Boston High School: Jim Bancroft

D3 Girls' Final: Archies 69, Hoosac Valley 43

March, 14, 2015
Mar 14

WORCESTER, Mass. – For Archbishop Williams, it was all cruise and all control.

The Bishops led wire to wire to roll by Hoosac Valley, 69-43, to win their second Division 3 state title in three years.

After a tight first quarter that saw Archbishop Williams take a 15-13 lead, the Bishops turned on the afterburners in the middle 16 minutes. Archies outscored Hoosac 42-22 over the middle two quarters to open up a 22-point lead going into the fourth.

Archies took over the game thanks to a cruel domination of the paint. The Bishops outrebounded Hoosac 69-23 and scored 42 of their 69 points on the inside.

Alana Gilmer led the Bishops with a double-double of 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

“That's the key to our game,” Archbishop Williams coach Jim Bancroft said. “As long we get rebounds that starts our offense; we can push the ball up the court.”

Archies opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run and kept the pedal down. Gilmer and Jaylen Williams clogged the lanes and made life difficult on both ends for the Hurricanes. Hoosac was forced to shoot from the outside and went 6-for-26 from beyond the arc.

Williams had 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We switched to zone,” Williams said. “I stayed in the middle. We decided that we were all going to have an extended zone so everybody was out, and I was left in the middle. Our talking really got everything going, and we started playing better defense than we did in the first quarter.”

The Bishops had two 10-0 runs in the middle quarters, and they finished the third on an 11-2 run over the final 5:09 of the period.

When Hoosac doubled down defensively on Gilmer and Williams Katryna Veasey was there. Veasey had 11 points and a pair of blocks.

“I actually didn't want to start her today, but I did because she's [usually] so much energy off the bench,” Bancroft said of Veasey. “[I] love having her come off the bench. She's my John Havlicek. She always gives us a great game.”

Hoosac rode the shoulders of sophomore guard Fallon Field. Field scored a game-high 19 points with 10 of those points coming off of turnovers. Field hit four of Hoosac's six threes.

Emily Rosse scored seven points for the Hurricanes, but no other Hoosac player had more than three.

“Fallon played a great game,” Hoosac Valley coach Ronald Wojcik said. “She's going to be one of our key players the next few years. She's going to be one of our leaders.

“Where I thought it got away from us was in the second quarter we were forcing shots, they started getting out and running, and you're down 14 at half. Now you've got to try something to get back into it, and once we started to try to press a little bit in the second half they went right by us.”

EXPERIENCE PAYS: Two years ago, as sophomores, Williams and Gilmer played key roles in Archies bringing home its last state title. That experience paid dividends today.

“It's awesome because I know that there will always be ups and downs in these types of games because of the crowd and the atmosphere,” Gilmer said. “We just always have to push through.”

For Williams, the winning experience runs in the family. Her older brother, Cam, and cousin, Armani Reeves, won the College Football Playoff national title two months ago playing for Ohio State.

“We're all so happy,” Williams said. “I can't wait to tell my brothers that we just won. They'll probably be so proud of me. I was so proud of them when they won. It's a great feeling to be a Williams.”

BUILDING A LEGACY: When Wojcik came to Hoosac Valley the Hurricanes knew nothing of success. Now, five years later, Hoosac has three sectional titles and a pair of state championship game appearances under their belt and have built a program that reloads.

After coaching boys’ basketball for close to two decades, Wojcik turned to girls basketball for the first time at Hoosac.

“It's been an amazing run,” Wojcik said. “They've brought three sectional titles to Hoosac, which were never there for the girls, two state finals. I was saying today that all of our [youth] travel programs were in the stands today. They're watching this. I think they've built a program now, with their play, that certainly the community is proud of and the younger kids look up to and just can't wait to get there. It's been fun.”

Hoophall: Mater Dei (Calif.) 86, Abp. Williams 37

January, 17, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- With No. 9 Archbishop Williams missing three starters and playing national power Mater Dei Friday at the Hoophall Classic, few expected the local team to come out victorious.

To lose 86-37 as it did, though? That kind of offensive efficiency is why Mater Dei is ranked No. 3 in the latest ESPNW high school basketball power rankings.

“We kept it within 50, but they could have beat us by 100 if they kept their starters in the game,” said Archies coach Jim Bancroft. “We are just shorthanded, missing three starters, and Alan Gilmer is only about 50 percent because she dislocated her thumb.

“We made the schedule early in April and May when everybody was healthy and we thought everybody would be back. We just had some knee injuries over the summer, and surgeries, and was hoping that some of them would be back by now, but it’s just taken a little longer than we thought.”

Mater Dei is lead by the ESPNW No. 2 junior in the country Katie Lou Samuelson. The 6-foot-3 wing had what was considered a quiet first quarter for her, but still ended the half with 21 points while shooting 9-of-15 from the field. She single-handedly outscored Archies in the first half 21-15. She ended the game with 34 points and 5 rebounds.

“Starting off my team did a great job of helping out,” she said. “Andee Velasco (9 points) came out shooting great and Alli Resenblum (14 points) put up points, so I wasn’t too worried about scoring out there because I knew my team was doing great.”

Samuelson is not an easy matchup for most teams, let alone Archies. With her height, she was easily the tallest player on the floor. However, she is a wing player who seems more comfortable shooting from outside than playing in the post. She was 5-of-12 from beyond the three-point line Friday, and never shied away from shooting.

“Once she starts throwing up the threes, she turns it on pretty well,” said Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan. “She’s very gifted. We run a lot of stuff for her, we’re built around her. She gets inside, outside, in transition, in the press. She’ll find ways to score. We don’t worry about her getting points or shots.”

Mater Dei put up 51 points in the first half off creating turnovers and getting out in transition. It outscored Archies 32-2 off turnovers in the first 16 minutes. The Monarchs went to a full court press and made the game difficult on the young Archies backcourt. When it could not move the ball, its guards often dribbled into corners and into traps, which played right into Mater Dei’s hands.

One player Archies was without was Jaylen Wiliams, the junior Penn State commit, who is still recovering from offseason ACL surgery. Even if the team had its full lineup, Bancroft was not confident the result would have been dramatically different.

"I don’t think we got a whole lot out of it,” he said. "You hope when you play better competition you learn something and you help develop your game. They were just too much better than us. They completely shut us down. If we were healthy, maybe it would’ve been different. Maybe it would’ve been a 30-point game, I don’t know. I know even when we’re healthy, we’re nowhere near that kind of talent."

D3 Girls Final: Archbishop Williams 60, Lee 33

March, 17, 2013

WORCESTER, Mass. -- It was a battle of an Eastern Mass. power and a Western Mass. one when the Archbishop Williams girls basketball team squared with Lee High at the DCU Center in Worcester in the Division 3 state championship game on Saturday morning. Lee has won seven state crowns in 14 appearances since 1989, but this morning it was Williams reigning supreme as they dispatched the Wildcats, 60-33, to win their fourth state championship.

“I have no words -– I mean, I’ve played on this team for four years working to win a state championship,” said Bishops captain Sara Ryan. “Leaving as a senior and state champion is unbelievable. I can’t even describe it.”

It was Ryan, a senior headed for Southern New Hampshire next year, who set the Bishops (23-5) in motion toward the crown on Saturday. The 5-foot-8 guard buried a deep three on Williams first possession, after which the Bishops led for the remainder of the contest.

“We’ve had strong leadership in the captain position for a while now,” said Bishops coach Jim Bancroft. “I hate to lose her, but it’s time for her to move on. This past year, she took everything she learned from her first three years and now she’s passing that on to the group.”

Added sophomore Alana Gilmer: “I really can’t even imagine school or basketball without her. She’s been amazing all year. I love her so much. She’s one of the best captains we’ve ever had.”

And just as the Bishops have followed their leader all season, they continued to in the final game of her career on Saturday.
Ryan’s 3-pointer was the beginning of a 13-0 run for AW, in which all five starters netted at least one basket.

“We just spread the ball around,” said junior point guard Leah Spencer. “We know we can’t be selfish. We can’t score without passing the ball and moving around the court.”

They certainly did that against Lee (19-6), with nine different players scoring in the win.

Jaylen Williams and Gilmer, both sophomores, each netted a team-high 14 points. Williams also had 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Gilmer chipped in five rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steal in the win.

Freshman Ednaija Lassiter joined the sophomores in double figures, scoring 11 points –- including nine during a 19-point third quarter for the Bishops.

Ryan finished with six points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals while Spencer added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists for the state champs.

Archbishop Williams used an obvious height advantage to boost its offense by providing plenty of second and third chance looks for the Bishops. They held a 51-24 rebounding advantage in the game, and a whopping 24 of theirs came on the offensive end.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than their rebounding was a staunch defensive attack –- one which allowed less than 40 points in each of the last two games in what has to be considered among the Bishops top performances of the season.

“Defensively, yes it was,” said Archbishop Williams coach Jim Bancroft. “The last two games really –- this one and the game with Pentucket –- we preached defense and rebounds and metal preparedness for these games and I’m very happy with the way the girls performed.”

Only Lee senior Eileen Dooley was able to garner much success on offense, as she scored a game-high 16 points.

Gilmer was tasked with guarding Western Mass. Player of the Year Stephanie Young, who notched 30 points on Monday in Lee’s Central/Western Mass state semifinal game

The sophomore forward wreaked havoc on Young, holding her to just three points on a 1-for-16 shooting day.

“One of our goals was to get in her face, distract her and contest her shots,” said Bancroft. “I saw her during warm-ups and she was knocking down shot after shot after shot.”

Lee coach Gary ‘Gig’ Wellington coached his last game for the Wildcats after six years on the bench, and there wasn’t another group of girls he’d have preferred to finish his career with.

“I’ve had a blast,” Wellington said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team. If you told me I could have switched teams here today, I wouldn’t do it. This is my team. I’ll keep those kids. I’m very proud of those kids. They worked very hard to get here.”

Like Wellington, Bancroft has also coached his final game at the Division 3 level, but for very different reasons. Archbishop Williams is moving Division 1 next year as a means to find a new challenge.

“I don’t even know that it’ll be tougher than what we see now –- we face a lot of good teams in Division 3,” said Bancroft. “Sometimes the best teams are in Division 1, sometimes in Division 2 and sometimes in Division 3, but we’re always trying to challenge ourselves.”

Comcast: No. 2 Archies 45, No. 4 Billerica 39

February, 17, 2013
WELLESLEY, Mass. -– When the schedule was released for the Comcast IAABO Board 27 Classic, the opening game on the docket raised the eyebrows of many who follow Massachusetts high school girl’s basketball.

Catholic Central League champion No. 2 Archbishop Williams and Merrimack Valley Conference Large champion No. 4 Billerica opened Sunday’s tournament at Babson College in front of a packed house.

After 32 minutes of grinding, defensive basketball it was Archbishop Williams (17-4) who came out on top as they outlasted Billerica, 45-39, in the first girls semifinal game.

Archies started and finished the game strong despite Billerica hanging tough throughout. Both teams employed various zone and match-up defenses that helped dictate the pace of the low-scoring affair.

Archies junior guard Leah Spencer scored seven of her game-high 13 points in the opening quarter, as Archies took a 14-7 lead out of the gate.

Billerica (16-2) trailed for most of the game, until the final quarter of play when they battled back to tie it at 36-36. The Indians overcame a clear height advantage to get to loose balls and grind their way back into the contest.

“Some shots started to fall in the second half,” Billerica head coach Chris Doneski said after the game. “We are usually pretty good at being able to score on the interior but their size really took a lot of that away.”

With 4:37 remaining in the game and the game tied at 36-36, Archies ran off seven straight points in less than two minutes to give them the momentum and cushion to hold on for the win.

Archbishop Williams converted 10-of-13 free throws in the final quarter of play to hold off any final comeback attempt.

Playing their third game in four days, Archbishop Williams battled through some fatigue to get the necessary defensive stops down the stretch.

“This is our third game in four days against three good teams,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said. “We will take the win and hopefully be ready to go for tomorrow.”

Archies sophomore forward Alana Gilmer scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals in the win. Junior forward Olivia Conrad (10 points) and sophomore center Jaylen Williams (10 rebounds, four blocks) were also key factors in the paint for Archies.

Billerica was led by senior center Joslyn King (10 points, 13 rebounds). King played her best basketball in Billerica’s fourth quarter comeback run. Senior guard Brittany Lomanno and senior forward Danielle Nickerson both had eight points for the Indians.

Clutch Senior: Archie’s senior guard Sara Ryan was big down the stretch with two steals and five points -- including a pivotal and-one conversion, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.

The Southern New Hampshire University-bound Ryan scored 10 points to go with four steals on the afternoon.

“She has been on Varsity for four years so she understands what we are trying to,” Bancroft added. “She steps in and talks to the team at the half and at timeouts and gives the team positive feedback. She has turned out to be a really good leader.”

Monday’s match-ups: No. 2 Archbishop Williams will take on No. 1 Reading in Monday’s final. The two top teams in ESPN Boston’s latest girls poll will tip at 2:30 p.m. at Babson.

Reading defeated Natick 64-40 n the second semi-final game. Richmond-bound forward Olivia Healy (30 points) and junior guard Bridget Clements (14 points, all in the first half) led the way for the Rockets.

The consolation game between Billerica and Natick starts the final day of action at 1 p.m.

Recap: No. 3 Archies 59. No. 4 St. Mary's (Lynn) 40

January, 13, 2013
BOSTON -– Archbishop Williams moved into sole possession of first place in the Catholic Central Large as they defeated league rival St. Mary’s of Lynn 59-40 at Emmanuel College on Saturday night.

Defense and rebounding proved to be the key factors in the second half as the Bishops attacked the offensive glass and used a menacing full-court press to extend the lead in the latter part of the game.

“Our offense is not really clicking as well as it should,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said after the game. “We are relying on getting some easy hoops off of steals and off of our pressure.”

Leading 28-20 at the half, Archies (6-3) used their full-court press to give St. Mary’s (8-1) trouble and force multiple turnovers. The Bishops outscored St. Mary’s 17-6 in the third to take a commanding 45-26 to the final quarter of play.

The 1-2-1-1 full-court press has become a major asset for the Bishops, who use the pressure defense to their advantage in their confined home-court gym in Braintree.

“It works good in our gym, and in the Catholic Central League a lot of the gyms are real small, so our zone press works really well,” Bancroft said. “Coming in here I was not t sure. We tried it in New Jersey on a couple of bigger courts and struggled with it, but we worked on it in practice and I thought they did a good job.”

The Bishops also controlled the paint and the glass as sophomore forward Alana Gilmer (15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), junior forward Olivia Conrad (nine points) and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Jaylen Williams (four points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made it difficult for St. Mary’s to earn anything close to the basket.

“We are taller than most teams so we are starting to get used it,” Gilmer said. “We have really worked on getting a body on our player and then go for the ball.”

The Bishops also received strong efforts from their starting backcourt of senior shooting guard Sara Ryan (10 points, five assists) and junior point guard Leah Spencer (nine points, four steals).

St. Mary’s was led by junior point guard Sharell Sanders, who scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the opening half. The diminutive guard was even more impressive on the glass as she pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with six steals.
Junior guard Jennie Mucciarone (eight points, four steals) and senior Emily Doyle (seven points) both had strong fourth quarters for St. Mary’s.

Early Season Victories: Despite dropping all three out-of-state contests to Blair Academy (N.J.), Nazareth (N.Y.), and La Salle Academy (R.I.), the Bishops have picked up pivotal early season league wins.

On Tuesday night, Archies defeated Arlington Catholic, 60-41, and are now 5-0 in Catholic Central Large play after tonight’s win.

“All of these early wins are very important for us,” Gilmer added. “We want to be number one in the league and these games help us with our goal.”

Match-up Nightmare: The 6-foot Gilmer proved that she has the complete offensive package as she scored from inside the paint and also from the perimeter. Her versatility and athleticism create a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.

One of the premier players in the Class of 2015, Gilmer showed why she has Division 1 suitors in hot pursuit as her improved game and vast skill sets are unique in Massachusetts’ girls basketball scene.

“Up through her freshman year in high school everyone played her as a post player,” Bancroft added. “Last year we turned her around and faced her up and that is where she is going to end up playing at in college. She has become stronger and her foot speed is better now. Her ability to face-up along with her ability to play with her back to the basket makes her tough to cover.”

Div. 3 Girls: Abp. Williams 46, Coyle-Cassidy 44

March, 6, 2012
(Video courtesy of Eric Esteeves)

BROCKTON, Mass. -- Archbishop Williams' Sara Ryan watched as her layup clanked off the front of the rim, then exhaled when sophomore Leah Spencer swooped in from the backside, and floated in the rebound for a go-ahead score against Coyle-Cassidy with 15 seconds left.

And for those final 15 ticks, Ryan was on pins and needles. For the first time since stepping on the TD Garden floor two years ago for the Division 3 Eastern Mass Championship, she said, "my heart was beating out of my chest."

"Literally," she added. "It was so nerve-wracking. But we kept it together."

The Bishops came out of the ensuing timeout and thwarted Coyle from getting a decent look in either of their two final possessions, stuffing a would-be layup at one end and funneling the ballcarrier into a sideline trap at the other end, with some help from Ryan. The Bishops (20-5) held on for a 46-44 comeback victory over the Warriors before a capacity crowd at Massasoit Community College, avenging last year's Division 3 South final loss and punching their ticket to return trip in the process.

"It's happened before, where we've come back and won," Ryan said. "We never let our heads down. The fans are crazy, we never let them get to us. We do what we have to do."

Ryan (11 points, three steals, two blocks) tied it up at 44-all with three minutes to go, snatching an inbounds pass in the corner deep in Coyle (20-2) territory and dishing to a wide-open Spencer charging the lane.

For the next 2:45, neither team could manage a point, not even a free throw. Instead, the raucous crowds were treated to forced turnover after first turnover, neither team allowing the other much in the way of good approaches to the basket.

Archies head coach Jim Bancroft called a timeout with 1:24 to play. Out of that, Michaela Flanagan swung behind a screen to the top of the key and launched a three-point shot that rolled in and then out.

Coyle's Tricia Quinn was there for the rebound, but down at the other end the Warriors ran into more trouble. Andreya DeSousa lost control of her dribble in front of an Archies defender, but caught a break when a jump ball was called, keeping possession at Coyle's end. But with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, Quinn was forced to heave up an off-balance three-point attempt from the left wing.

Kayla Papazian scooped up the ball at the weakside post and tossed it off to Ryan, who came dribbling up the middle of the court as the Bishops set up for an isolation. Ryan rolled around a screen on the right wing, drove in between two Coyle defenders and tried to kiss the glass with a right-handed layup, only to see it pop off the front iron.

Luckily Spencer (11 points, nine rebounds), who had just cut across to the left elbow on the clearout, was in good position for the put-back from the weak side.

"I was thinking, she might miss it, so I had to be in there for the rebound," Spencer said. "I was in the right place at the right time."

A timeout was immediately called. Out of it, Quinn was stuffed by 6-foot-2 sophomore Olivia Conrad driving down the left side, resulting in a jump ball, Archies possession, and another timeout called by Bancroft. Spencer was fouled when play resumed, but she missed both her shots.

But the Bishops' bothersome press defense was there to seal the deal. After the inbounds, Coyle's ballcarrier was funneled to the sideline by Ryan, and met with a trap. Coyle was unable to get a last-second shot off.

"We thought we'd be able to wear them down, but they just kept coming back and back," Bancroft said of Coyle. "I've got to give them a lot of credit for playing a tough game."

Quinn, a 6-foot-2 senior, finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in her final game for Coyle. DeSousa led the Warriors with 15 points, while 6-foot sophomore Lindsay Bumila had a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds).

Bishops on the Swarm: Bancroft kidded that on most nights, he waits "too long" to apply full-court pressure. But on this night, trailing 12-7 after one quarter and 21-12 midway through the second, time was of the essence.

"I decided, screw it, we've got to go for it," Bancroft said. "We were down by six, I think, and it didn't feel like we were going to get back in the game unless we put some pressure on them with some trapping. I figured that was the only way we were going to get back into it."

With its combination of length and lateral quickness -- and its depth off the bench in both categories -- the Archies press can be suffocating when applied correctly. With Ryan leading the way, backcourt pressure was intense and immediate, with the junior captain usually picking up the ballcarrier immediately after the inbound, staying on her hip and sealing her off to either sideline.

When they went with a 2-2-1 look, a defender or two often converged on a ballhandler deep in their own end.

Down 37-33 to start the fourth quarter, Ryan quickly evened it up with two quick steals for baskets. By the waning minutes of the fourth, Coyle players were pressured so deep in their territory they were dribbling the ball back and forth along their own baseline.

Just how much do these girls work on that lateral quickness?

"Probably for the whole practice," Ryan said, laughing, with a hint of sarcasm. "Just kidding. But no, we do it a lot. We've got to stay in shape. Games like these, it comes in handy, too."

Up Next: The Bishops will be making their sixth straight appearance in the Division 3 South Final when they face off with Fairhaven on Saturday at UMass-Boston. Archies won the South four years in a row, winning back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008, before bowing out to Coyle in last year's final.

Fairhaven cruised to an easy 56-41 win over Martha's Vineyard in the semifinal immediately preceding Archies' battle with Coyle at Massasoit.

Recap: No. 6 Archies 73, No. 22 St. Mary's 51

January, 9, 2012

LYNN, Mass. — Archbishop Williams’ depth, and length in the frontcourt, were too much for St. Mary’s of Lynn, as the Bishops ran away with a 73-51 victory last night at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.

Sara Ryan filled the stat sheet with 19 points, seven steals, seven assists, six rebounds and four blocks. Kayla Papazian dominated the second half on the interior with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Alana Gilmer added 12 points and three blocks to push the Bishops to 8-1 on the season.

The blueprint for the Bishops this season is to hit their opponents with a steady flow of production from the starting five to a solid core off the bench. Ryan and Papazian have been the clear cut go-to players so far this season -- especially in their 104-point outburst against Bishop Feehan –- and with players like Gilmer, Leah Spencer, Michaela Flanagan and Aidan Duquette all ready to come in compete at a similar level, it makes life a little more difficult on opposing coaching staffs.

“The plan is that we keep going at a steady pace,” said Bancroft. “Hopefully, the opponent can’t keep up with us, but you never know.”

The defending Div. 3 state champions were keeping pace with the Bishops in the first half, but the guests started to treat their hosts rather rudely in the third.

The Bishops used stifling press defense, spearheaded by Ryan, to bolt out on a 15-4 run in the period. Olivia Conrad worked well in the post with three straight assists, one to Spencer and the other two to Papazian.

Ryan stole the ball at half court and went in for a lay-in and she put home another lay-up off the glass after another steal. Ryan then nailed a back breaking 3-pointer to push the lead to 19.

“Not most high school girls can go that deep and really not miss a beat,” said Lady Spartans’ head coach Jeff Newhall.

Bishops Rule the Glass: Bancroft has had plenty of guard-oriented teams during his time as Bishops head coach, but this version has plenty of balance up front.

The Bishops have six players who stand 5-foot-9 or taller, and on this night they owned the glass with a 42-21 advantage. Papazian was best in the second half on the glass with nine of her 10 rebounds. She deposited those offensive boards into easy lay-ins to keep the Lady Spartans from sniffing a comeback of any sorts.

More Time for Jaylen: Jaylen Williams, the Bishops 6-foot-3-inch freshman, is still working her way back into form after tweaking her ankle in the first game, and the youngster got some valuable minutes during the first half.

Williams had her moments as an inside presence as she blocked two shots and forced some awkward looking attempts by the Lady Spartans. She did also show that she is still a freshman and that playing against opponents with more experience and physical strength is something she’ll have to get used to.

“Now she’s participating in practice 100 percent, so now we are working her back into the games,” said Bancroft. “We are trying to get her game going. She’s playing against stronger than her and older than her. We need to get her into the games and hopefully use her a lot more as the season goes along.

Next Player Up for St. Mary's: Things have changed for St. Mary’s after the 3-0 start, and after losing Brianna Rudolph to a broken ankle. The Lady Spartans are 5-4 after the loss and looking to right the ship with a cast of younger, but talented players.

“We were getting into a comfort level with our rotation and then she goes down everything kind of changes,” said Newhall. “There’s still an adjustment period for us. On the flip side, playing in this league against this competition is only going to make us better.”

Sophomore Sharell Sanders showed flashes as an up-and-coming point guard for Newhall. She was fearless going to the hall against the much bigger Bishops’ front-line and she showed ranged with two deep 3-pointers.

Sanders finished with 14 points and four steals before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

“She does play the game as she possibly can,” said Newhall. “She does put tremendous pressure on the ball. She rushes the ball up and her decision making is good most of the times and she’s under a lot of pressure on both ends of the floor.”

Recap: No. 6 Archies 104, No. 8 Feehan 97 (OT)

January, 4, 2012
BRAINTREE, Mass. — If drag-em-out defensive battles are the kind of basketball games that you enjoy watching, then the shootout between Archbishop Williams and Bishop Feehan on Tuesday night was not for you.

The Shamrocks (4-2) nearly came back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, as they had a shot to win it on the line in the final seconds of play in regulation, only to see the host Lady Bishops (7-1) walk away with a 104-97 victory in overtime.

Sara Ryan and Kayla Papazian each scored 24 points to dismiss the Shamrocks for the second time this season.

Late rally nearly finished: The Shamrocks really didn’t have any business being in the game the way the Lady Bishops motored up and down the court at will for most of the night. The Shamrocks struggled to deal with the press by the Lady Knights, but they finally cracked it in the fourth quarter thanks to their outside shooting.

Bishop Feehan scored 41 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and nearly turned a 19-point deficit in the final period of regulation into a victory.

“I’m very proud of our girls effort,” said Shamrocks head coach Mike Deady. “This is a very tough place to play. Our girls never gave up and they fought.”

The Shamrocks fell down 89-80 with less than two minutes on the clock, but they kept firing away. Sierra Schrader swished a 3-pointer, and after a forced turnover, Cara Adams drained a corner deep ball to cut the lead to a single bucket.

“They have the 3-point shooters that can get them right back into the game,” said Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft. “They can pressure the ball and get some steals. It’s what they did.”

Providence-bound guard Lexi Sells, who scored a game-high 28 points, gathered an offensive rebound and connected off the glass to get within 1. After the Lady Bishops missed the front end of the 1-and-1, Schrader was fouled with an opportunity to win the game at the line.

Her first free throw was good, and her second one went off the rim, but it was deflected out of bounds by a Archies player. Marissa Cicchetti’s open look from distance was off the mark to send the game into overtime.

A Closer Emerges: Bancroft put Ryan right in the fire as the point guard of the Lady Bishops during her freshman year, and two years later she is starting to show the talents that she clearly possesses as the leader of this team.

Ryan added eight steals and nine assists to go with her 24 points, and had the ball in crucial moments in the extra session.

“She had her freshman year to learn and sophomore year to learn,” said Bancroft. “She learned by her mistakes and she’s a lot more confident. If anybody is going to have the ball it’s going to be her.”

Ryan scored the first four points of overtime and added six in the period. She continually took the ball to the hole and Papaziani (11 rebounds) was able to get in good rebounding position to clean up around the bucket to push the lead to 97-91.

“They trust me,” said Ryan. “I have confidence in all of them and they have confidence in me. It’s what a team does.”

The Shamrocks would do their best to claw back with a pair of late 3-pointers, but the early rush by Ryan and the offense was enough to hold on to the lead this time in the waning moments of overtime.

Recap: No. 1 Andover 66, No. 7 Archies 52

December, 21, 2011

ANDOVER, Mass. — Apparently all it takes is one shot to wake a sleeping giant, and that sleeping giant was Andover’s Nicole Boudreau.

The senior sharpshooter awoke out of her shooting woes in the first 16 minutes with a corner three-pointer to begin the second half as she torched Archbishop Williams (4-1) for the next eight minutes in one of the better shooting performances of her career.

Boudreau finished with 19 of her game-high 28 points in the third quarter and drained four of her five three pointers in the period during a marvelous stretch over the final 2:30 to help the Golden Warriors (4-0) take out the Bishops, 66-52, at Dunn Gymnasium.

“That was special tonight,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “You saw something special. That roll that she got on was incredible. She’s a big-time player”

On three of her final four 3-pointers she touched nothing but net. On her second deep ball she stepped back and struck from NBA range. Her final trey came just before the buzzer as her barrage of scoring turned a six-point game into a 55-42 game at the half.

That lead was important, because it took the life out of a feisty Bishops’ squad that seemed to have an answer for every Golden Warriors run in the first half.

“We had a little bit of momentum after the third period,” said Boudreau. “They came back a little bit...But luckily we held them off.”

Overall it wasn’t a great shooting night for Boudreau as she finished 9-of-25 from the field for the game, but she was dead on with a 6-of-8 performance in the third quarter. The Boston College-bound Boudreau also finished with 10 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

It’s scary to think that the leader of the two-time defending Division 1 state champions could get even better than what she has been already this season as she works her way back from an preseason ankle injury that limited the markswoman heading into the year.

“I’m still trying to work my way back into some rhythm and trying to get my shot back to where I’m making most of my shots,” said Boudreau. “It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll get there eventually.”

Unsung hero on the glass: Jackie Alois will never fill out the stat sheet in the scoring department on a night-in-night-out basis like her teammates, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a key cog in the Golden Warriors arsenal.

Against a much bigger Bishops front-line, the 5-foot-6 junior grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to help keep possessions alive for the bevy of outside shooters donning the same uniform as she.

Those efforts don’t go unnoticed by her head coach.

“She’s such a competitor,” said Tildsley. “She’s got a nose for the ball and she’s got great hands. It’s a pleasure to watch. People are in awe when they see her doing the things that she does on the court.”

In theory and on paper, the Bishops should have had a huge advantage on the glass with four players on the roster topping out around the 6-foot mark. The Bishops did own a 38-34 edge, but it seemed as if they lost the margin by 10 or 15 the way Alois and the other smaller Golden Warriors players were relentlessly diving after loose rebounds all night.

“We had the size over them and they played a great game,” said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. “We got dominated on the boards, which was pretty upsetting.”

Sticking around: The loss might sting for now, but the Bishops are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season and for many years to come.

Junior Sara Ryan showed a nice shooting touch from outside with a pair of 3-pointers, and she also showed an ability to get to the hoop to go along with a gritty defensive style. Olivia Conrad and Leah Spencer form a nice combination at the forward position and at 6-foot-3l, freshman Jaylen Williams should benefit from more seasoning as the year goes on.

Just ask the coach of the two-time defending champs.

“They got nine deep,” said Tildsley. “When (Bancroft) subs they don’t lose anything. They are young, they are tough and it’s great for us to play them. It’s an excellent basketball team and they are very well-coached.”

Coyle rallies to capture D3 South title

March, 12, 2011
BOSTON -- Missy Perry took a kick-out pass from her Coyle-Cassidy teammate Andreya Desousa, knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing and uppercut the air with both fists as the student section behind her erupted.

Then her Archbishop Williams defender threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Coyle's Tricia Quinn nailed a long two from the top of the key off a dish from Brenna Gonsalves. Two possessions later, Perry took a long outlet pass off DeSousa's board, stopped and pivoted underneath the rim and dished across the lane to Gonsalves for a 65-60 lead.

A few flicks of the wrist, and the momentum in this Division 3 South girls final at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center capsized in a snap. The Warriors trailed Archie's 49-40 headed into the final frame, but with 14 points from the Adelphi-bound Gonsalves and eight big boards from Quinn, they rallied furiously to win going away, 70-63.

"I looked up, and all of a sudden it was a two-point game (trailing 60-58), you don't realize it because you're such in the flow of the game," smiled Coyle head coach Mike O'Brien. "That's just a lot of credit to them. They work hard. What we did, the little things we've talked about all year long -- making free throws, rebounding, boxing out -- the really simple stuff really played out for us. And we had a couple big shots, of course."

Indeed, this was about all the little things adding up. Sure, Gonsalves (32 points, six rebounds, three assists) was her usual all-everything self for the Warriors, going 5-for-7 from the field and 4 of 6 from the line in the final frame to lead the comeback -- "She's tough to stop," said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. But early on, they struggled with the brute strength of Archie's post players, particularly Alex Dean, Kayla Papazian, and 6-foot-1 freshman Olivia Conrad.

Combating the stout lower-body strength of the Bishops' forwards forced an economy of motion out of the 6-foot Quinn, a mentality that ultimately paid off in the final frame with eight boards. She finished with 14 rebounds to go along with 14 points.

"I really just focusing on paying attention to where my feet were on the floor, and making sure I was inside of them," Quinn said.

Gonsalves couldn't be happier for her teammates' mettle in the waning minutes.

"It was a matter of going out there and playing with heart, and just playing as hard as we possibly could," Gonsalves said. "I think everyone stepped up, so that's what got us the win. Everyone played with heart, everyone played their role perfectly."

The Warriors led by as much as 12 before the Bishops finished out the half on a 12-3 run to trail, 34-30. They continued the momentum in the third quarter, opening with a 12-0 run, to lead 49-40 headed into the final frame.

But the good fortune turned costly late in the third quarter, when Papazian drew blood from the top of her head after taking a foul off the rebound. The senior captain was relegated to the bench the rest of the game, barking out words of encouragement to her teammates.

"It was big for us," Bancroft said of losing Papazian who had eight boards. "She's our leader on the court, leader off the court, and she gives the kids encouragement. She gives them focus. She communicates. So that hurt us a lot."

Sophomore Sara Ryan led the Bishops with 18 points, while Conrad added 12.

No. 10 Spellman clips archrival No. 15 Archie's

January, 15, 2011
BROCKTON, Mass. -- Cardinal Spellman tallied 29 second half points and held Archbishop to 19 points during the final sixteen minutes of regulation, as the Cardinals salvaged the game and earned a 51-39 victory.

“We played our worst game of the year,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said bluntly after his team’s loss. “We’re supposed to dribble, penetrate, dribble, drive, dribble and pass and cut. It was just a lack emotion, a lack intensity, we just didn’t play a very good game.”

“We’re relying on our defense right now, I mean team’s are having a lot of trouble scoring against us,” Spellman head coach Pat Lamb said.

The Cardinals (6-0) won the tip-off and jumped out to a very small marginal lead, but due to numerous amounts of turnovers, travels and fouls that were committed, they allowed the Bishops to score 12 points during the first quarter.

Archbishop Williams (4-2) struggled to score easy jump shots and layups, which forced their offense, primarily guard Sara Ryan, to take multiple three-point shots. Ryan shot the ball roughly 12 times beyond the arc and was only successful at converting two of her shots.

“We’d normally would not want a lot of three pointers (during any game we play),” Bancroft said.

The Bishops also struggled at defending the Cardinals senior center, Alexis Udoji, who finished the evening with 18 points and 5 blocked shots.

“Alexis is who she is, she makes a nit back on both ends of the floor. We can get into something constructively to get her the ball (but) teams got to make a decision to single team her. She’s probably going to score against most (of them). Double (or) triple team her and hopefully get other kids who can make shots and tonight we did,” said Lamb.

“I kind of was not myself at the beginning of the game, I had to like Pat get it into my head and get me kind of going. What he did like I said was pushed my buttons and kind of got me going, so basically what happened,” said Udoji.

Following a back-and-forth first half, the Cardinals came out roaring in the second half, as senior guard Christina Deiorio scored 13 second half points, while Udoji recorded 10 points. The Cardinals defense also ramped up their pressure and forced the Bishops to continue to turn the ball over, which wasn’t something that pleased Bancroft.

“We can’t turn the ball over that much. (We’ve) got to get back to our offense and just more intensity,” said Bancroft.

The Bishops offense attempted a late rally in the fourth quarter, despite trailing by 18 points during the final 2 minutes, but was unsuccessful. Freshman center Olivia Conrad led her squad with 9 points, Sara Ryan finished with 8 points and Christine Chase recorded 7 points.