GROTON -- Needing to win four of their final six games to secure a District berth, the Groton-Dunstable girls' basketball team can ill-afford to take any game lightly. On Tuesday night, the Lady Crusaders were extremely business-like in their approach of dispatching 3-13 Hudson, running out to an early 10-0 lead and never looking back en route to a 71-36 win in Midland League B action.
"The girls know that every game from here on out is important and that we can't afford to bring anything but our best effort and that is what we did tonight," said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. "I thought we took care of the ball, hit our shots and rebounded well. This was the type of effort we need to put forth going forward, if we want to make a serious run at the postseason."
As part of a game-opening stretch that saw the Lady Crusaders score the first 10 points of the contest, the entire starting five got into the action. Leanne Muller got things rolling with a five-foot jumper, Celina Antonellis hit for a layup while Rachel McCarron added a short jumper. Riley Rogers capped things off with a pair of jumpers while Lindsey Werner had three assists during the run that saw Groton-Dunstable open up a double-digit advantage.
A Rachel MacMunn layup drew the Lady Hawks within eight at 15-7, but the Lady Crusaders answered with eight of the next 10 points. McCarron took over, scoring seven points on three layups and a single free-throw with some help from Cate Cullen, who assisted on every basket as Groton-Dunstable opened up a 23-9 lead.
Kaylee Cummings (15 points) did her best to keep Hudson in the game, scoring six points over the final four minutes of the second quarter, but she was matched by Leanne Mueller. The senior forward scored the final five points of the first half for the Lady Crusaders on a layup off a Rogers feed and three free-throws to push the lead to 16 at 32-16 heading into the intermission.
Hopes of a comeback for the Lady Hawks were quickly dashed as McCarron's offensive game was at its best in the third quarter. The senior forward scored 14 of her team's 23 points in a variety of manners. McCarron hit a three-pointer, a jumper, three layups and knocked down all three of her free-throw attempts. In addition, Rogers added a three-pointer while Werner added a layup and four assists as Groton-Dunstable extended the lead to 31 at 55-24.
Hennelly turned things over to his bench in the fourth quarter and they continued the strong display of offense. Five different players scored, led by Antonellis, Val Lutkevich and Ariana Lacombe with four points apiece, while Jamie Park and Kim Contonio added two points each as the Lady Crusaders cruised to a 35-point win to move to 7-8 on the season.
"Rachel did what she does and was amazing offensively tonight, but we got some balance to go with her big game," said Hennelly. "Leanne, Celina, Riley, Lindsey and Cate all gave us good second options and hit their shots when they took them. We have some issues closing teams out, so to have that big run in the third quarter was a great thing to see. This was a nice win, but now we have to get to the task at hand and try to win three more."
McCarron led Groton-Dunstable with 28 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Mueller finished with nine points and five boards. Antonellis added eight points, three assists and four steals. Rogers contributed seven points while Werner scored six points and had seven assists.