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Sarah Kober’s triple-double lifts Hampshire past Palmer

Sarah Kober, right, recorded a triple-double Friday to pace the Hampshire Regional girls basketball team past Palmer.

FILE PHOTO Sarah Kober, right, recorded a triple-double Friday to pace the Hampshire Regional girls basketball team past Palmer. Purchase photo reprints »

WESTHAMPTON — It had been two weeks since the Hampshire Regional basketball team played a competitive game, and Sarah Kober spent all day Friday looking forward to it.

That the game was against Palmer only added to her excitement.

“I woke up (Friday) morning so excited for the game. I was all jittery and I couldn’t wait,” said Kober, whose team was swept by the eventual sectional champion Panthers last year. “I was sitting through school waiting for it to be over, just to be able to play tonight’s game.”

The senior forward turned the nerves into arguably her best varsity game, posting a triple-double with 20 points, 21 rebounds and 10 steals, along with four assists as the Raiders knocked off the Panthers 65-43 at home.

“She’s gone from a more timid (freshman) who doesn’t speak a lot to a kid who is now a leader,” coach Rich Moussette said. “She played tonight like she’s the best player around. She played a great game. There aren’t many games like that.”

Hampshire (7-2, 2-0 Bi-County East) was last challenged in a 40-38 win at Westfield. Since then the Raiders have beaten Southwick 63-12 and Commerce 66-5.

“I thought coming in after our Tuesday game (against Commerce), we were very sluggish on Wednesday in practice,” Moussette said. “But we had a good, upbeat, uptempo practice on Thursday. It was a very positive practice and I thought in translated into today. A good start also helped.”

Hampshire jumped out to a 7-1 lead behind an Anna Dziok layup, a Lauren Aldrich free throw and two Kober baskets, and took a 16-8 advantage into the first break.

“I think we were psyched to be playing a good game,” Aldrich said. “It was another good game. Everybody loves playing in these kinds of games.”

The Panthers (7-4, 1-1) cut the deficit to 18-14 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the half, but Hampshire responded with an 11-0 run to close out the frame.

Dziok got things started with a 3-pointer from the left side. Aldrich then forced a steal on the ensuing possession and went coast to coast for the layup and drew a foul. The free throw missed, but Bri Weltlich (six points, five rebounds) was there to put in the offensive rebound for a 25-14 lead with 2:14 left.

Kober then scored a pair of baskets in the final 1:11 to end the second quarter. Palmer never recovered.

“Our team played very composed tonight,” Moussette said. “At times, it got a little crazy, but that’s us. That’s how we play. Run, run, run. I think we tired (Palmer) out.”

Hampshire limited Palmer standout senior point guard Alyssa Darling to 10 points, using a diamond-and-one with Chelsea Moussette, Weltlich and Kober each getting time as the chaser.

“It was pretty interesting,” Kober, a forward, said of playing on Darling. “I got caught watching a few times because I’m usually down low. But it was good for the team to have a change of pace and I thought we executed it pretty well.”

Chelsea Moussette, a freshman, handled the constant pressure from Darling well on the offensive end as well.

“Alyssa Darling is a great player,” Rich Moussette said. “We needed to make sure we handled the pressure against her defense when Chelsea had the ball. Chelsea did a really, really nice job of breaking pressure, moving the ball up and getting us in good spots. I was really pleased with how she played.”

Dziok finished with 11 points, while Aldrich had nine along with eight rebounds and three steals.

“It was a great performance by Sarah, a leading performance, but it was a wonderful team effort tonight,” Moussette said. “Our defense was terrific and everyone contributed.”

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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