BOSTON -- Four points.
That was all that Watertown scored in the second half as Duxbury used a suffocating interior defense to turn a four-point halftime deficit into a 49-30 in the Eastern Division 3 girls semifinal.
The Dragons outrebounded Watertown 42-28 and dominated the paint, outscoring the Raiders 38-22 on the inside. Duxbury held Watertown to 27 percent shooting.
“We're 24-0 for a reason,” Duxbury coach Bob Sullivan said. “We gave up 33 points a game in the regular season. We gave them too many dribble-drive opportunities; we tightened that up in the second half. Molly Quilty was sensational taking care of the post with her blocked shots tonight. Catherine's rebounding. The team defense was the difference in the second half.”
The Dragons as senior forward Catherine Harrison went. Harrison had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, both game-highs. Ten of Harrison's points came in the point.
Her frontcourt mate, Molly Quilty, showed why she's one of the state's top defenders with five blocks and eight rebounds.
“Molly and I knew coming in that they had some height,” Harrison said. “We just said to play our game and do our thing.”
In the first half it was Watertown doing its thing. The Raiders were able to slash to the inside and get easy layups as Duxbury got mixed up on defense. Michaela Antonellis had all of her team-high eight points in the first half as Watertown used its speed to dictate tempo.
The Raiders kept the game tight early in the second half. A Shannon Murphy bucket 4:55 into the third tied the game at 28, but Duxbury finished the game on a 21-2 run.
“They were just big in the paint,” Watertown coach Patrick Ferdinand said. “Everything clogged up, and I didn't think we were able to get to where we wanted. Then it became one shot and done, and the lead just grew from there. It really didn't matter our spacing on the floor; they did a good job sagging off post players a little big so we didn't have enough room. We just weren't able to get to spots.”
Maddie Foote had nine points for the Dragons, but seven of those came in the last half of the third quarter as Duxbury began to pull away. A three with 1:50 left in the third opened a four-point lead and got the ball rolling for the Dragons.
“I just knew I needed to get my legs under my shot,” Foote said. “I was a little short in the first half, and I think I was overthinking it. I just got my legs under my shot and got it together.”
BITTER ENDING: Watertown did not lose a game all season until yesterday. For Ferdinand, the ending leaves a sour taste in his mouth but the season was successful regardless of its finish.
“You're thinking about this last game, but it isn't about this last game,” Ferdinand said. “You're thinking about how hard we've worked to get to a certain location. I'm proud of the girls; I'm proud of our character. I think we carried ourselves with class. We played hard through the end. I think that we just talk about legacy. We're a small school. I don't think basketball is our biggest sport, but we're really passionate about what we do. I'm so lucky and blessed to have a great coaching staff, to have kids that are smart and intelligent who are willing to get coached and work as hard as they can. I'm just going to take that in.”
TAKING UP RESIDENCE: Last year, Duxbury made it to the Eastern Mass. Final, but came up short in a 40-27 loss to eventual state champions, Arlington Catholic.
Quilty and Harrison both said that the bright lights and famed Garden parquet got the better of them a year ago. The plus was that returning to the Garden came with a sense of familiarity and ease this time around.
“Coming in last year we were taking pictures, all excited to be in the Garden,” Quilty said. “This year we were ready, we were more focused. Maddie was used to the environment. We didn't play well in the first quarter, but we knew we were winning it. We were in the locker room smiling for some reason during halftime, and we came out in the second half and blew it away.”
“Last year we were shell shocked by the Garden,” Harrison said. “We came out and weren't really used to the surroundings. This year we walked into the gym kind of like it was our own. We knew the plan, we knew where to go, we knew what was going to happen, and I think that really helped a lot.”