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Hawthorne Brook’s strong drives sink Groton-Dunstable

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TOWNSEND — Basketball coaches always stress to their players that two good things can happen when you drive to the basket – a basket or drawing a foul.

The Hawthorne Brook Middle School girls basketball team overcame a sluggish start by using that principle and they literally drove to a 33-27 win over Groton-Dunstable. Brittany Nelson (11 points, three rebounds, four steals) and Maddie Balassie (10 points, five rebounds, two steals) were relentless in taking the ball to the basket, with positive results. The key stat in the contest might have been Hawthorne Brook’s 11-0 edge in free throws, which resulted from a willingness to draw contact.

Groton-Dunstable controlled the first quarter, holding an 11-6 edge off the backboards and taking an 8-2 lead after seven minutes. Molly McNulty, Meg McLean, Kayla Meijer and Kerry Norton each scored a basket for the Lady Crusaders in the quarter.

After Amy Mattson finished off a drive to open the second quarter and extend Groton-Dunstable’s lead to 10-2, Hawthorne Brook climbed back into the game. Balassie buried a pair of free throws, before Sarah Neuhaus hauled down an offensive rebound, converted and added a free throw to make it 10-7. When Balassie sank two more free throws, Hawthorne Brook was down just one point.

Groton-Dunstable extended the lead to three at 14-11 when Mattson drained a 15-footer, but Hawthorne Brook scored the final four points of the period to take a 15-14 lead to intermission. Christine Kenney hit a perimeter jumper, before Ashley Rosko and Nelson added free throws.

Two more Balassie freebies extended the lead to three, but Carley LaMalva tied the game with a three-pointer, but Nelson put Hawthorne Brook in control with back-to-back reverse lay-ups, and the home never never relinquished the lead.

Hawthorne Brook led 23-21 after three quarters before Nelson put the game on ice with three consecutive baskets, scoring on a 12-footer, a drive, and converting a steal into a lay-up.

Meijer sliced the lead to six by converting after grabbing an offensive rebound, but Hawthorne Brook went back to its bread and butter and successful drives by Jessica Meehan and Balassie made it 33-23.

Kenney scored four points for Hawthorne Brook, while Neuhaus added three points and six rebounds. Meehan (five rebounds) and Emily Gustafson each chipped in with two points. Sarah Neuhaus and Vanessa Tenore both turned in strong defensive efforts. The team did a nice job from the free throw line, hitting 11 of 21 attempts.

Meijer led Groton-Dunstable with eight points, seven rebounds and three steals. Molly Lyons (four rebounds) and Mattson added four points each. LaMalva finished with three points, four rebounds and three steals.

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