BOSTON -- Five-foot four-inch Kayla Cox may not look like Fenway's biggest player, but in the Division 4 championship yesterday the senior proved the most influential Panther on the court.
Leading her team in both rebounds and scoring, the scrappy Cox drove Fenway (19-3) to a 58-49 triumph over Greater New Bedford Voke (21-4) in her final game at the TD Garden yesterday.
“I have a lot of speed and a lot of up's,” said Cox. “I just try to stay focused and box out as much as possible. If I see an open ball on the rim, I am going to try to grab for it as much as possible.”
Cox netted 15 points for the Boston City League North champs, while grappling 10 rebounds. Teammate junior Tajanay Veiga also drained 13 points.
The Panthers trailed 45-39 with 4:05 left, but grabbed the lead back with eight consecutive points from sophomore Cadejia Matthews. Starting with an and-one opportunity, Matthews caught the defense offset for an open trey then stepped across the arc on the next play to nail a jumper for a 48-47 lead at 1:59.
A breakaway layup by freshman Nakira Examond nine seconds later was the Lady Bears' final score. Following a planted corner trey by freshman Lorena Escolero, Veiga helped seal the victory by turning four midcourt steals off the press into her teams final five points.
“(Matthews) will make a big shot when you ignore her,” said Fenway coach John Rice. “We just have to fight for every ball. We play a high level every game.”
Antoine On the Boards: Leading scorer Stephanie Antoine played a major role for GNB early by scoring 14 first half point, but was limited to only two points in the later half.
Moving the senior along the back line, the Lady Bears hit Antoine with aerial passes and allowed the 5'10” senior to shoot over her opponents. After jetting across the backboard for an open tip-in, the senior grabbed a half court steal for points to finish a 10-point run for GNB and put the Lady Bears up 24-20 at 1:45 in the second.
GNB out-rebounded Fenway 8-0 in the second quarter and held a 33-22 advantage overall.
“We have looked inside to Steph all season,” GNB coach Dave Harrison. “Underneath the basket she is really mobile. She keeps the ball up.”
Toss around Ross: The Panthers rushed back into the game by attacking GNB's zone with Jalissa Ross. Positioning the freshman at the top of the free throw line, Fenway used Ross' presence to work players behind the Fenway's zone.
After hitting a jumper from the corner of the foul line, Ross popped a layup attempt back out to teammate senior Chandlor Lyles for a jumper that sent Fenway into the final quarter tied at 37-37.
“She is a face-the-basket, 6-2” freshman,” said Fenway coach John Rice. “They just never wavered. The first practice I knew we had enough to win a championship.”