ARLINGTON, Mass. -– Despite an All-State performance from Cambridge senior Donnaizha Fountain, the Arlington Catholic Lady Cougars held on for a hard fought 46-39 victory.
Arlington Catholic head coach Dave Brady knew that he would have some challenges early in the season, after graduating some key seniors from last year’s squad that went 21-5 and lost in the Division 2 North finals to eventual state champion Reading.
“We lost a couple of really special players from last year’s team along with their leadership,” Brady said. “This is a new chapter at AC and we are going to work to get there with these players.”
Arlington Catholic (3-0) led throughout the entire game and hung on for the win despite Cambridge (1-1) cutting the lead to two points at 32-30 with five minutes remaining in the game.
“I thought we came out and played with the poise and structure that we like to play with tonight,” Brady said. “There were times when we got away from it a little and we still have work to do a the end of game execution.”
The Georgia Tech-bound Fountain scored all nine of her team’s points in the third quarter and 18 of Cambridge’s 20 second-half points in the comeback effort.
Fountain scored a game-high 30 points on the night to go along with 10 rebounds, five steals and an impressive eight blocked shots.
“Our girls did not take many bad shots tonight,” Brady said. “She (Fountain) just had some amazing blocked shots tonight where we would take shots and low and behold there she was.”
Arlington Catholic received their own clutch performance from junior forward Maura Buckley, who led the Lady Cougars on the night with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
“Mo (Buckley) is a five-tool player for us,” Brady said. “She is a well-rounded player who really does so much for us on the court. It is her turn now to step up in the line of great AC players before her. ”
AC also got a well-rounded game from senior captain Allie Whitney. Whitney scored six points, pulled down six rebounds and had three steals in the win.
AC travels to St. Mary’s (Lynn) on Friday night in early season match-up between unbeaten Catholic Central Large powers.
Big Shot: With AC fighting off a spirited Cambridge rally late in the fourth quarter, guard Brittany Kotzuba nailed a clutch corner 3-pointer to extend the lead to 39-32.
Kotzuba took a kick-out pass from sophomore guard Melissa Rogers, who dribbled baseline and found the junior for the key basket.
Rogers also made her share of big plays in the game, including taking two charges in the first minute of the second half to help lift the AC defensive effort.
All-Around Game: As impressive as Fountain was with the ball in her hands she was equally impressive on the defensive end of the court. Her eight blocks and five steals all came at critical times as she helped keep the Falcons in the contest.
Fountain also displayed her elite athleticism in the second half, as she took the ball at the top of the key and ripped her way through the AC defense for consecutive baskets at the rim. Fountain also showed a balanced offensive repertoire as she showcased an improving perimeter game nailing a big second half 3-pointer and two deep buckets to extend the AC defense.
“She just made some fantastic shots tonight,” Brady said. “It did not seem to matter how many people were draped all over her. She is really an unusual player and one of the better ones that I have ever seen in high school.”