Skip to content



Nashoba Publishing/John Love
Ayer forward Kim Farrington fires a jump shot from the lane over Rachael Pfennninger during the Lady PanthersÕ 49-24 win.

AYER — As season openers go, Ayer’s 49-24 win over Parker School on Monday night was an unqualified success. The Lady Panthers used a rock-solid defensive effort (seven Parker field goals in the game), a 42-31 rebounding edge, and offensive balance to start the season on the right foot.

“Our transition game was the key tonight,” said Ayer coach Joe Scunziano. “That is something we have been working on. We had nine girls who scored points tonight. Our balance and depth was important because we committed 17 fouls in the first half alone, and the ability of kids to come off the bench and contribute was vital.”

Parker featured a lot of size, but they struggled to penetrate the Ayer zone defense. What they did do was draw fouls, but they shot themselves in the foot by connecting on just eight of 28 free throws in the game.

“I think the layoff hurt us and we were rusty,” said Parker coach Ben Benoit. “We did a good job of drawing fouls but we missed a lot of opportunities both at the free throw line and from short range.”

After Parker took a 2-1 lead on a pair of free throws by Rachael Pfenninger (seven points, five rebounds, two steals), Ayer took control with eight consecutive points to move in front 9-2. Kim Farrington (10 points, 18 rebounds, five steals) scored on a drive to put Ayer on top for good. Sarah Megan (eight points, three rebounds, five steals) finished off a fast break with a lay-up and added a 17-footer to make it 7-2, before Ally Fillebrown (four points) drained a 15-footer to up the lead to seven points.

Parker battled back and drew to within 11-8 when Meghan McNierney converted a steal into a lay-up, but Ayer bounced back, getting a perimeter jumper from Megan and a follow-up basket by Farrington to take a 15-8 lead after one quarter.

Ayer maintained their momentum to start the second quarter, clamping down defensively and scoring the first seven points to build the advantage to 14 at 22-8. Cathy Comerford (11 points, four rebounds, two steals) scored all seven points in the flurry.

Pfenninger stopped the bleeding for Parker with a short jumper, but Ayer answered back with a pair of baskets by Amanda Shaughnessy to make it 26-10 with 2:25 left in the first half. Shaughnessy turned in a strong effort off the bench with six points and four rebounds.

The big difference over the first 16 minutes was the shooting as Ayer connected on 13 of 35 field goal attempts (37 percent) while Parker hit just four of 26 shots (15 percent). Ayer complemented that with strong work off the boards (23-16 advantage) in building their comfortable 28-14 halftime lead.

Parker’s Hannah Gale drained a three-pointer early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 12 at 30-18, but Ayer answered back with a 15-footer from Shaughnessy and a follow-up basket by Farrington to rebuild the lead to 16. The closest Parker would get the rest of the way was 14.

“Our guard play was strong tonight and they did a good job of handling the pressure,” said Scunziano. “Amanda gave us a great lift off the bench, and Sarah played a strong all-around game. I was impressed with the overall effort.”

“We are a very young team,” said Benoit. “The girls are just getting used to playing with each other. I like the way we didn’t quit and the girls continued to play hard until the final whistle.”

Lauren Johnston played well off the bench for Ayer, finishing with four points, three rebounds and a steal.

McNierney scored six points for Parker, while Sami Dokus (eight rebounds) and Jackie Irwin (seven rebounds) each added three points.