WORCESTER, Mass. -– Jen Narlee wrestled to rebound her own shot between two defenders then tossed up a second effort. Rebounding another miss, the senior eyed junior Alison Mikleszko in the lane and flipped her a pass to set up a point from the foul line and Medfield's largest lead of the night.
The Warriors 38-21 advantage at 5:37 in the third was the finisher of a crucial 13-point run that epitomized their ability all season to hack away at teams in the paint. Initializing all 13 points in the streak from within the paint, Medfield girls' basketball (25-3) cruised to a 54-36 victory over Nashoba Regional (22-3) to win its first Division 2 championship at the DCU Center yesterday afternoon.
“We run a five-on-five defensive drill where we give the offense points if they can pass it into the paint,” said Medfield coach Mark Nickerson. “Our interior passing has been outstanding all season. Those practices where we are really focused on defense really helped our passing as well.”
Junior Lauren Petit nailed a top-of-arc trey to help Medfield pull ahead for good up 5-4 at 5:37 in the first quarter. The Warriors
started a 13-0 run ahead 25-21 with 55 seconds left in the second quarter off a putback by sophomore Payton Ouimette.
Three minutes later Mileszko hit what was a fourth straight point from the foul line for Medfield to grab a 17 point advantage. The
Warriors netted 12 of 20 from the line.
“The last few games we have been pounding it inside in the paint and trying to get to the line,” said Nickerson. “Trying to get their 'bigs' in foul trouble.”
“If I can not get anything off the dribble then I usually look outside,” added Narlee.
Petit lead the Warriors with 18 points and four three-pointers. Ouimette tallied 11 points and nine rebounds, while Narlee netted 10 points and grappled eight rebounds.
“In past games (teams) had been pressuring us up high,” said Petit. “My mentality was to attack and once they slipped off to shot.”
Stopping The Size: Nashoba held the Warriors scoreless for 6:21 between the third and fourth quarter, but was only able to muster six points. Medfield used its usual 1-2-2 half-court trap in the first half, but adjusted to a man-to-man front in the second.
Sophomore Erin Cressman forced an old-fashion three to start the run with four minutes left in the third quarter, while junior Emmalie Keenan spun off a high pick then hit the lane to force a pair of points off free throws and a 38-27 deficit with 7:49 left.
“Our main concern was their size,” said Nashoba coach Beth McNamara. “We have been up against size before, but not at every position. We just had to work hard and use our speed.”
Keenan and Cressman lead Nashoba with 12 points.
Holding Ground: Petit twice nailed a three-pointer in the final quarter to push the Warriors back ahead by 15. The junior followed up her second trey with a layup off a pick by junior Katherine Thomas and a bounce pass assist to junior Kristin Fechtelkotter to help her team finish with its largest lead 54-36 with 1:08 left.
“He kept reminding us pretty much every game (that) you have to work on this,” said Narlee. “We knew it does not matter if you have a perfect record. It is about improving every single game.”