BROCKTON, Mass. -– The Mansfield Hornets overcame a 19-point halftime deficit, as they rallied to beat Newton South, 47-45.
“There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win,” Mansfield junior guard Michaela Bowes said. “We’ve been in this position before [and] we knew we were going to win.”
Newton South (21-2) began the game by jumping out to an early lead thanks to senior guard Kendall Burton, who finished the game with 11 points, but tallied 8 points during the first two quarters. The Lions forced Mansfield (24-1) to shoot their shots off target, limited shots in the paint and turned the ball over constantly, which allowed Burton and her teammates to score easily on the fast break.
However, despite trailing 32-13 at halftime, Mansfield head coach Mike Redding watched his team play their best 16 minutes of basketball all season, as they scored 34 points during the final two quarters.
“At halftime they were less rattled than I was and they still believed they could do it,” Redding said. “I think they all knew we could score. Down 19 to an awful good team, we said we’ve got to play man to man [defense], get up in their faces, get the ball on the floor to their weak hand.”
The Hornets defense smothered the Lions, who successful converted [4-19] shots from the field during the entire second half. Newton South had no answer for Bowes or senior guard Kelli McPherson, as both players combined for six three-pointers through four quarters.
“It wasn’t meant to be today,” said Newton South head coach San Doner. “It’s just that simple, it wasn’t meant to be. Mansfield matched up man to man with us and they made the right adjustments and for some reason we didn’t execute.”
“[We] played with unbelievable determination, [our team] never gave up,” said Redding.
New Bedford 63, Braintree 35
Prior to an exciting dramatic Mansfield victory, both New Bedford and Braintree met on the same court, but the Whalers appeared too much for the Wamps to handle, as they won, 63-35.
“I thought we played an excellent ball game. Defensively we won our game, we shot the ball extremely well,” said New Bedford head coach Mickey Gonsalves. “Coming into the game I was a little worried about our field goal percentage, but we shot the ball very well. Defensively we were tremendous.”
Both seniors, guard Alyssa Roach and forward Arielle Gomes were tremendous for the Whalers (23-0), as both players finished with 11 points each, as well led their defense in forcing turnovers and blocking shots.
“Defensively we’re tough,” Gonsalves said. “We’re very small, so we stretched the full court, base line to base line to take away the big people and it takes a lot of offense away from people and it wares them down.”
Braintree (18-3) appeared lost from the beginning, as New Bedford jumped out to a quick 17-0 run before the Wamps were able to put together a successful offensive series that resulted in points. Yet, Braintree scored 10 points in the second quarter and held New Bedford to just 12 points.
“I think we were playing a very talented New Bedford team that is not only quick and athletic, [but] is skilled, but they’re extremely disciplined,” Braintree head coach Kristen McDonnell said. “They play the best man to man defense I’ve seen. They play very well together as a team and they don’t let down.”
“We got taken out of our game by the New Bedford full court defense right away,” said McDonnell. “We like to play up tempo, but not that up tempo. I don’t think we were able to slow the pace at all.”
Despite pushing the lead to 55-22, New Bedford slowly took their foot off the pedal, which allowed Braintree’s offense to string together some last minute points before the buzzer sounded.
With the win, both Mansfield and New Bedford will face off against one another to decide to the Division I South champion.