Boston High School: Erin Nee
March, 19, 2011
By Bruce Lerch | ESPNBoston.com
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Arlington Catholic's Erin Nee may give Jim Carrey a run for the starring role in any future sequels to "The Mask."
After suffering a fractured nose during the Cougars state semifinal victory over Hopkinton, Nee was forced to don a facemask to protect the injury. Apparently, she got comfortable with it pretty quickly, as the senior opened the second quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers during a 21-0 run that helped Arlington Catholic pull away from Millbury, for what resulted in a 49-28 victory and the Cougars' first Division 2 state championship, at the DCU Center Saturday.
"It was interesting. it was a different feeling but I got used to it after a while," Nee said of wearing the protective mask. "The shots felt really good. I was just open so I shot and they went in. I think we fed off that energy and the crowd going wild. It was awesome. I think it really helped us to go back and have intensity on defense and the offense came from the defense."
Those two shots were huge as AC (21-6) went a paltry 2-for-11 from the field in the opening stanza. Nee got the crowd going and her teammates fed off that energy -- Emma Roberson in particular.
The Cougars' star scored 10 of her game-high 16 points during that spurt, as AC turned a 7-2 deficit into a 23-7 lead. With Nee getting hot, it gave the Woolies (23-2) an additional threat to watch for in addition to normal 3-point gunner Nicole Catizone (11 points).
"Erin definitely got our momentum going," Robersopn said. "We were a little down on ourselves after the first quarter. None of our shots were going in and we weren't playing great. So Erin coming out and hitting those two big threes got us going."
The Cougars got amped up in the defensive zone as well, forcing eight Millbury turnovers in the second that led to a number of transition buckets.
"I thought we came out of the box good but in the second quarter the floodgates opened up," admitted Millbury coach Steve Reno. "We couldn't make a shot and we couldn't get anywhere near the hoop for a rebound. Sometimes we couldn't even get across halfcourt because their pressure was so relentless."
"To make things worse, they started heating up," Reno continued. "They were making threes and they got a couple of turnovers where they were able to convert on runouts. It was the nightmare scenario."
Having found themselves in a similar spot against Hopkinton where AC had to rally from an 18-point hole to win, the Cougars never took their collective foot off the gas pedal, roaring out of halftime with an 11-0 run.
"I think defense comes from the heart," Catizone said. "You really have to keep working at it. We all work extra hard as a team with helping and talking. We knew that if they started getting on a run they could come back easily. We didn’t want that to happen."
And they didn't let it happen. Catizone drained a pair of treys while Nee and Kayla Awizsus also hit from beyond. Defensively, the Cougars held the Woolies to a mere five field goals on 30 attempts and AC took a 44-16 lead into the fourth.
"They’ve come so far as a team," said a proud AC coach Dave Brady of his Cougars. "The basketball language at the beginning of the year, they didn’t even know what a backdoor was. Now, they are out there teaching me things. These girls deserve so much. They’ve really come so far."
March, 14, 2011
By Tom Layman | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Dave Brady was willing to use all five of his timeouts in the first half to try and snap his team out of an early funk in the Div. 2 Eastern Mass. semifinals on Monday night at the TD Garden.
Apparently he only needed three.
Arlington Catholic (20-6) finally got the message and overcame a 16-point first half deficit with a furious run in the second quarter to eliminate Hopkinton, 65-57. The Cougars will now move on to the state finals on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester to play the winner of Millbury and Wahconah.
“The third timeout was them saying this is enough,” Brady said. “There was plenty of time and let’s just go out there and do what we do.”
The Cougars stopped settling for outside jumpers, which didn’t work in the first quarter as they launched seven three’s and only made one of them, and started penetrating the interior of the much bigger frontcourt of the Hillers (19-6).
Emma Roberson led the way with a team-high 25 points, and her ability to get in the lane and dish to open players was a key factor in the run.
“We weren’t attacking their zone, so they weren’t having to move at all to play defense,” said Roberson. “We couldn’t get any shots, so being able to penetrate and open up our shooters on the outside and even get them in foul trouble too definitely changed the game a lot.”
The Cougars went on a 23-4 run after falling behind by 16 points with 6:09 left in the second quarter, and they finally grabbed their first lead, 32-31, on a last-second deep ball from Nicole Catizone before the half.
The offensive flurry was spurred by a change in the defensive system for the Cougars. They went from a zone press to a man-to-man pressure, which probably wasn’t the game plan coming in to the game, because of the height advantage the Hillers held at every position. The Hillers shots a blistering 9-of-11 in the first quarter from the field, but came back down to earth with a 13-for-30 showing in the final three quarters.
The 5-foot-3-inch Erin Nee harassed every single ball-handler who made their way up the court and the Hillers didn’t respond well to that pressure.
“They played really physical and the referees let them play physical,” said Hopkinton head coach Rita Atkinson. “I really think that was the turning point.”
The game of runs turned in to a back-and-forth contest for most of the second half. There were 12 lead changes in the third quarter alone, and two in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.
Two free throws from Alee Leteria (26 points) gave the Hillers a 55-54 lead in the fourth, but the Cougars would used a dominating 11-2 stretch to close out the game. Roberson finished with eight points in the fourth quarter, and hit several clutch free throws to keep the Cougars ahead for good.
“All game I just did my routine and didn’t think anything differently,” said Roberson, who finished 9-of-12 from the line. “I just kind of kept the crowd out of my mind and just treated it like it was any other free throw in any other game.”
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