WALES — Oak Hill spent a quarter subduing its first-game jitters, then subdued Monmouth Academy to the tune of six second-half points to pull away with a 43-21 win in both teams’ Mountain Valley Conference girls basketball opener Saturday.

Abby Nadeau scored a game-high 15 points and Desirae Dumais scored nine of her 12 points in the game-changing second quarter for the Raiders. Kaeti Butterfield led Monmouth with five points while being plagued with foul trouble.

After emerging from a see-saw first quarter with an 11-10 lead, Oak Hill held Monmouth without a field goal for roughly half of the game to take command in the second and third quarters, where they outscored the Mustangs, 26-5.

“Defense is the key thing that we work on in practice, you know, communicating and staying positive constantly,” Nadeau said. “Whether you’re in the game or out of it, you’re always up and in it.”

Butterfield gave the Mustangs a 14-13 lead with a hoop early in the second quarter. They wouldn’t make another field goal until Katie Harris’ layup with 6:25 remaining in the game.

The two-time defending Class C state champions, Monmouth was playing its first regular season game under new head coach Rick Larrabee, who was appointed prior to the start of preseason when coach Scott Wing was fired for reasons Monmouth administrators have not disclosed.

The Mustangs also graduated three starters and lost another, senior forward Destiny Clough, to injury.

“With everybody stepping into new roles, we have to learn to make adjustments and players need to learn to keep that mental stability,” Larrabee said. “They have to learn to deal with adversity, because with everybody in new roles, they’re doing stuff that they never had to do last year.”

“Our main goal was to stay up with really good pressure on Monmouth, really get in their head and stay on top constantly,” Nadeau said. “Monmouth is always one of our toughest competitors, so we always come in and respect them. We never underestimate any team.”

“We are going to get everybody’s best game every game, from the best team in the league to the worst team in the league,” Larrabee said. “People are going to come out to see what Monmouth is now with all of the changes and it’s going to take awhile for the players to adapt.”

Dumais put the Raiders in front for good with a three-point play to make it 16-14 and kick off a 15-1 run to end the half. Nadeau’s three-pointer gave them a double-digit lead, 25-14, with 1:37 left in the half.

An Abby Ferland free throw broke up the Raiders’ run, which ended with a 28-15 lead at halftime.

“I think the nerves just settled down a little bit,” Oak Hill coach Mike Labonte said. “When our kids decide to put some really good pressure on ball and just be aggressive on defense, they make other teams very uncomfortable. That’s a very good team that’s going to win a lot of games and we made them uncomfortable.”

“Defensively, they played very good help side,” Larrabee said of Oak Hill. “They doubled down on our bigs, and they pressured the wings really well so we weren’t able to get the ball into the post. Whether we swung the ball around or drove, there was always a second defender there.”

Neither team could find the range to start the second half until Audrey Dillman broke the ice for Oak Hill with a baseline drive midway through the third quarter. The Mustangs missed all 11 of their shots in the period and trailed, 37-15, at the end of it.

“It all starts from the defensive end,” Labonte said. “We’re not the greatest shooting team, so we’ve got to grind things out. We’ve really got to make things tough for other teams.”

“If someone is going to score 15 points for three quarters on us,” he added, “I like our chances.”

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