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Sunday, February 16, 2014
Comcast: Medfield, Braintree advance to girls final

By John Botelho

WELLESLEY, Mass. -– Once Lauren Petit caught fire for the Medfield girls basketball team in the opening round of the IAABO Board 27/Comcast tournament at Babson College on Sunday, it was clear that Archbishop Williams didn’t know how to douse the flames as she lead the Warriors to a dominant 66-46 win and a spot in Monday’s final against No. 1 Braintree.

Medfield trailed 13-9 after one quarter but the senior point guard erupted for 16 of her game-high 28 points in the second, sending the Warriors into the locker room at halftime with a 29-16 lead.

“It was huge for us because we were struggling to score,” said Medfield coach Mark Nickerson. “We weren’t getting too much going offensively, and she came up and hit a few 3’s early to keep us in the game really when it looked like they might run away quickly. It kind of sparked the team. We were able to settle down and run some things, and were able to find some gaps when they had to come out and cover her.”

Coming out of the break, Medfield continued its surge and by the end of third they had extended their lead to an impressive 53-29 over the recently-hot Bishops.

During the third, Petit tossed one of her six assists to classmate Kristin Fechtelkotter slashing toward the hoop. The senior forward finished in easy fashion, joining Petit with over 1,000 career points.

“Those two girls have spent a good portion of a lot of our games on the bench in the second half, because we’ve been up on teams,” said Nickerson. “Those two girls are really special talents, and I don’t think they always get the credit they deserve because they’re numbers aren’t crazy, off the wall, but they’re putting up those numbers in 17, 18 minutes a game a lot of times.”

Added Petit: “I’m so excited that she got to 1,000. We’ve been teammates forever -– growing up, playing AAU and playing, I was just happy and proud for her to get it.”

Fechtelkotter was the only other Warrior in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Payton Ouimette chipped in eight points and Kate Thomas added six in the win.

While Petit made sure the offense never cooled, the Warriors (20-1) were just as impressive on the defensive end. Only Leah Spencer (10 points) reached double figures. Victoria Dean added nine points, but Williams was never able to mount any significant momentum against Medfield’s defense.

Braintree blocks Westford’s best shot: In the early going of the other first round game, Westford came out firing and looked like they were going to give the No. 1 Wamps a run for their money. Braintree’s significant height advantage became too much though as the Ghosts just couldn’t get comfortable on the offensive end and fell 57-29.

By the end of the game the Wamps had blocked 12 shots, and won the rebounding battle 41-16. Their length inside also clogged up passing lanes all night, leading to an impressive 16 steals in the win.

“With our length, we can of collapse our defense into the middle and that makes us pretty tough at times,” said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. “We say every game that if we win the rebounding battle, we win the game, and so far that’s been true."

The staunch defense held the Ghosts at bay, and the Wamps offense used a balance attack to run away with this one. Three different Braintree players reached double figures, led by Molly Reagan’s game-high 12 points.

The Herilhy sisters, Bridget and Brianna, both added 10 points apiece. Braintree got nine points from point guard Ashley Russell and both Keelah Dixon and Maura Russell chipped in with five points.

Russell also paced rebounding, grabbing a dozen boards while providing a high energy effort that included four assists, three steals and two blocks.

“She’s our leading rebounder coming from the point guard position,” said McDonnell. “Most of those come on the offensive end; she’s just incredible. She’s like the energizer bunny, you pull the string and she just goes and goes. Ashley sets the tone right away for us every single game. Not only does she have the work ethic, but she has a real knack for knowing where the ball is going to fall.”

Westford used a 5-0 run midway through the second to pull within seven, but Braintree erupted for 11 unanswered points in the final three minutes of the quarter to take a 31-15.

They never slowed from there, and by the time the Ghosts scored again –- on a free throw midway through the third, Braintree had made it a 17-0 run. When Westford netted their first field goal of the second half -– with under two minutes to go, the Wamps had opened up a 42-20 lead.

Samantha Hyslip was the most effective weapon for Westford, tallying nine points and grabbing five rebounds for the Ghosts, who will take on Archbishop Williams in the consolation game of the tournament tomorrow afternoon.