GROTON — Not every Van Gogh painting was a masterpiece. Not every Einstein theory was brilliant. Not every basketball win is pretty. On Tuesday night, the Groton-Dunstable girls went through the motions and it was still good enough in the end. The Lady Crusaders did just enough to beat a scrappy Marlboro team 34-26 and improve to 12-2 on the season.
“This was easily not one of our better efforts on the season. We were sloppy and didn’t do much right,” said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. “The bottom line though is that we got the win, which is what we needed to do. But we have a lot of areas to work on and improve as we head toward the post-season.”
One of the shining lights on this night was the play of Anna Towle. While the junior center’s numbers weren’t overwhelming (six points, three rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots) her effort was instrumental to the win. Towle was all over the place, making two key diving plays that set up baskets in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
“While not much went right tonight, Anna’s effort and hustle was stellar,” said Hennelly. “She gave us a lift with her play. I know that every game, Anna is going to give me 100 percent all the time and without that tonight I am not sure if we would have come out of this game with the win.”
Over the first eight minutes of the game, it seemed neither team was too interested in being there. The teams combined for eight points and 13 turnovers as poor passes and missed shots keyed the play. Towle converted an offensive rebound into a lay-up with just over a minute to play in the opening quarter to draw the Lady Crusaders into a 4-4 tie.
Groton-Dunstable came out in the second quarter and seemed as if they had taken control of the game. A 10-2 run opened up some breathing room as five different players scored, led by Carley LaMalva (nine points, six rebounds, four assists), who hit a 15-foot jumper and added a pair of assists as the Lady Crusaders took a 14-6 lead.
However, Groton-Dunstable was held without a point over the final three and a half minutes, and the Lady Panthers crept back into the contest. Sam Kahn knocked down a three-pointer, Julianne Farley hit a single free throw and Amanda Monvalcone hit an 18-foot jumper to draw Marlboro within two at 14-12 heading to halftime.
With the score tied at 14-14 early in the third quarter, Groton-Dunstable went on another run to regain the lead. Behind five points from Rachel McCarron (nine points, eight rebounds) and three points from LaMalva, the Lady Crusaders hit for a 10-3 spurt to take a 24-17 advantage into the final quarter.
Towle knocked down a 16-foot jumper to make it 28-20 and after a Lady Panthers bucket cut the lead to six, came up with a big hustle play. With the ball heading out of bounds on the right sideline, Towle made a fully extended dive to save the ball to LaMalva, who hit a wide-open McCarron for a lay-up.
Just minutes later, Towle beat a Marlboro player to a loose ball, sliding across the floor to claim it and flipped the ball to Amy Mattson for a lay-up that made it 34-24. Despite its shaky play, Groton-Dunstable held on and improved to 7-2 in Mid-Wach B play.
“The two big plays by Towle in the fourth gave me something positive to take out of this game,” said Hennelly. “We need to pick up the tempo at practice and carry that over the floor. There is going to be a lot of hard work put in by this team and we need to do it if we want to do anything in the Districts.”