AYER — After a trio of grueling games to open the season, the Ayer girls basketball team gave coach Joe Scunziano an early Christmas present, a laugher. The final score of 57-35 over Narragansett doesn’t begin to indicate the dominance of the Lady Panthers, who raced to a commanding 34-5 halftime lead behind solid efforts in all departments.
“I needed this kind of game,” said Scunziano. “We clicked on all cylinders in the first half. Brynnan (Farrington) shut them down defensively inside and Katie (Poitras) played a great all-around game. This win started with our man-to-man defense. Our goal was to shut Batallis down and we did a good job of doing that.”
Bianca Batallis ended up scoring seven points for the Warriors, but finished 2-21 from the field. Her nemesis on the night was Farrington, who used her size to deny her from in close, early and often.
Ayer came out firing, building an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes as Farrington (eight points, seven rebounds) and Anna Peck (10 points, 11 rebounds) each scored a pair of baskets. After Farrington buried a short jumper to make it 10-0, Narragansett finally got on the board when Kelsi Millen (10 points, eight rebounds) finished off a fast break with a lay-up.
The Warriors drew to within 11-4 when Millen hit a 15-footer with two minutes left in the first quarter, but the Narragansett offense left the building for the remainder of the first half as they would score only one point over the final 10 minutes.
A pair of baskets by Cathy Comerford (15 points, seven rebounds, two steals) boosted the Lady Panthers advantage to 17-5 after one quarter, setting the stage for a near flawless second period by the Lady Panthers, which saw them score all 17 of the points to roar to their 29-point halftime lead.
Poitras was the catalyst for the Lady Panthers in the second period, scoring a pair of baskets and stealing the Warriors blind. For the game, she finished with seven steals to go along with seven points and three rebounds. Casey Hardgraves came off the bench to provide energy and four points.
The Lady Panthers could have come out with less intensity in the second half, but didn’t and they extended the lead to 35 at 43-8 when Comerford picked up a conventional three-point play. To their credit, Narragansett continued to work hard to the final buzzer and Scunziano had the luxury of giving solid playing time to all hands.
Ally Fillebrown finished with six points for Ayer on a pair of treys, while Hardgraves added four points, five rebounds and three steals. The Ayer defense was active throughout the game, forcing 26 turnovers, complementing a 44-39 edge off the boards.
“It’s great to be 3-1 heading to Christmas,” said Scunziano. “It was nice to get all the girls playing time tonight and we received some good minutes from Casey Hardgraves and Michelle Gardner.”
Ericka Lepkowski led Narragansett with 14 points and three steals while Millen added ten points and eight rebounds. Batallis hauled down 16 rebounds in the game.