By Ed Niser
SHIRLEY — Ayer Shirley girls’ basketball head coach Pete Page went into Sunday evening’s tilt with cross-town foe Parker Charter knowing that in order for his team to be successful, it had to shutdown Parker’s biggest weapon, Paige Senatore.
The Ayer Shirley Panthers (1-3) did not accomplish that pregame goal.
“Our goal was to keep her out of the lane and we didn’t even come close to doing that”, Page said. “My credit to them. I thought Parker did a great job managing minutes when they got into foul trouble. They were definitely the better team.
Senatore lit-up Ayer Shirey for 23 points — nine of which came from the free-throw line — as Parker Charter sprinted past Ayer Shirley, 59-48.
Ayer Shirley was led by senior Taylor Wright with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
Ayer Shirley made a 7-0 run to end the third quarter to trim Parker Charter’s advantage to 10, 40-30.
The visitors brought the score to 10 points on three occasions after switching its defense into the full-court press.
“Parker got into foul trouble late when Paige (Senatore) fouled out,” said Page. “I thought we would have a chance to make a run, but credit to Parker, they had other players step up. We didn’t execute in the beginning of the game. We fell in love with the three early and it was not falling.”
Parker Charter opened the game on a 9-3 run behind back-to-back baskets from Riley Sanderson (10 points, 13 rebounds) and a Lexi Rolfe three-pointer (9 points, 6 rebounds). Ayer Shirley found itself down 14-7 at the end of one.
Hailie Young (14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, block) drained a three-pointer early in the first to end a drought that spanned over a minute.
Young found Carroll at the begining of the second quarter for a three pointer from the left corner to trim the Parker lead to 14-10.
Following that three from Young, Parker rebutted with a 8-0 run spurred by a three-pointer from Senatore.
Ayer Shirley trimmed Parker Charter’s lead to seven late in the second quarter. Wright found Cayla Justice for a spot-up three from the elbow to cut Parker Charter’s lead to 26-19.
Young was fouled on the ensuing Ayer Shirley possession and sank a free-throw to bring the Parker Charter lead to six.
The Parker Charter Panthers answered with a three-pointer from Senatore to send the hosts into the half with a 31-22 lead.
Ayer Shirley is in the process of establishing chemistry with a host of sophomores seeing action.
“We are a very young team,” Page said. “The three was working very well for us in our win against Clinton and I think they thought it would be there today. I would like to see us play a bit smarter and go to the hoop more. I am okay with the loss as long as I see we are getting better every game. We are hoping to start playing good competitive games by game six and get everyone significant minutes — that’s our game plan going forward.”
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