Recap: Newton North 53, Newton South 28

Maddie Bledsoe's defense on Newton South's star guard, Lehigh-bound senior Kayla Burton, fueled Newton North's win. Ryan Kilian for ESPN

NEWTON, Mass. --- Basketball is often considered a game of runs and on Friday evening Newton North (5-1) outscored Newton South, 21-2 in the third quarter, en route to a 53-28 victory over cross-town rival Newton South in the 2012 Newton Holiday Girls Basketball Classic.

“We bought into the fact that defense wins games,” Newton North head coach Linda Martindale said after the game. “Newton South did not score a basket in the third quarter and that proved to be the difference in the game. Once we believed that our defense was going to win us the game our offense came around.”

North and South (2-3) both came out strong defensively to start the game as they battled back and forth in an evenly-played first quarter. North took a narrow 13-10 lead to the second quarter.

As the game dictated, both teams went on runs in the second quarter as North built a 21-12 lead with four minutes remaining in the half, only to see South battle back to tie the game at 21-21 at the half.

The third quarter proved to be the deciding quarter in the game, as North completely stymied the South offense, forced turnovers in the full-court and executed in transition to build a 43-22 lead after three quarters.

North sophomore Amanda Ortiz was instrumental in the run, as she had three steals and eight or her 10 points in the frame.

“We lost to this team last year on the last play of the game by one point,” Martindale said. “Our mentality was that every possession counts this year because we did not want it to come down to the last possession again.”

North was led by the frontcourt duo of senior Gemma Lurie and junior Maddie Bledsoe. The duo combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds as they controlled the paint and dominated the glass.

“Rebounding is a fine example of how you can dictate possessions,” Martindale said. “We bought into that and did a great job on the glass along with the loose balls.”

Bledsoe also drew the praise of her coach for her spectacular defensive effort on one of the state’s top point guards in South senior Kayla Burton. Bledsoe helped keep Burton in check on the evening, as the Lehigh commit scored nine points to go along with four blocked shots and three steals.

“Maddie Bledsoe played against Kayla Burton, who is a phenomenal player and I just love her game” Martindale said. “She just shut her down tonight and it was all her defense.”

South was led by freshman guard Emily Chang, who scored eight of her team high 10 points in the first half. South also received a strong effort from guard Jessa Rubera, who added seven points and three steals.

North also received a strong defensive game from senior point guard Madison Beatrice, who also added three points, five rebounds and five assists in the win.

Impressive junior: North junior wing forward Infiniti Thomas-Waheed showed an impressive all-around game, as she scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter to help put the game away.

Thomas-Waheed started slow but came on in the second half as she did not force her offense and instead focused he efforts on the defensive end of the court.

She finished the game with nine points, six rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals and showed off her quick release and range by nailing a deep 3-pointer.

Thursday’s opening game results: Both teams came away with victories on Thursday in their first games of the 2012 Newton Holiday Girls Basketball Classic.

Burton was unstoppable for South on Thursday in a 77-51 win over Portsmouth (R.I.). The senior scored 27 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead the Lions to victory.

North defeated Bedford of the Dual County League Small, 63-33, in Thursday’s other match-up.