WELLESLEY, Mass. -- The Wellesley and Walpole High girls basketball programs are used to being the monsters of the Bay State Conference’s Herget Division, neither a stranger to league, Eastern Mass or state titles. A banner hanging under one of the scoreboards at the Raiders’ gym reads simply, “Tradition,” in block lettering.
But this season, the rivalry has swung clearly in Wellesley’s favor, as the Raiders tore through a young, inexperienced Walpole team, 61-26.
Led by Princeton-bound guard Blake Dietrick (14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) and fellow Division I hopeful Tierra Allen (eight points, eight rebounds, four assists), daughter of Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen, the Raiders (6-1) were in control from start to finish, scoring the first 18 points of the game. Wellesley allowed the Rebels to shoot just 15 percent from field in the first half, turned the visitors over 34 times for the game and enjoyed an over 2:1 ratio on the glass.
“We just came out very well and we haven’t been doing that,” said Wellesley coach Kristin Cieri. “We came out really strong right away.”
“They’re a good team, but we can’t turn the ball over 30 times a night,” said Walpole coach Stacey Bilodeau, whose team dropped to 0-5 with the loss. “I’m sure we were pretty close to that again tonight, not running through sets. Once we settled in we were getting some shots, but then those shots weren’t falling.”
It was a balanced effort from Wellesley, as 11 of the 12 players on the roster scored at least one point. Walpole, starting no seniors and relying heavily on contributions from freshmen and sophomores, simply couldn’t handle the Raiders’ overall length and athleticism.
Allen, a senior who transferred in this fall from South Carolina, was indoctrinated into the rivalry by Cieri.
“She did a good job preparing me,” Allen said. “She was just like, ‘This is a hard team and we try and play against them hard every year.’ ... Me coming in I feel like I had to step up.”
The Raiders shared the ball well, as 10 of their 16 field goals in the first half came off assists. Six-foot-2 sophomore center Grace Miller had a solid effort in the paint with nine points and five rebounds.
Cieri noted the balance and versatility her team showed against the Rebels hasn’t been evident early in the season and is still a work in progress.
“We’re trying to develop that versatility; we don’t really have it yet. We’re hoping to have it, but we have a lot of people that need to get better. And after the Needham loss I think it was a big wake-up call to all the people that aren’t named Tierra and Blake to do more.”
With her team having played the iron of the BSC so far, Bilodeau kept the rough start in perspective.
“Everybody has youth at some point. We’re very young and we’re getting better each game. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten a win yet, but we’re getting better each game. So I’, hoping eventually that win will come to give us a little bit more confidence.”