Whittier Wildcats Girls Basketball '10-'11

Tue, Mar 08, 2011 07:00 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Playoff Game
Whittier 0 14 12 23 49
Fenway 23 16 10 16 65

Fenway ousts slow-starting Whittier

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Tuesday, March, 08 By Chuck Frye
Staff writer

BILLERICA — There’s some things a team just can’t prepare for.

Knowing he had a talented roster this season, one that harkened back to the program’s glory days five years ago, Whittier head coach and athletic director Kevin Bradley put together a challenging non-league slate of games.

Playing a quarter of its schedule against Division 1 talent including Central Catholic, the Division 4 Wildcats more than held their own with a 4-2 mark on route to a 14-6 season and a sixth seed in the tournament.

But in the first quarter against No. 2 Fenway last night, all of that preparation against quality opponents seemed to fly out of the window. Whittier looked out of sorts and the pressure compounded with every missed shot. Shut out until the opening seconds of the second quarter, the ‘Cats fell into a hole that, even with a monster second-half effort, they couldn’t crawl out of.

With a 65-49 victory, Fenway (now 19-3) moves onto the Division 4 North final Saturday at Lowell’s Tsongas Center against tonight’s Shawsheen/New Mission winner.

Despite holding a height advantage in just about every matchup on the floor, Whittier didn’t challenge the Panthers’ 2-3 zone. Choosing to run up undefended 3-pointers, the Wildcats were 0 for 8 from behind the arc and 0 for 17 for the quarter.

Sophomore Kaila Duarte seized on the misses (11 rebounds in the first quarter, 27 for the game), and Fenway was off and running. Aggressive, balanced scoring from Chandlor Lyles (two 3s), Cleusa Sequeira and Regina Crawford (five points each) gave the Panthers a 23-point lead at the break and a 28-point bulge (33-5) midway through the second quarter.

“Never in my life have I seen a game where we didn’t score any points in the first quarter,” Bradley said. “They all had good looks in the first half, but to hear the noise of that rim — that clank ... we just came out too nervous at the beginning, and when things didn’t go well we got more nervous.

“At halftime, we asked them, ‘What do you have to be nervous about now?’ Just pretend you’re in your backyard playing and let it go.”

It was a long, hard climb, though, one that didn’t show progress until the final eight minutes despite the efforts of junior Catherine Roche, who had 10 of her team-high 17 points in the third quarter.

After Duarte (17 points) drained a 3 with seven minutes left in the game for a 52-26 lead, senior Danielle Martin dished off three assists, two for lay-ups to classmate Jessica Goulet (13 points), and scored three points herself as part of a 14-3 run to cut the gap to 15.

And when Christina Medley found Jennifer Hinds (eight points) for a lay-up, capping a 9-4 run, Whittier was within 10.

But there was just 54 seconds left. Fenway went 6 of 8 from the line while Whittier’s desperation 3s missed the mark.

“Did it surprise me we were able to come back? Not at all,” Bradley concluded. “I know the character of the girls on this team. Even as down as we were, they were saying, ‘We’re going to the Tsongas.’”

Game Statistics:

Division 4 North semifinals

Whittier (49): Catherine Roche 6 2-2 17, Jessica Goulet 4 5-6 13, Jennifer Hinds 4 0-0 8, Christina Medley 1 2-3 4, Kendra Brasil 1 1-2 3, Danielle Martin 1 1-2 3, Kaisha Rodriguez 0 1-2 1. Totals 17 12-17 49

Fenway (65): Kaila Duarte 6 4-10 17, Kayla Cox 4 3-6 11, Tejanay Veiga-Lee 2 6-7 10, Cleusa Sequeira 3 0-0 8, Chandlor Lyles 2 2-2 8, Regina Crawford 3 1-2 7, Cadejia Matthews 1 2-4 4, Chanise Buggs 0 0-0 0, Miesha McLean 0 0-0 0, Charlise Jones 0 0-0 0, Mariana Avila 0 0-0 0, Shante Golding 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 18-31 65

3-pointers: W — Roche 3; F —Sequeira 2, Lyles 2, Duarte

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