Boston High School: Jill Costello

Recap: No. 6 Duxbury 42, No. 20 N. Attleboro 32

February, 16, 2014
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Defense is definitely the calling card of Duxbury girls’ basketball. On Sunday afternoon at Bridgewater State University’s Tinsley Center, the undefeated Dragons (19-0) showed off their strength on that end of the court by holding Division 2 rival North Attleboro to just 20 points through three quarters in a 42-32 victory in the first round of the Harry Lehmann Memorial Tournament.

When asked about his team’s approach to the game, head coach Bob Sullivan responded, “We’re a grinder. We average about 51 points per game and give up about 27-ish. We play half court man and we grind. A ‘W’ is what we’re looking for.”

Duxbury had a considerable advantage in the paint with 6-foot-1 forward Catherine Harrison (12 points and 13 rebounds) and 6-foot-4 Molly Quilty (10 rebounds), but the Rocketeers were able to limit both of their touches by using a 2-3 zone with Emily Peters fronting Harrison and Ali McHugh on the weak side, preventing passes over the top.

The defensive work of the Rocketeers forced Duxbury to look for scoring from the perimeter and junior captain Maddie Foote stepped up to provide it. She hit a jumper to spark an early 7-2 run that gave the Dragons a 10-5 lead after one quarter. Then she knocked down a three-pointer in the second (Duxbury’s only made shot in the quarter) and added two more three’s in the third, including one from several feet behind the line to close the quarter.

She finished with 17 of the team’s 42 points.

“Maddie is our leader,” said Sullivan. “She plays 32 minutes a night in competitive basketball games -- I never take her off the floor. [She] made some shots, stayed confident, and made her free throws down the stretch, which I think was the difference in the game.”

North Attleborough head coach John DelBonis remarked, “The plan was to get out on [Foote] and make the other kids shoot. She made a couple when we lost her a few times. She might have been the difference in the game.”

Offensively, the Rocketeers were getting decent looks for guards Danielle Perron and Jill Costello, but could not make the perimeter shots that have been such an integral part of the team’s run to a Hockomock League title. Costello had a particularly atypical shooting night -- she missed all 13 of her shots from the field.

Without the ability to consistently go inside to Peters, McHugh, and junior forward Melissa Beaupre, North needed to knock down shots, but the Rocketeers made only one three in the game and that was from freshman Julia Strachan in the third quarter.

“I mean...We’re not going to get a lot of inside looks against them,” admitted DelBonis. “We got some decent looks -- we just didn’t hit any perimeter shots.”

Sullivan credited the effort of his defenders. He said, “We’ve seen them a couple of times and we know how good they are. We know how well they can shoot the ball and one of our keys today was to get out on the shooters.”

Duxbury led 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but struggled to shake off the Rocketeers. Beaupre hit a layup for her only basket of the game and Costello (six points -- all from the free throw line) hit a pair from the line to make it 28-24.

That was when the Dragons started to find ways to get the ball to Harrison on the post.

She took a pass on the left block and dove to the rim for a three-point play. Harrison then caught a pass over the top of the fronting defender for a layup and showed off a drop-step move into the lane to knock down a shot over the top of Peters. She scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth.

Explaining the change in approach that got Harrison some space to work in the fourth, Sullivan said, “That’s a match-up 2-3 zone...a lot of front and back on Catherine. The worst thing we can do at that point is force the ball inside. For that to work, you need dribble penetration from Emma [Gill] and Jackie [Sullivan] on the baseline.”

In the final few minutes, it came down to free throw shooting and Gill (seven points) and Foote combined to go 7-10 from the line to clinch the win and continue the unbeaten season for Duxbury.

Recap: No. 9 KP 2, No. 2 North 0

May, 11, 2013

PLAINVILLE, Mass. – In a game dominated by the two opposing pitchers, it was fitting that one of them would be the player that ultimately decided the outcome.

King Philip senior Anna O’Neill crushed a 1-0 pitch from North Attleborough’s Megan Colleran deep over the fence in straightaway centerfield to give the Warriors a 2-0 walk-off victory on Friday afternoon at the Plainville Athletic League Complex. The win completed a season sweep for KP over North and moves them one step closer to another league title.

“I didn’t want to pitch another inning,” said O’Neill about her mindset in the final at-bat. “When I hit it, I was just thinking, ‘Thank you Anna for ending this game,’ because I really wanted to win.”

After the celebration, first-year KP head coach Norm Beauchemin tried to direct reporters to his star pitcher and, with a big smile on his face, remarked, “She came up with the big hit…the big time. She’s a big-time player.”

Going into the seventh, KP had managed only two hits off of Colleran, who struck out six Warriors. Senior second baseman Tori Constantin, who had hit the ball well for outs in her two previous at-bats, drew a lead-off walk (Colleran’s first of the game). Renee Poirier failed on two sacrifice attempts before lining a two-strike pitch for a base-hit.

Constantin tried to stretch from first to third on the play but was gunned down on a perfect throw by North centerfielder Sam Moody. In the process, Poirier moved into scoring position with one out. Two pitches later, it did not matter, as O’Neill hit her second homerun of the season off of Colleran.

“Meg is a great pitcher. She’s going to UMass [in two years] and to say that I got two good hits against her feels pretty good,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill was also dominant on the mound, despite having to rush from Dean College where she and third baseman Shannon Jones were taking an Advanced Placement exam. The game time was pushed back and North coach Bill Wallace allowed extra time for O’Neill to warm-up after she arrived. It may not have been her usual pre-game routine but she showed no ill effects, striking out the first two hitters on her way to a nine strikeout, three-hit shutout.

Prior to the final inning, each team only managed to get a runner into scoring position twice. Poirier led-off the second with a base-hit and made it to second on a passed ball, but was stranded and in the sixth Jones was bunted to second but Colleran induced a comebacker and a grounder to first to end the inning.

“Megan has really hit her groove now. Those are the first runs that she has given up in regulation in three weeks,” Wallace said.

Beauchemin spoke about his team’s struggle at the plate. He said, “Offensively, everybody struggles against good pitching, plain and simple. Hopefully, we come around and start swinging the bats better against good pitching because we’re taking way too long of a swing.”

North Attleborough had its first base runner in the fourth inning on a lead-off single by Rose Mooney, who was bunted to second but stranded there. Jill Costello, who also had four assists at shortstop, led-off the sixth with a single and made it to third on a wild pitch before O’Neill struck out Marissa Gifford and Colleran to end the inning.

The Rocketeers have had a difficult week since being moved to no. 2 in the ESPN Boston statewide rankings. North lost to Taunton (the Tigers had also beaten KP previously this season), 1-0, in 11 innings on Monday before the walk-off defeat to the Warriors.

Wallace acknowledged that it was a tough loss, but argued, “We’ll be better for it.”

He added, “We’re playing good defense; we just need to get the bats going. Hey, what are you going to do? We’re seeing great pitching, you know.”

Prior to the season, there was some talk that the turnover at King Philip (losing eight seniors and head coach Jim Leonard) could make this the year that North Attleborough overtook the Warriors for the league title. Instead, O’Neill’s hit continued nearly 10 years without a win for the Rocketeers in the series.

“People have been talking that we’re not going to be as good this year as we have in the past, but I think that tonight just proved that we all have it in us and we still have a really good team,” O’Neill said.

Beauchemin said that games like this will be big for the Warriors as they prepare for another run at a state title.

“You don’t have too many cakewalks [in the Hockomock], which is good because it get s you ready for the playoffs,” he explained. “This team here, they’re concerned about the playoffs. They want to go deep, so these games hopefully build our character.”

Recap: No. 12 North Attleborough 1, No. 1 Milford 0 (10 inn.)

April, 30, 2013

MILFORD, Mass. – The gloves flying through the air and the mass celebration at home plate after the final out was made, confirmed what everyone outside the foul lines already knew – this was more than just a standard regular season Hockomock League game.

“That probably, in my career, is the team’s best regular season win. Did that ooze tournament atmosphere or what?” asked an excited North Attleborough head coach Bill Wallace after the final pitch.

North Attleborough (7-2) pushed home one run in the top of the 10th inning, only the second run allowed by Milford (10-1) in 11 games this season, and the Rocketeers threw out runners at the plate twice in extra innings to pull off a 1-0 upset over the defending Division 1 state champions. The Rocketeers’ victory ended the Scarlet Hawks win streak at 35 games going back to 2011.

“It was just a great game,” said Wallace. “That kid [Shannon Smith] is a darn good pitcher over there, but luckily I have a darn good pitcher over here too.”

With the game scoreless heading into extra innings, the International Tiebreak Rule was used, which begins the inning with a runner on second. It was the first time that either team had managed to get a runner past first base.

In the top of the tenth, Colleran dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Marissa Gifford to third. Senior catcher Meghan Wynn then smacked a grounder on a 1-2 pitch that third baseman Caroline Fairbanks knocked down with a diving stop, but Fairbanks was not able to get the throw home in time to prevent Gifford, who was running on contact, from scoring.

“I knew that in order to pull out the win that I had to be smart and make contact,” said Wynn about the last at-bat with the go-ahead run just 60 feet from home. “I know that she’s going to pitch smart and not give me anything to hit. I just have to watch the ball all the way to the bat.”

Milford had the heart of the order coming up in the bottom of the tenth and Smith, Milford’s University of Kentucky-bound senior, drew a walk to put the winning run on base with no outs. Fairbanks followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. On the next pitch, Rachel Levine hit a hard grounder off Colleran’s glove to shortstop Jill Costello, who bobbled the ball but was still able to throw out Sam Bonvino at the plate.

Colleran, who seemed especially fired up for this game, then struck out Taylor LeBrun to close out the victory and set off the celebrations at home plate.

“It feels great; I’m so excited right now,” said Colleran, who struck out eight while allowing only two hits. “They’re a really great team, so I just knew that I had to move the ball around and fool them because I know that every kid on that team can put it over the fence.”

The game had a playoff atmosphere from the first pitch and the Hawks starter was her usual dominant self. Smith, who recorded her 1,000th career strikeout last week, started the game by striking out two batters in three of the first four innings. She finished with 17 for the game and allowed only one hit in the defeat.

After 35 consecutive wins, Milford head coach Brian Macchi was philosophical about the team’s first loss since the 2011 state semifinal against Amherst and its first loss as a Hockomock League team.

“It was two great teams going at it and in my opinion the two best pitchers and it showed. Shannon pitched great, Meg pitched great and it was fun to be a part of,” Macchi said.

He continued, “It’s been a while since we’ve lost a game and come back to work the next day. For me as a coach, you lose to a caliber team like North, we can learn from this and come back tomorrow and go to work. It’s definitely a learning experience for us and we’ll turn this into a positive.”

While Colleran was excellent in the circle, North also made several plays to get out of potential scoring situations. After a single by Smith in the first inning, North first baseman Jackie Del Bonis snared a line drive by Fairbanks to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth Costello picked a hard grounder by Bonvino to prevent the heart of the order from coming up. In the bottom of the eighth, second baseman Gifford made a perfect throw home to prevent the winning run from scoring.

Following North’s shocking loss to Attleboro last Thursday, Wallace was thrilled to see his team bounce back with a total team effort and to pull the biggest upset of the softball season.

“Wins and losses in April aren’t as important as wins and losses in June, but from a team standpoint, I think now they believe, you know what, we’re with the Milfords and the [King Philips],” said Wallace.

“We were all really bummed out,” said Colleran about the team’s attitude after the loss to the Bombardiers. “I think this is huge, especially a game when we think we are underdogs. It could kick start us and boost us through the rest of the season.”

Macchi was thrilled about the playoff atmosphere surrounding the game and noted that Division 1 South is going to be a stacked sectional from top to bottom. He is hoping that this loss will add motivation for the Hawks to keep improving.

“Today was a great test and something that we can build on,” Macchi explained. “I am looking forward to practice tomorrow with these girls and seeing how hungry they are.”