HARVARD — The Lunenburg girls’ basketball team overcame a slow start at Bromfield Saturday night.
A 14-0 run to open the second quarter gave the visitors a much-needed kick in the posterior before holding on late to beat the Trojans, 63-51, at the Bromfield Gymnasium.
The win lifts Lunenburg to 10-7 overall and punches the Blue Knights’ ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2012, when the scrappy Blue Knights beat Millbury in overtime and league foe Narragansett Regional before losing to eventual Division 2 runner-up Nashoba Regional in the semifinals.
“It’s great,” Lunenburg coach Frank Greene said of his team’s qualification. “It’s been a long time. This is a great team and they deserve to be there. My seniors, my five seniors, deserve an opportunity to see what it’s like.”
Meanwhile, Bromfield falls to 9-8 and needs to win one of its final three games — at Worcester North Tuesday, home to Murdock Thursday, and at Ayer Shirley Regional on Monday, Feb. 16 — in order to advance to the second season.
“I wasn’t unhappy with the way we competed against a team that’s been blowing teams out by 30 their last three or four games,” said Bromfield coach Mike Davidson. “For us to take care of our home court and be right there with them for pretty much the entire game, I was happy.
“Somewhere in (the next week-plus), we have to get that 10th.”
For the first quarter Saturday, the Trojans looked comfy and cozy, well on their way to that much-needed 10th victory and their first trip to the postseason since 2013. While Amanda Accorsi (game-high 16 points, 15 rebounds) hit a pair from the field sandwiched around a Kirsten Sundeen fiddle and diddle on the block, the Blue Knights weren’t able to shake the bagel. Lunenburg started the game 0 for 5 from the field with three turnovers in its first eight trips up the floor, before Sarah Blomgren (13 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks) scored the first LHS basket.
Lunenburg was then 1 for 9 before Elise Lilly canned a trey to pull to within five, 11-6, and finished the quarter 3 of 16 as Accorsi and Sundeen seemingly couldn’t miss, giving the Trojans a 19-9 lead after eight minutes.
“We were pretty pumped up and excited about the chance to make the tournament,” Davidson said of his team’s first-quarter energy. “We had a game plan that was very effective; we created three-on-two situations against their 2-3 zone.”
But after Greene compelled his girls to bring their ‘A’ games for the second quarter, the quintet of Blomgren, Lilly, Kylie Hill, Kayli Mathews and Sierra Heppler rose to the occasion.
“We came out flat, but to be honest, Bromfield surprised us,” Greene said. “Bromfield’s a very good team; they’re athletic, they’re big, and I think they shocked us a little bit. They sat in that tough zone and they surprised us. It was a matter of us waking up and playing our game.
“They’re a very talented group, and all very good offensively; I was more worried about the defensive side, and they showed me they could do it.”
Heppler hit a pair from the field before Lilly (10 points) found Hill (team-high 15 points) for a layup. Seconds later, Heppler came up with a theft over at the sideline before she found Hill for another layup.
Hill then got into her press position at the baseline and stole the inbound pass, laying it up and in to make the deficit redundant, 19-19.
After another Bromfield turnover, Hill hit a 17-footer in the far corner before Mathews picked a Trojan player’s pocket and dished to Hill for yet another layup, giving Lunenburg a 23-19 lead.
“With (Hill), you give her a couple of those easy baskets, and she lights up,” Greene said.
Bromfield’s Abbey Pacl scored off an inbound play to end the run.
“By game 17, you shouldn’t have to worry about a team pressing you,” Davidson said. “You should have your spots and everyone should know their job there. We were rattled and we panicked; once we figured it out, we were fine, but that second quarter, we never recovered from.”
The Blue Knights led 32-25 at the end of the first half, bringing their shooting percentage up to 32 percent after only shooting 19 percent after the first quarter.Lunenburg led the rest of the way, even though the Knights were in foul trouble toward the end of the third quarter, getting their seventh foul of the half with 61 ticks remaining in the stanza. Lunenburg, to its credit, played better defense as it reined itself in, sending the Trojans to the line four times in the fourth to prevent a comeback-by-charity stripe.”We foul too much; we foul way too much,” Greene said. “We have to do a better job.”
To Bromfield’s credit, the Trojans managed to cut the deficit to three points on multiple occasions, the last time coming after Hannah LoChiatto (12 points, 7 rebounds) scored on Amy Jorgensen’s helper with 6:19 left in the third.
Brianna Hamel then made it a six-point game with a deep triple, before Pacl scored in the paint. That was as close as Bromfield managed to get.
Bromfield shot 16 of 61 (26 percent) in the loss.
Lunenburg shot 22 of 71 (31 percent). Bromfield shot 18 of 28 (64 percent) from the free-throw line.
Lunenburg takes on Leominster Friday before ending the regular season at Fitchburg on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Follow Sean Sweeney on Twitter @MrSeanMSweeney