HARWICH ─ After a tough start against the D-Y Dolphins last Friday, the Monomoy girls basketball team was able to celebrate their first victory of the season after defeating Cape and Islands League rival Sturgis West 31-21 at home on Monday night.
Senior captain Maddie Leonard was the game's high scorer in the outing with nine points overall and eight rebounds, followed closely by junior Caitlin Daley with six points and 11 rebounds, with freshman Maggie Dever adding another six points. Leah Nash added four to Monomoy's tally, and Erin Starkey three, while Kelsey Olson hit a nice tri in the final frame for the Sharks.
It was a slow first half for both teams with Monomoy netting just six points in the first quarter and four in the second to take a slight 10-6 edge into the break. The third quarter, however, saw a bit of heightened intensity from the Sharks leading up to a big finale that was sparked by a grab-and-go layup from Dever at the close of the third, kicking off a 9-0 scoring run that helped Monomoy clinch the win.
The fourth saw Leonard sink a three-pointer of her own, as well as two perfectly aimed free throws, while Nash added two of her four points in the frame. Perhaps the player with the most intensity in the game's second half was Daley, who scored all of her points across the third and fourth quarters.
While the Navigators narrowed Monomoy's lead a few times, even pulling within one, a stepped-up Shark defense kept the visitors from finding the hoop, while Monomoy found the footing necessary to create scoring chances at the hoop.
“The first win of the season, it's great to have,” said Monomoy head coach Pete Richer. “It makes the girls feel much better after that first loss.”
Richer was referring to Monomoy's tough season opener against D-Y in which the Sharks fell 43-16. In the Dec. 8 outing Daley netted seven points for the Sharks, with five rebounds, and eighth-grader MacKenzie Balfore added six points and four rebounds.
Richer was pleased with the team's Dec. 11 efforts against West, particularly the second half.
“We started making baskets,” he said. “The first half we missed too many easy baskets. We should have had at least 25 to 30 points in the first half.”
Instead of some halftime magic, Richer attributed the team's second half success to solid shots and strong defense.
“Shots just started falling,” he said. “We got more easy baskets in the second half. Our defensive intensity tired them out a little bit. We had a lot of wide open fast breaks, where in the first half we didn't have that, and that helped tremendously because we had open shots rather than contested shots.”
The head coach has acknowledged that this year will be a rebuilding year in the wake of graduating six seniors, but he continues to praise his team's determination, offering a number of shoutouts.
“Shoutout to Maddie Leonard who did nice job and hit a big three-pointer in the second half and really upped her intensity in the second half as far as rebounding, and did a good job leading the girls defensively out there,” Richer said. “Caitlin Daley did a very nice job, as well, and I'm proud to say that at one time we had all three eighth graders out there – MacKenzie Balfore, Madisun Crossen, and Caroline DiGiovanni – and they did a really nice job.”
Richer also gave kudos to Dever for her defensive prowess.
“Maggie was excellent on defense,” Richer said. “Lots of steals. And Kelsey Olson did a nice job running the point.”
The Sharks travel to Rising Tide today (Dec. 14) for a 4:30 game, with their next home game set for tomorrow night, part of a Dec. 15 doubleheader against Nauset with the girls game kicking off at 5 p.m. and the boys following at 6:30 p.m.