HANOVER/BOSTON – The Monomoy girls basketball team saw stellar play from multiple players during their run in the playoffs. The Sharks rallied from an early deficit to beat South Shore Vocational 47-31 in first round action before falling to Cathedral 72-25.
Head coach Pete Richer said the MIAA South Div. 4 first round game against South Shore went exceptionally well in spite of a few bumps along the way.
“We started out very slowly,” he said. “The girls seemed a bit tentative. Shots just weren't falling right at the beginning, so we fell into a 7-0 deficit right off the bat. With about two minutes to go in the first quarter, we still hadn't scored.”
That's when Richer had his team switch up their defense from zone to a trapping man-to-man, which he said turned everything around immediately.
“By the end of the first quarter we were winning 8-7,” he said.
The Sharks were just getting started. After taking the lead, the girls fought hard to extend it, which Richer said they did, and then some.
“From the time it was 7-0 to halftime we outscored them 23-2,” he said. “That was a fantastic turnaround.”
Though stunned, the Vikings weren't ready to surrender and narrowed the Sharks' lead in the third quarter from 14 points down to seven, but Richer said his tenacious team again turned the tide and brought the lead back up again before the end of the quarter and then held on for the win.
Richer said what added to the intensity of the game was one of his key players incurring too many fouls.
“What was amazing about the game is that Erin Starkey, one of our leading scorers, got into foul trouble and ultimately fouled out in the fourth quarter,” Richer said. “She didn't end up playing that much and scored zero points, so everybody else obviously picked up the slack, which is the sign of a great team. I was very, very proud of them for not getting caught up in our early deficit or getting caught up in the fact that Starkey got into early foul trouble. They just kept their composure, kept working hard, and the result was awesome.”
Overall, Mackenzie Balfore had 13 points, followed closely by Caroline DiGiovanni with 11, Maggie Dever with eight, Leah Nash with seven, and Melissa Velasquez six.
“Melissa did a great job driving to the basket and getting fouled,” Richer said. “She sunk four of seven free throws in the first half.”
Balfore scored nine of her 13 points in the first half, including going 3-for-4 at the foul line, while Dever had four steals. DiGiovanni had three steals and six rebounds.
Richer had high praise for Nash, who had just returned from a school trip to Tanzania.
“My game plan was just to have her come in for spurts to give others rest, but when Starkey got into foul trouble she was pressed into action and had to play longer than planned,” Richer said. “She had great defense, key rebounds, and hit three key jump shots.”
Richer was pleased with his team's determination throughout the game.
“With Starkey's misfortune, it was imperative that everybody pitch in and that's exactly what happened,” he said. “Even Aleidy Rodriguez had to play some key minutes and provided some huge rebounds and a key fast break layup.”
He also gave kudos to Velasquez for her tireless efforts, which included eight rebounds, five steals, three blocks, and four assists.
“A heck of a game for an eighth grader in her first tournament action,” Richer said.
Unfortunately for Monomoy, the win set up the third tournament game against Cathedral in as many seasons, making for a difficult quarterfinal match.
“Cathedral is one of the best teams in the state regardless of division,” Richer said. “They are extremely talented, extremely quick, and amazingly athletic. It's unfortunate that we've had to face them three times in the past three years.”
Scoring in that game were Balfore with 12, Maddie Crossen with five, including a nice three-pointer at the buzzer, Starkey and Velasquez three each, and Nash two.
“They gave us something to shoot for in the future,” said Richer of his team's opponents. “[In spite of] the score, although quite lopsided, my girls quickly adapted to their quickness and pressure and actually played a heck of a game considering the talent they were going against.”
Richer said a key component of his team's success is their togetherness, and that he is looking forward to watching his underclassmen progress.
“At no time during the season was there any drama or in-fighting or issues whatsoever,” he said. “They worked hard, stuck together, and did everything I asked them to do. We will certainly miss our seniors, Starkey, Aleidy and Caitlin (Daley), but we have a bright future with our returning players and some of the girls coming up from the middle school.”