By Ed Niser
GROTON — Groton-Dunstable made a mockery of the Quabbin offense in the first-half, limiting the Panthers to just three points. The Crusaders defense was clicking and made a statement in Monday night’s convincing 45-21 drumming of Mid Wach B foe,Quabbin.
Junior Brielle LeClerc nailed five three-pointers and led led the Crusaders with 19 points and 4 steals on the defensive side of the floor.
Hanna Van Pelt turned in the best all-around performance for Groton-Dunstable with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and a block.
“Brielle is the type of kid who is going to have a game like this,” Groton-Dunstable head coach Mark Hennelly said of his sharpshooter. “Whether she has 0 points or 19 points, you really can’t tell the difference. She works tirelessly and is a true team player. I know she is going to have nights like this where nobody will be able to stop her.”
Groton-Dunstable, at the time of publication, is undefeated at 4-0 and 2-0 in league play.
“Offensively, things clicked in spurts,” Hennelly said. “Brielle LeClerc shot lights out for us. Hanna Van Pelt did a nice job down low when we needed to start scoring inside a little bit. But, we had too many turnovers in transition and we also need to clean-up our half court offense. It is still early in the season, but we need to correct those issues in order to compete with the top teams in our league.”
Groton-Dunstable shot 33 percent from the field in the first half and was 3 of 6 from three-point range.
The Crusaders opened the game with a n 8-0 flurry, which prompted a Quabbin timeout. Jillian Nichols netted the only shot from the field in the half for Quabbin on the ensuing Panther possession. From there on out, it was all Groton-Dunstable, as LeClerc knocked down a three to extend the Crusaders’ lead to 11-2. By quarter’s end, the lead ballooned to 16-2.
The Crusaders scored just six points in the second to take a lopsided 22-3 lead into the half.
Five-foot-10 sophomore forward Ellie Eisenklam added six points, 4 rebounds and a pair of assists for Groton-Dunstable. Eisenklam is a tough guard for opponents because of her size and athletic ability.
“Ellie is one of the most athletic kids I have ever coached,” Hennelly said. “She makes life miserable for the opposing team. I wouldn’t want to be guarded by her — I would get frustrated.”
Groton-Dunstable will have one week to rest before its next road contest against a formidable Westboro team.
Hennelly admits some things need fine-tuning if the team wants to compete for a Midland B league title.
“We are going to have to get a little more cleaner with our game,” Hennelly said. “We looked a bit sloppy at times, but it is really hard to be upset because the effort and intensity are there nonstop. The way we played tonight would not have been enough to beat a team like Notre Dame (of Worcester) or North Middlesex. 4-0 in the first four games is better than the alternative.”
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