taste defeat for the first time. But the hosts started the final quarter off with a 9-0 surge, ignited by Skylar’s fifth trifecta, and were able to hold on.
Kenzie Bonnette, Bridget Bourne and Roxy Toussaint all pulled down a crucial defensive rebound in the final two minutes, Hinsdale Athletic Director Mike McCosker began pumping his fist as the final seconds ticked away, the fans started going crazy, the excited Pacers did a group hug on the court, and coach Bonnette was doused.
Skylar (20 points), Scott (12) and Bourne (8) paced the winners offensively, on a Senior Night when Taylor Roberts, Taylor Coleman, Toussaint and Kenzie were all honored. Erika Waterman and Sydney Clark scored 12 and 11 points respectively to lead Sunapee.
The visiting Lakers stole a 9-3 lead in the first five minutes, before Skylar took over. The junior point guard drained consecutive shots from beyond the arc, with the second of those tying the score at 9-9 and sending the home crowd into a frenzy, and then set up Bourne for an easy bucket.
Sunapee’s coach could be heard screaming, "Don’t leave her," as he pointed toward Skylar in the second quarter, but it didn’t matter. She was in a zone.
Skylar buried two more treys in that eight-minute span to help the Pacers open up a lead. Brianna Benjamin and Allison Scott each hit a mid-range jumper, before Hinsdale took a 26-21 advantage to the break.
The Lakers battled back in the third frame to pull even at 31-31, thanks to 3-pointers from Erika Waterman and Sydney Clark. There was no quit in the hosts, however -- Scott made a hustle save, Benjamin came up with a big time steal, and Toussaint was setting screens and finding open teammates.
The Pacers, who were wearing pink jerseys and socks during a game in which all proceeds went to Dana Farber, would take a 38-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
Skylar splashed another 3 and went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, Scott knocked down a 15-footer and added a free throw, and Toussaint did a little bit of everything as the hosts opened up a 47-37 advantage with 5:19 to go.
Hinsdale did its best to milk the clock, but Sunapee would close to within four points on back-to-back triples from Waterman and Clark. And they got as close as three points with one minute left.
A free throw by Scott more or less iced it. And moments later, coach Bonnette would feel the ice water on his head.
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.