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Aggressive Panthers spoil Lady Crusaders’ celebration

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Quabbin 51

Groton Dunstable 37

By Ken Blanchette

kblanchette@nashobapub.com

GROTON — On a night when Groton Dunstable celebrated National Women in Sport Day, Quabbin came to town and rained on the parade by posting a 51-37 win over Groton Dunstable.

Quabbin came with a mindset to play a physical game, and the Panthers executed that gameplan throughout the entire 32 minutes. The Panthers brought only nine players with them, and lost three via disqualification on fouls, but hung on to earn a gutsy win.

“Leda was outstanding for us,” said Groton Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. “She got the ball up the court and made some big shots. Losing her late in the game when she fouled out really hurt us.

“Quabbin was very aggressive and they hit some key shots,” said Hennelly. “We kept getting close but we couldn’t get over the hump. Quabbin was extremely hungry tonight and they are much better than their record. I can’t fault our kids for their effort, I thought they worked hard.”

The first half was a grinder as both teams struggled to score against tough defensive efforts, but Quabbin found their touch first and started to build a lead. Groton Dunstable had just a 17-foot jumper by Megan Gearin to show for the first nine minutes and fell behind 14-2.

Groton Dunstable worked hard on the defensive end, and climbed back into the game from the free throw line, getting four from Stasia Twomey, two by Ashley Ottens and one by Tornaritis to draw within 14-9. When Emily Holmes broke a long Groton Dunstable drought from the field by hitting a short shot, the Lady Crusaders were within three.

Quabbin’s Haley Hanson extended the lead to five with a 17-footer, before Tornaritis capped the scoring in the half with another free throw to make it 16-12 heading to intermission.

The teams battled on even terms over the first 16 minutes, Quabbin holding a 15-13 edge in rebounds, while Groton Dunstable committed 16 turnovers, compared to 14 for the Panthers.

Tornaritis then tried to lift the Crusaders on her back, and the quick guard kept the team in it, scoring on a tough drive and adding a three-pointer to make it 20-17.

Quabbin answered right back with perimeter jumpers from Jess Brown and Hanson to build the lead back to seven.

Groton Dunstable wouldn’t go away and scored nine of the next 13 points to draw to within 28-26 with nine minutes left. Tornaritis was again the catalyst with seven points while Twomey chipped in with a pair of free throws.

But as they did all night, Quabbin had the answer as Proffitt scored on a tough drive and adding a subsequent free throw to make it 31-26. Twice Groton Dunstable climbed to within three points, at 31-28 after a steal and lay-up by Tornaritis, and at 33-30 on a Gearin 17-footer, but Quabbin pulled away by putting together an 18-7 finishing kick.

The Panthers got some clutch play from Bethany Stati (three points, four rebounds) and Abby Rude (four points) after their three key players fouled out.

Proffitt paced the win with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Fournier added 13 points and four steals. Hanson finished with six points and three rebounds and Lucia Breton three points and eight rebounds.

In addition to her 16 points, Tornaritis made five steals for Groton Dunstable. Twomey finished with seven points and eight rebounds, Kelley Hutchinson five points, five rebounds and two steals, and Gearin five points and three rebounds.