By Ed Niser
AYER — Ayer Shirley’s chances at winning a Mid-Wach E league went by the boards after last week’s losses to West Boylston and Maynard.
Ayer Shirley used a 9-3 run midway through the fourth to widen the gap to 17 and the Narragansett offense never recovered.
The Panthers spoiled the Warriors’ shot at clinching a share of the league title, as Ayer Shirley (8-5, 5-3 Mid-Wach E) defeated Narragansett (8-6, 6-2 Mid-Wach E), 36-24. Ayer Shirley needs just two more wins to clinch a playoff berth.
Ayer Shirley sophomore Hayley Sheriff led the way with 16 points, 7 rebounds and four steals, while senior Taylor Wright ripped down 12 boards. The Panthers forced Narragansett to turn the ball over 17 times.
“We got a complete team effort,” said Ayer Shirley head coach Peter Page. “I thought our defense was outstanding today. Narragansett has a couple of really good scores. Katie Chapman only had (four) points tonight — she had 20 against us the last time we played them. We ran a triangle and two that I think really took them out of their rhythm.”
Freshman guard Julianna Nealy chipped in with 10 points — six of which came from three-point range.
“I thought this was the most composed our offense has been all season,” said Page. “I thought our ball movement was great and that really lead to a lot of nice opportunities for us. I thought our spacing was good. Hayley had a lot of tough finishes at the rim. I was really happy with the complete effort.”
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the opening quarter. Ayer Shirley led 6-0 heading into the final seconds of the first. Narragansett’s lone point in the quarter came on a free throw by Lauryn Davis.
The Ayer Shirley defense continued to wreak havoc on Narragansett, as the Panthers limited Narragansett to four points in the quarter.
Ayer Shirley led 15-4 at the half.
Narragansett managed to creep back into the game with a 6-0 run to cut the Panthers’ lead to seven.
Ayer Shirley’s Hernyde Laurole halted the Warriors’ scoring spurt with a tough defensive play on an inbound pass. Laurole stripped the ball and glided in for a quick layup to extend the Panthers’ lead to nine.
Laurole sparked a 10-4 run by the Panthers, as Sheriff converted on a pair of transition layups, one of which came off a steal.
Next three: Friday: Tahanto (7 p.m.), Monday: @Murdock (7 p.m.), Wednesday: Parker Charter (5:30 p.m.).
Local scores from Tuesday
Ayer Shirley squandered a 15 point lead in Tuesday night’s loss at Narragansett. Senior Jarrod Oberg scored 13, while classmate Jeff Gendron added 10 in the loss. Ayer Shirley falls to 6-7 and 4-4 in the Mid-Wach E.
Senior Mike Farren nailed seven three-pointers for a game-high 21 points in the Patriots loss at Clinton. Junior guard Zach Collins added 14 for North Middlesex, who dips to 3-9 on the season.