LITTLETON — New role. Same Sage Smith.
Sliding over to point guard from shooting guard, the Colebrook senior and reigning Division IV Player of the Year finished with 26 points to lead the defending champion Mohawks past Littleton 54-34 on Monday.
“I thought Sage handled the move very well,” said Duane Call, Colebrook’s first-year head coach who replaced longtime sideline boss Steve Cass in the offseason.
Smith scored from all three levels in the Mohawks’ season opener, hitting a three, from mid-range, in close and at the foul line. She scored nine of her 12 first-half points in the opening stanza and closed out the game with 10 fourth-quarter points. She was also the primary ballhandler and affected the game in every facet. She added six steals, five rebounds and three assists in a dominant performance.
“She was a menace for them all night on both sides of the ball,” Call said.
Standout CA forward Sam Howe finished with a double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) while Emma McKeage finished with nine points.
It was a strong performance for McKeage, the sophomore guard. She will be taking on a bigger role this winter for the Mohawks, who return four starters (graduated star point guard Mackenzie Scherer) after winning the program’s first crown last March.
“Emma’s been working a lot on her shot and she showed it tonight,” Call said. “She hit open jumpers and that’s what we need.”
The teams traded baskets early and Colebrook led 15-11 after the opening quarter. But the Mohawks pulled ahead with a 9-2 second quarter and led 24-13 at the break. The champs stayed comfortably ahead in the second half.
Olivia Corrigan scored a team-high 11 points for the Crusaders, nine points coming on three 3s in the fourth quarter.
Both teams played well defensively, pressure defense and early-season nerves helping force a combined 46 turnovers (23 for LHS) in front of a mostly empty gym. No spectators were allowed and masks were mandatory — the normal for the 2021 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Credit to Littleton. They were aggressive, they played hard,” Call said.
Littleton, coming off an overtime win at rival White Mountains on Friday, played tough. The Crusaders moved the ball well, too but struggled to hit open shots. They shot 26 percent on the night.
It was too much Smith and the Mohawks on Monday.
“We contested most of Sage’s shots, but she was really good tonight,” LHS coach Dale Prior said. “Sometimes you just tip your cap. We left too many points off the board early and didn’t shoot a good enough percentage.
“This was a good measuring stick to see what we have to improve on. They are the defending champs for a reason.”
Colebrook hosts Groveton on Friday while Littleton visits Gorham on Thursday.
CA (1-0): Sage Smith 8-9-26, Samantha Howe 5-1-11, Emma McKeage 4-1-9, Shyanna Fuller 1-0-2, Ariana Lord 2-2-6. Totals: 20-FG 13-16-FT 54.
LHS (1-1): Hannah Brown 2-1-6, Olivia Corrigan 4-0-11, Nicoria Johnson 1-0-2, Kaylee Manzella 4-0-8, Lauren McKee 3-0-6, Maddy Carbonneau 0-1-1. Totals: 14-FG 2-6-FT 34.
CA 15 9 12 18 — 54
LHS 11 2 8 13 — 34
3-Point FG: C 1 (Smith); L 4 (Brown, Corrigan 3). Team Fouls: C 7, L 11.
LITTLETON 69, COLEBROOK 40: In Colebrook, Littleton big men Josh Finkle (18 points and 11 rebounds) and Stephen Lucas (17 points, eight rebounds) had big nights against the undersized Mohawks, leading the Crusaders to a road rout.
LHS’ Mike Hampson scored 10 points in his second game back after missing two years with an ACL injury.
“We slept-walked through the first quarter then it got a little better,” Crusader coach Trevor Howard said. “The bigs played well. We need better consistency.”
Littleton hosts Gorham on Thursday at 6:30.
LHS (2-0): Parker Paradice 0-1-1, Landon Bromley 2-2-7, Mike Hampson 5-0-10, Stephen Lucas 8-1-17, Josh Finkle 8-1-18, Jason Hamilton 2-0-4, Grady Millen 2-0-5, Spenser Stevens 1-0-3, Kayden Hoskins 2-0-4. Totals: 30-FG 5-13-FT 69.
CA (0-2): Carson Rancourt 1-0-2, Sam Villa 0-2-2, Kolten Dowse 6-1-14, Marik Boire 1-2-4, Kaiden Dowse 2-2-6, Maddox Godzyk 3-0-6, Keenan Hurlbert 1-4-6. Totals: 14-FG 11-14-FT 40.
LHS 12 20 21 16 — 69
CA 10 4 11 15 — 40
3-Point FG: L 4 (Bromley, Finkle, Millen, Stevens); C 1 (Kolten Dowse). Team Fouls: L 20, C 10.