KHS girls basketball - Larry Meader

Kennett High senior guard Maddie Stewart was a member of the first-ever NHSportspage Girls Basketball Senior Team which squared off against the New England Crusaders in Manchester on Sunday. (LARRY MEADER PHOTO)

CONWAY — Kennett High senior guard Maddie Stewart wrapped up her high school basketball career in Manchester on Sunday when she suited up in an all-star game for the NHSportspage Girls Basketball Senior Team against the famed New England Crusaders AAU team.

Stewart, who was selected as a member of the first-ever NHSportspage Girls Basketball Senior Team, a collection of the top senior female basketball players in the Granite State, nearly won the game for her squad when she hit two free throws with 6 seconds left to put her team ahead 81-80, but the Crusaders won the game with two successful foul shots with no time left on the clock 82-81.

“It was a great game and a great way to spend my birthday,” said Larry Meader, coach of the Kennett High girls’ basketball team after attending the game.

The game was played at the Derryfield School in the air-conditioned gymnasium.

Stewart finished with four points, three assists, five steals and five rebounds.

“I thought we were going to have the perfect ending with Maddie hitting the game-winning free throws,” Meader said.

Meader said Stewart was selected as a starter for the New Hampshire squad.

“There were 12 girls on the team and they kept rotating to keep people fresh,” he said. “Maddie’s team was down by as many as 13 points but they kept battling back.”

Stewart, 18, the daughter of Kim and Greg Stewart of Center Conway, is one of just four Division II players selected to the team. She joined Ami Rivera, the Division II Player of the Year from Bishop Brady; Madison Houghton of Sanborn; and Sally Rainey of Lebanon.

Rainey was unable to participate due to soccer commitments.

The team, which was coached by Kevin Gibbs of Bedford, also included Sarah Dempsey of Windham; Isabella King, Bedford; Sage Smith, Colebrook; Sophie Bardis, Fall Mountain; Jess Carrier, Manchester Memorial; Angelina Nardolillo, Hinsdale; Elizabeth Gonyea, Conant; Gillian Waller, Merrimack; Emmy Plage, Derryfield; Mary Paradis, Spaulding; and Colby Guinta, Trinity.

Bardis and Waller were also unable to attend the game.

Suiting up for the New England Crusaders, coached by Kara Leary were Emma Kasyjanski, Kate Allard, Lana McCathy and Devlyn MacDonald all of Bedford High; Stella Galanes, Sydney McLaughlin and Melissa Whitemore all of Hanover; Elisabeth Staplefeld and McKenna Dunn both of Hollis-Brookline; Avery Romps of Portsmouth; Sydney Hyacinthe of Milton Academy; Amelia Hansom of Andover; Catherine King of Wachusett Regional; Maggie Sasso of Goffstown; Olivetti Okoh of Kimball Union; Avery Marzo of Shrewsbury; Tegan Young of Lawrence Academy; and Ellie Pingree of St. Pauls.

“That the same AAU team that Allie (Wagner) and Melissa (Frasse) played on,” said Meader. “It was kind of neat to see Maddie and Melissa Whitemore guarding each other because that was the matchup in the semifinals (that Kennett won 51-50 in overtime at Bedford High School on March 11).

Stewart was named by the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization to the Division II All-State, First-Team, in March. She also was named to the All-Defensive Team.

Stewart, a tri-captain on the state runner-up team with fellow seniors Ella Chandler and Sierra Parsons, led the Eagles in scoring, rebounding and assists this winter and never left the court in four playoff games, including the 54-52 loss to Bishop Brady in the title game on March 14. She scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the finals.

“Maddie is a special player and a very special young lady,” said Coach Larry Meader, who presented Stewart, age 18, with the prestigious Russ Award at the Kennett High Winter Sports Awards on March 15.

Stewart, who earned Second-Team, All-State accolades as a sophomore while helping to guide the hometown flock to the championship game in 2019, was selected as WMUR’s (Channel 9) Hometown Hero last week.

The Kennett High girls’ basketball team fresh of an appearance in the state championship game in March, is heading back to work on Saturday, June 19, holding a fundraiser. The Eagles will hold a car wash from 9 a.m. to noon at Mountain Center Physical Therapy in Conway Village.

Meader said the Eagles are raising money for our summer program which includes sending a varsity team to the St Joseph's Team Camp (in Standish, Maine); the first annual Crossroad Tournament in Bedford on July 24 and a tournament in Foxboro, Mass., against teams from across New England on July 31.

In addition, the team will be playing in a summer league with Fryeburg Academy, Sacopee Valley and Kingswood every Tuesday and Thursday night beginning on June 17.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Meader said. “We have eight returning players who are all pretty much basketball-focussed.”

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