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GIRLS BASKETBALL

Groton-Dunstable 29

St. Bernard’s 27

By Ken Blanchette

Sports Editor

FITCHBURG — A pair of rivals renewed acquaintances at the Monty Tech Girls Summer Basketball League when Groton-Dunstable tangled with St. Bernard. In a game that went down to the wire, Groton-Dunstable held on for a hard-fought 29-27 victory.

Both teams showed a willingness to compete throughout the game. Hard-nosed defense contributed to a number of loose balls on the floor and the players from both teams were willing to go to the floor as hustle was a key element in the contest.

Eight players scored in the game for Groton-Dunstable with guard Amy Mattson leading the way with nine points, in addition to four rebounds and two steals. Anna Towle added six points and seven rebounds, pacing the Lady Crusaders to a 33-22 rebounding edge in the contest.

Amy Sullivan turned in a strong all-around effort to pace the Bernardians, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Kristin Buckley added seven points.

The first half was close throughout, featuring ties at 2-2, 4-4, 6-6, 9-9 and 11-11. Towle got the Lady Crusaders off to a quick start with their first two baskets, the first after grabbing an offensive rebound and the second on a strong drive.

After St. Bernard’s took a 6-4 lead when Rachel Pelletier buried a 15-footer, Carley LaMalva (two points, four steals) drew Groton-Dunstable even when she finished off a drive.

Mattson drained a three-pointer to put Groton-Dunstable on top 9-7, but Sullivan tied the game with a drive.

Both teams substituted liberally in the contest and the effort and intensity never wavered. The hard work at the defensive end by both teams made points hard to come by. Play was physical inside the paint as every rebound at both ends of the court was challenged.

Late in the half, Kristin Buckley’s short jumper put St. Bernard’s on top 13-12 with a short jumper, but Erika Eipp answered with a long three-pointer to put the Lady Crusaders on top for good at 15-13. The teams traded free throws in the final minute of the first half and Groton-Dunstable went to intermission with a 16-14 advantage.

Groton-Dunstable appeared to land an early knockout punch in the opening minutes of the second half. The Lady Crusaders came out and played with a lot of effort defensively and scored six unanswered points to build an eight-point lead at 22-14. Mattson got things started with a drive and then added a pair of free throws. When Towle scored on a drive, the Lady Crusaders appeared to be in control of the game.

St. Bernard’s wouldn’t go away and answered back with five consecutive points. Buckley scored on a drive and Sullivan answered with a three-pointer to draw the Bernardians to within 22-19.

Riley Rogers hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to five, but Pelletier (four points, two rebounds, three steals) made it 24-21 with a fast break lay-up. Pelletier turned in a strong effort at both ends of the court as she used her quickness to advantage.

Groton-Dunstable gained some breathing room when Cate Cullen scored on a drive, but both teams went into an offensive drought for four minutes as Groton-Dunstable maintained their five-point lead.

After a Groton-Dunstable free throw, Mattson finished off a drive to put the Lady Crusaders in charge at 29-21 with 1:30 left, but instead of packing it in, the Bernardians upped its defensive pressure and made one final run.

Alexis Gibbons hit a 15-footer, Buckley scored on a lay-up, and Sullivan added a fast break lay-up to make it a two-point game in the final seconds.

McCarron and Amory Willcox each finished with a point and six rebounds for the Lady Crusaders. Cate Cullen added two points and two rebounds.

Ally Esielionis turned in a strong effort off the boards for the Bernardians with seven rebounds. Gibbons finished with two points and two rebounds.