Boston High School: Shannon Hayes
LAWRENCE, Mass. -– In a Merrimack Valley Conference showdown featuring two of the premier teams in the state, you knew it would come down to the end, and possibly the last possession.
That is exactly what happened as No. 6 Billerica (8-1) was able to sneak away with a win over No. 9 Central Catholic (7-2), 57-55 on the Raiders’ home court.
Central Catholic trailed 56-55 with 13.2 seconds remaining and the ball at half court. The Raiders got the ball to their leader, senior Casey McLaughlin, on the right block. But Indians center Joslyn King was up for the challenge, blocking McLaughlin’s shot attempt, giving her team a hard-earned win.
“I didn’t want to foul her, but I knew I needed to do something. So I figured I just needed to try and get a hand on the ball,” said King, one of the Indians’ five seniors.
King’s block was almost as dramatic as the possession prior down the other end of the court. Billerica had the ball under their own hoop trailing 55-54 with 17.2 seconds to play.
Although the play didn’t go as planned, the ball ended up in junior Shannon Hayes’ hands under the basket, and her lay-in gave the Indians their first lead of the game since early in the first quarter.
“The play was designed to go to (Brittany) Lamanno on the outside for a jump shot or if she could, get to the basket," Billerica coach Chris Doneski said. "Our second option was a dump down to our center Joslyn (King), but I’ll take it anyway we can get it.”
Billerica’s last lead before the basket was just over four minutes into the game at 6-4. The Indians battled back all game long, cutting the lead to one three times during the final quarter until Hayes’ hoop in the final seconds gave them the lead for good with Lonanno adding a free throw in the final seconds to seal the win.
“I thought they showed a lot of resiliently as we were down virtually the whole game,” Doneski said. “They kept fighting until we clawed it out there at the end.”
Despite being down virtually the entire game, King had an inkling her team would somehow pull out a win.
“In the back of my mind I thought we were going to win, but there was always a little doubt,” she said. “We played hard and came out with a win. That’s all that counts.”
The Raiders led 17-11 after the opening quarter, 33-25 at halftime and 43-40 entering the fourth, but finally poor rebounding caught up to them and too many second chance points allowed the Indians to climb back into the game.
“The bottom line is we gave up way too many second chances tonight,” said Central Catholic coach Sue Downer. “The boards absolutely killed us. You can’t do that. Those were some crucial points we gave up in the game. Those can’t happen.”
It was a balanced attack for the Indians as seven players recorded points. Leading the way was senior forward Danielle Nickerson, who finished with 15 points, followed by Hayes who had 13.
The matchup was a rematch of last year’s first round of the MIAA tournament where Central beat the Indians 63-57. Billerica wasn’t necessarily looking for revenge, as they just wanted to get a win.
“It’s great for us, I mean we had a great season last year,” Doneski said. “We weren’t thinking about payback, we were just thinking of going out there and getting a win against a good team. We’re tied for first place right now, so we knew how important it was to steal one on their home court.”
Downer and Central Catholic knew coming in it was going to be a hard fought battle.
“A lot of these girls play together and know each other so we knew it was going to be a battle,” she said. “It’s two good teams fighting. I’d like to think we’d play multiple times and my team would win multiple times, but it’s going to be a battle every time we play them. There were some things down the stretch we didn’t do well. We have to do better to learn how to win these games.”
Judging by how well both teams played Friday night, one shouldn’t rule out a similar outcome next time around.
MCLAUGHLIN LEADS CENTRAL
Senior captain Casey McLaughlin had a tremendous game for the Raiders despite the loss. She finished with a game-high 23 points, 10 coming in the final stanza. McLaughlin recorded all but nine of Central’s points in the second half.
“She’s very determined this season to do everything she can to win,” Downer said. “She is extremely upset in the locker room and she has every right to be. She is very emotional, and I cannot say enough how hard she works and the leadership she gives us every game. She wants to win so bad and we have to learn from these and figure out what we can do better.”
Junior guard Caitlin Dell’Ordano contributed 11 points (all in the first half) in the loss.
Although Joslyn King only finished with eight points, she battled all game long, going toe-to-toe with McLaughlin. She even took an elbow to the mouth early in the fourth quarter, forcing her to the bench until the bleeding stopped.
She didn’t sit for long as she was right back in the game, eventually blocking McLaughlin’s last second shot, sending her team home with a win.
"It was hard (going back in), but I knew my teammates needed me so I had to be in there,” she said.
This is King’s fourth year on varsity and her toughness is something her and the coaches have been working on since her freshman season.
“She started out on varsity as a freshman and the biggest thing for her is we tried to install a little more toughness in her and she really showed that tonight,” Doneski said. “She played really hard and got banged up pretty good there at the end, but she really helped us down the stretch.”
“We have been trying to stress our defense because we have not been playing that well offensively,” Billerica head coach Chris Doneski said after the game. “I thought we did a great job coming out and defending in the first half.”
Billerica (6-1) jumped out to an early 11-1 lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Indians’ full court defensive pressure and half-court traps caused numerous turnovers and created frustration for the North Andover offense early in the contest.
North Andover (6-1) and Lumb came out of the half with renewed energy and an extended full court defense of their own. Lumb was amazing in the third quarter as she scored 10 points, nabbed three steals and dished out two assists as North Andover came all the way back to earn their first lead of the game, 40-38, with 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“You do the best you can with players like her (Lumb),” Doneski said. “We just tried to slow her down and even if you jump out on her she just does such a great job getting to the basket. She makes moves that you see a lot of guys making in game.”
Lomanno and guard Katie McGinnis would answer back with big shots to conclude the third quarter to give Billerica the 43-40 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
The fourth quarter would belong to Billerica as they executed crucial possessions, crashed the offensive glass and outscored North Andover 24-15 in the quarter to pull away with the win.
Billerica was led by Lomanno, who did a great job of controlling the game and also came up with big shots when Billerica needed them. The UMass Lowell-bound point guard scored nine of her game team-high 15 points in the second half to go along with four steals and two assists.
The University of Hartford-bound Lumb led North Andover with 19 points on the night. Senior guard Pam Coufos (10 points) and sophomore guard Leah Chittick (12 points) also played well for North Andover
Nickerson steps up: Nickerson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Billerica. The senior forward was relentless on the offensive glass in the second half, pulling down four offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter alone.
“That’s her M.O.,” Doneski said. “She does not get a lot of credit but the last two years she has been a double-double for us every time she shows up. She was really aggressive and tough down the stretch and I really thought that pushed us over the edge.”
Balanced effort: Billerica received strong contributions from all nine players who logged minutes. Seniors Kayla Leverone (eight points, six rebounds), Joslyn King (five points, six rebounds) and junior Alexa Napoli (six points, five rebounds) all did a great job controlling the glass for the Indians on the night.
Juniors Shannon Hayes (eight points), Lilly Coppinger (four points) and sophomore Caroline Gillis (four points, three assists) also played well for Billerica on the night.
Bouncing back: Billerica bounced back on Friday after suffering their first loss of the season to Pentucket on Wednesday night, 59-39.
“Pentucket and John McNamara have a very good team,” Doneski said. “They play defense at another level. We hung in and just ran out of gas down the end. Tonight we tried to turn the tables and apply our defensive pressure to them and it worked for the most part.”
Billerica’s tough early season schedule continues next week as they take on Westford Academy and Methuen at home on Thursday and Friday night respectively.
North Andover hosts Chelmsford on Tuesday night and travels to Lowell on Friday night.
ANDOVER, Mass. --- The Andover Lady Warriors (13-0) remained undefeated on the season despite a valiant effort from a feisty, upset-minded Billerica squad on Thursday night.
Billerica (11-2) had possession of the ball with 4.4 seconds remaining on the clock, trailing 53-50, but a 3-point attempt fell short and a put back by junior center Joslyn King (14 points, 14 rebounds) was not enough as Andover escaped with a 53-52 victory and sole possession of first place in the Merrimack Valley Division 1 Conference.
Both teams battled back and forth in a game of runs that saw Billerica explode out of the gate to take a quick lead only to see Andover come back to tie the game at 15-15 after one quarter of play. Reigning ESPN Boston Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau scored nine of her game high 23 points for Andover in the opening quarter including two of her six 3-pointers on the evening.
Andover would build a 12 point lead midway through the second quarter but Billerica hung tough behind the strong play of King and junior point guard Brittany Lomanno. Boudreau and junior guard Devon Caveney each stroked two 3-pointers in the quarter to help propel Andover to a 33-28 lead at the half.
The Indians came out of the break and dominated the third quarter as their size and work on the glass disrupted Andover as King and junior forward Danielle Nickerson owned the boards and gave Billerica a hard-fought 41-40 lead after three quarters
“In the third quarter we did a great job of recognizing what they were in,” said Billerica head coach Mike McCarthy. “We had pretty good legs and were able to get the ball up the floor.”
Andover’s various full-court defenses, which disrupted Billerica at times on the evening, finally came through in the end as the Lady Warriors led by seven with 2:38 remaining in the game.
Billerica, as they did all night, would not give in as they took it all the way to buzzer but timely Andover shooting and disruptive pressure defense were too much for Billerica to overcome.
“We do not want to lose,” said Boudreau. “We are the type of ball club that is not going to accept losing so in the fourth quarter, when it is close like that, we like to buckle down on the defensive end.”
Fazio steps up down stretch: Senior Co-captain Ally Fazio's two fourth quarter 3-pointers turned the momentum back Andover’s way each time and helped settle the pace for the Lady Warriors. Fazio struggled from the field throughout the night but hit the two big 3-pointers when it mattered most to go along with her game high six assists.
“Ally hit some big shots at the end and we came out with the close win,” said Boudreau of her fellow Co-captain.
Young veterans lead Billerica: Billerica is led by a talented group of juniors in Lomanno (eight points), King, Nickerson (10 points) and Kayla Leverone (11 points) along with sophomore Shannon Hayes (eight points). Forward Erin Brooks was the team’s lone rotational senior to see time on the evening but Chris Doneski’s squad has been playing together for a couple of years now and their chemistry is evident.
“They are heck of a team,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “They are very good, well coached and give credit to them.”
After going 12-9 last season and losing to Acton-Boxborough in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament Billerica is off to an impressive 11-2 start of the 2011-2012 season.
“I am very proud of the way they played,” said Doneski. “They played their hearts out so you could not ask for more.”
Valentine’s Day Rematch: These two teams will see each other again in a few weeks as Andover will travel to Billerica on February 14 at 7 p.m. in a rematch that could be for the MVC Division 1 championship.
Both Andover and Billerica still have rematch dates with Central Catholic remaining on their schedules but both teams look to be the top of the MVC class and the Valentine’s Day rematch should be another competitive battle.
“This will be a war when we play them at Billerica,” said Tildsley. “That is for sure.”