TOWNSEND — Shooting is the major variable in basketball and on a day when its shots weren’t falling like they normally do, the T.A.P. seventh-grade girls basketball relied on the staples to grind out a 29-19 win over Mahar in travel team playoff action on Saturday.
T.A.P. used a harassing full-court press to create offense from its defense, making an amazing 23 steals in the contest. Every T.A.P. player who set foot on the court showed intensity and plenty of hustle.
T.A.P. also did an outstanding job of pressuring Mahar players who grabbed rebounds, forcing them into quick passes that were frequently intercepted.
Emily Flavin had the hot hand for T.A.P., leading the way with 12 points and three rebounds. Olivia Cappucci finished with five points and eight rebounds, while Brittani LeBlanc (eight steals) and Lexi Thonis (three rebounds, two steals) added four points each. Rounding out the scoring were Katie King (three rebounds, seven steals) and Julianna Woolrich with two points each.
Buoyed by a pair of 15-footers by Flavin, T.A.P. took a 6-2 lead after five minutes, but Mahar received a fast break lay-up by Caroline Grutchfield and a mid-range jumper by Kaci Bradshaw to tie the game up at 6-6 midway through the first half.
T.A.P. turned it up a notch at both ends of the court and took control of the game with a 12-2 run to close the half. Flavin keyed the spurt with two more 15-footers, while Cappucci finished off a drive, Thonis hit a lay-up, and King hit a pair of free throws to send T.A.P. to intermission with an 18-8 advantage. Mahar had trouble advancing the ball up the court against T.A.P.’s pressure and when it did, T.A.P. did a nice job of forcing difficult shots.
Mahar would go away and put together a 9-2 run to open the second half and to climb back into the game. When Samantha Macomber hit a short jumper with six minutes left in the game, Mahar was within 20-17.
With the game hanging in the balance, T.A.P. tightened up on the defensive end and Thonis came up with an important basket to turn things around, draining a 17-footer. Cappucci added a free throw, before Flavin finished off her productive game with a short jumper and a lay-up to put the game out of reach at 27-17.
Ali Lynch was crucial to T.A.P.’s defensive effort with intimidating play inside the paint, blocking a number of shots in the contest. Also turning in a strong defensive effort was Kaitlin Hanlon.
Kianna Whitmore led Mahar with seven points while Carly Jillson added four points and three rebounds. Grutchfield (four rebounds), Ally Parker, Macomber (three rebounds) and Bradshaw each added two points.
T.A.P. held a slim 25-24 rebounding advantage in the game.