GROTON — Throughout its 2010-11 season, the Groton-Dunstable girls basketball team has thrived by doing just enough to win, and it happened again on Monday night. Despite 24 turnovers, seven of 17 free throw shooting, and scoring no more than 12 points in a quarter, a 46-29 rebounding edge and solid defense keyed a 41-37 win over Oakmont.
“It seems that we can’t put together a full 32-minute effort and that is frustrating,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. “Some nights we execute well on offense and get sloppy on defense. Some nights our defense is stellar and we can’t make lay-ups. In order for us to have success moving forward, we need to find a balance or we will be in trouble.”
Over the first eight minutes of the game, neither team played well, but the Lady Crusaders played better. Groton-Dunstable blanked Oakmont in the first quarter, forcing nine turnovers and taking an 8-0 lead, but it could have been more as they missed a number of lay-ups in transition.
Things picked up in the second quarter as both teams found a bit of a groove offensively. After an Anna Towle offensive rebound and put-back stretched the lead to 10-0, the Lady Spartans finally got on the board on an Anna Porpora driving lay-up with 6:40 to play in the opening half.
Oakmont cut the lead to four at 13-9 after a pair of Kristen Connolly free throws, but the Lady Crusaders answered back with a 7-2 run to extend their advantage. Erika Eipp came off the bench to knock down a three-pointer and make a great lead pass to Kayla Meijer for a lay-up while Amy Mattson added an offensive rebound and put-back that gave Groton-Dunstable a 20-11 edge heading into the intermission.
After a strong half of defense, the third quarter saw the Lady Crusaders fall asleep several times. Several times Groton-Dunstable got confused, not knowing who they were covering and it led to a 9-2 run by Oakmont. Chelsea Goodale (game-high 12 points) was the catalyst, draining a long trey while adding a steal and lay-up that made it a 24-20 game.
Hennelly decided to make a line change and went with his second unit of Riley Rogers, Meijer, Cate Cullen, Leanne Mueller and Molly Lamarre and they more than held their own. Mueller scored four points while the defensive intensity picked up for Groton-Dunstable as they pushed the lead back to 28-20 before settling for a 31-25 lead after three quarters of play.
Lay-ups by Meijer and Rachel McCarron midway through the final quarter extended the lead to eight at 37-29, but the Lady Spartans kept coming back, reeling off six straight points to get within two. Goodale came up big again, hitting a 17-foot jumper and adding a pair of free throws to make it 37-35.
After the teams traded baskets, Eipp iced the game with a pair of free throws with three seconds left as the Lady Crusaders started off its four-game week with a win.
“I thought our second unit gave us a nice lift in the third quarter and did some really good things,” said Hennelly. “Anna gave us another great effort and played through some foul trouble. We did good work on the boards, which was good. We just are going to find out a lot about ourselves in our last three games.”
Towle paced Groton-Dunstable with seven points and nine rebounds. McCarron (eight boards, three assists), Mattson (four rebounds and three steals) and Mueller finished with six points each while Meijer grabbed nine rebounds off the bench.