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Hodgson takes charge vs. Concord for girls conference basketball championship

MILLTOWN – Hodgson used a big second-half run to blow open a close game and beat the Concord Raiders, 54-38, to win the Blue Hen Conference girls championship Saturday afternoon at St. Mark's High School.

Hodgson had a two-point lead at the half thanks to a basket by sophomore Wynter McLaughlin with two seconds remaining in the second quarter, and the Silver Eagles kept the momentum going when the third started. They went on a 7-0 run in the half's first minute, capped by a three-pointer by Brianna Flemings. Hodgson would outscore the Raiders, 20-7, in the third, taking a 42-27 lead into the fourth.

The Silver Eagles continued their strong defense throughout the second half, and on offense they dominated the boards. Concord was hurt in that area by the absence of Holly Panchak, who suffered a broken nose in a game on Thursday, and a shoulder injury to senior forward Meghan Doogan. Doogan played, but her shoulder was wrapped. She left the game early in the fourth quarter but still managed a game-high 17 points.

The game started with both offenses struggling while the defenses prevailed. Concord started with a 7-0 lead, five of which came from Doogan. Hodgson (17-4) rebounded to score the next five before Raiders senior Taylor Azer knocked down a three-pointer to make it 10-5. Silver Eagles senior Tierra Johnson scored four quick fast-break points in the second, and Hodgson would go on to lead by two at the break, although it could have been more if they had hit better than five of their 10 free throws.

Johnson led the Silver Eagles with 10 points, while Flemings added nine.

The teams now gear up for the postseason. Hodgson,the ninth seed in the state tournament, hosts No. 24 Delcastle on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Silver Eagles defeated Delcastle, 68-29, on Jan. 14.

Concord (16-5), the sixth seed, has a first-round bye and will host a second-round game Thursday at 7 p.m. The Raiders will welcome the winner of No. 22 A.I. duPont-No. 11 Sussex Central, who meet Tuesday. Concord did not play Central, but they defeated A.I. on Jan. 30, 66-39.

Tickets for the first round are $5. Call the schools for availability.