With the Raiders already struggling to hit shots, Flaherty’s prowess from distance only made it worse.

“I felt it in the beginning and it just stayed with me through the game,” Flaherty, a senior guard, said.

Flaherty’s hot shooting helped the Falcons stake the early lead and Mountain Valley didn’t look back in a 53-26 win. It was the 10th straight win for the Falcons (15-1).

Flaherty finished with 17 points, including five 3s. At one point in the third quarter, Flaherty had nearly outscored the entire Oak Hill offense. She had 17 to Oak Hill’s 18 points.

“We talk an awful lot about that — if we start strong and teams start to identify what we’re doing and make adjustments, if one of our players can hit a big shot, it can change the momentum,” Mountain Valley coach Ryan Casey said. “Karen did that for us two or three times.”

Sydney Petrie added 11 points for the Falcons, which had nine different players score. Liza White added eight while Emily Billings had five.

Oak Hill (7-9) got eight from Abby Nadeau and six from Bri Mulherin. The Raiders shot 6-for-40 from the floor and were just 4-for-18 in the first half. Then Oak Hill shot 0-for-9 in the third. Though the Raiders hit the first shot of the game, it was a struggle from that point on offensively.

“We didn’t shoot well,” Oak Hill coach Charlie Castonguay said. “It was not one of our better shooting nights, that’s for sure.”

Oak Hill scored half its points from the free throw line. After Jamie Prue hit the first shot of the game, the Raiders didn’t score from the floor again until a Madison Bennett basket with 27 seconds left in the quarter. Mountain Valley opened the lead with a 14-1 run to make it 14-5 after the first.

“We were hoping that we’d make it a little closer than it was and improve where we were last time when we played them,” said Castonguay, whose team lost to the Falcons 49-33 earlier this season. “If we hit a few more shots, it might have made a difference, at least as far as feeling good about what we were doing on the court.”

Flaherty led the first quarter surge as the Falcons  hit four of its first six shots. She had a steal for a basket and then hit a 3 to make it 8-2. Petrie hit two free throws, Billings scored on a drive and Liza White hit a jumper and Mountain Valley had the double-digit lead.

“It was good to start out like that early because we’re usually a fast starting team,” Flaherty said. “So it was big to start out like that.”

Oak Hill hit a couple of shots early in the second to make a dent into the lead. Mulherin and Nadeau each scored and the Raiders were as close as eight points and later nine points, but each time Flaherty had an answer. Flaherty drilled a trio of 3’s in the second quarter and had the Falcons up 29-16 at the half.

The Raiders zone made it easy for Flaherty to roam the perimeter and get open looks. Each time Oak Hill had even the slightest offensive surge, Flaherty crushed the comeback hopes with a 3.

“It was kind of soft,” Flaherty said of the defense on her. “There were a lot of looks that were there.”

White had a pair of baskets and Ashley Russell also scored to keep Mountain Valley in control. After the early baskets, Oak Hill only got free throws the rest of the half. Nadeau six points in the quarter while Mulherin had four.

The Falcons then blew the game open in the third with a 12-2 run. Oak Hill didn’t hit a field goal. Petrie had six points while Flaherty hit another 3.

With Mountain Valley holding the top seed in Class B South and Oak Hill hovering around the eighth seed, the two teams could meet again in a few weeks.

“We know that Oak Hill plays well and plays very hard,” Casey. “They’re in a playoff hunt just like we are. We knew we were going to have to make some good shots early on. I think we started shooting well early. We had a bit of a lull, and then we played really well down the stretch.”

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