WORCESTER, Mass. -- Three years ago, Duxbury and Medfield met at UMass-Boston in the Div. 2 South final. That day it was the Warriors that came in as the experienced team and edged out Duxbury on their way to the program’s first state championship.
On Saturday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester, Duxbury enacted revenge in a 51-42 victory to claim the Div. 2 state title (the Dragons’ first state title since 1998) and complete a perfect 26-0 season.
“We lost to them three years ago at UMass-Boston and these kids were sophomores. They didn’t forget that game,” said Duxbury coach Bob Sullivan, who was an assistant on the state title-winning team in 1998.
Senior guard Jacqueline Sullivan added, “It feels so good; it’s crazy. It was kind of get there and win it and we did.”
The Duxbury starting five played every minute and scored all 51 points in the final. Those starters (seniors Maddie Foote, Catherine Harrison, Molly Quilty, and Sullivan and junior Emma Gill) are now 50-1 over the last two seasons, won back-to-back South titles, and now a state championship.
With Harrison at 6-foot-1 and Quilty at 6-foot-4, Medfield coach Mark Nickerson knew that it was going to be a challenge to limit the touches in the post. The Warriors were mostly successful in the first half with the two forwards combining for only five points in the opening two quarters, but Foote (11 point, eight assists) and Sullivan (13 points) combined for five three-pointers.
“We lost the guards a couple of times for threes,” said Nickerson, “but when you focus as much as we were on the paint then that’s going to happen.”
He joked, “I was kind of hoping they didn’t shoot as well as they did. That was also part of my game plan.”
“They came out in a 3-2 zone and the shots were there,” said Bob Sullivan. “We do have an inside-outside game and we took what the defense would give us.”
Jaueline Sullivan’s contribution was unexpected with her coach noting that it may have been a career-high for points. She explained, “I know that I can do it, we just have other girls that can do it too, you know?”
Medfield was led by senior forward Payton Ouimette, who scored 11 of her game-high 21 points in the first half. The lone upper classman on the roster, Ouimette was able to get the ball into the paint against Quilty and knocked down a three to pull Medfield within 24-20 at the break.
The Warriors kept it close in the third quarter despite Duxbury starting to get the ball into the post. Harrison scored six points in the third and 12 in the second half on her way to a double-double of 15 points and 18 rebounds, but with 2:20 left in the quarter the lead was just four points and Sullivan picked up her fourth foul.
The senior was left on the floor and as the quarter was winding down, Foote escaped a double team and found her fellow captain in the corner. Sullivan buried the three to make it 35-30 heading to the fourth.
“Jacqs is a very special player,” said Bob Sullivan. “I just told her that in the locker room that’s what Div. 1 athletes do -- they show up in big games.”
Chasing the game in the fourth quarter, Nickerson changed up his defense from zone to man and Duxbury took advantage by getting the ball into Harrison. She scored six of Duxbury’s first 10 points in the fourth.
“Cat was a little tired in the first half and I might have raised my voice once or twice at halftime and challenged her a little bit,” said Sullivan, “and she responded like she always does.”
Nickerson said, “You enter it to her and our only hope is to foul her and hope she doesn’t get a shot off because if she misses then she’s getting the rebound.”
Medfield battled to the end with sophomore Lauren Casieri (nine point, six rebounds) providing a spark and Allison Petit hitting a three for her only points of the game, but Ouimette was held to just three points (on three free throws) in the fourth.
“It feels so good,” said Jacqueline Sullivan. “It was our last quarter and we knew that we had to just finish the game and Cat and Molly did a good job of talking and switching.”
When the clock wound down to zero, the five starters embraced at center court surrounded by their teammates -- mission accomplished.