AYER — The Ayer Middle School girls basketball team proved three things in their decisive 51-7 win over Bromfield in their season opener on Tuesday.
First, they proved that being aggressive is vital to success.
Second, they proved that balance is hard to contain as they received contributions up and down the roster.
Third, they proved they have a knockout punch as they rolled to the first 24 points of the game and never looked back.
The Lady Panthers were aggressive in all departments, but two stood out. They played intense defense, making 24 steals in the contest. Also, they absolutely dominated the backboards, holding a 45-14 rebounding edge over the Lady Trojans, including a startling 24 offensive rebounds.
Olivia Warila (five rebounds, five steals) and Sydney Brinkerhoff (11 rebounds, two steals) each scored 12 points to pace the victory. Melissa Belanger added eight points, six rebounds and three steals, while Sarah Wallace (two steals) and Christina Babcock (three rebounds, four steals) each chipped in with six points.
The Lady Panthers took immediate control, building a 10-0 advantage over the first three minutes. A stifling defense limited Bromfield offensive opportunities and Belanger and Brinkerhoff paced the opening spurt with six and four points, respectively.
Ayer went to the bench and continued to dominate and when Warila capped the first quarter with back-to-back baskets on a steal and a drive, Ayer led 18-0 after seven minutes.
Ayer increased the lead by scoring the first six points of the second quarter. Wallace buried a 15-foot jumper, Renee Lafortune hit a lay-up, and Wallace hit a 12-footer to make it 24-0.
Bromfield finally got on the board on a free throw by Sophia Catalina, before Panna Rasana scored after grabbing a rebound, and Megan Cullinan converted a steal into a lay-up to make it 24-5, but Ayer bounced back and scored the final six points of the half to take a 30-5 lead to intermission. Brinkerhoff sandwiched a pair of strong drives around a lay-up by Babcock.
The Lady Panthers did a solid job of maintaining their intensity in the second half, allowing just a single basket. They came out and scored the first 18 points to build the lead to 48-5. Warila was outstanding over the final 14 minutes, including eight consecutive points midway through the third quarter.
Kayla Timmins enjoyed a strong game off the boards for the Lady Panthers with six rebounds.
Heather Grant led Bromfield with three rebounds.