Girls basketball wins 20th game
The No. 3 seed Lady Whalers (19-2) tipped off on their home court against No. 6 Westport (15- 3) on Friday for a quarter final MIAA South Division 4 match. Nantucket had crushed Bishop Connolly last Monday 72-42 in the first round. Westport stomped on Southeastern Regional last Monday by a score of 67-48. Nantucket moved closer to the finals, notching its 20th victory of the season, outplaying the scrambling Westport Wildcats ending up 64-41 at the final buzzer.
Nantucket controlled the boards from the opening moment of the very physical game. Nantucket knows only one gear, “go,” according to coach Willis Ferreira.
“They have no other speed, 100 miles an hour. It is working for us right now,” he said.
Nantucket and Westport had not met during the regular season, but both teams have been in the playoffs for the last five years.
Both teams started tentatively, missing several relatively easy shots in the first minute. Senior center Shantel Hanniford put Nantucket on the board first with a picture perfect layup and it was off and running after that. Most of the season, teams were forced out of the paint by Nantucket’s swarming defense. However, Westport was effective in getting inside. Once there, Nantucket’s Bianca Brown was all over the ball and either dislodged, stole or rebounded (15 on the game) to send the ball back down the court.
Nantucket jumped to an early 6-0 lead before Westport’s Kayla Vincellete nailed a three for 6- 3. Unfortunately for Westport, Nantucket’s senior Lindsay Fry answered with her own trey. Westport never got close again. Halford went down on the losing end of a knee-to-knee encounter halfway through the first period. Fans held their collective breaths as Sophomore Jess Halford Halford was helped off the court, not to return until the second half. Sophomore Ashley Symer came off the bench and took over the point guard spot without missing a beat. While Nantucket only dresses 10 players, coach Ferreira has been able to rely on his bench players without causing a ripple.
Nantucket was up 23-12 to open the second quarter. Action was fast and furious with the refs letting the girls play the game. However, that caused an increase in the physical intensity with bodies flying through the air and sliding across the floor. The Lady Whalers ran off 12 unanswered points halfway through the second for a 35-12 lead. By the half Nantucket was up 36-19. Halford re-entered the game after the break and immediately made her presence known by scoring four points within the opening seconds for the 40-19 lead. The quarter ended with Nantucket in the lead 51-24.
Despite scoring lulls in the fourth for both teams, Nantucket maintained a 20 plus point lead. Coach Ferreira cleared the bench with three minutes left before the final buzzer, giving Nantucket the victory. Eight Nantucket players put up points. Hanniford lead all scorers with 18 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Brown with 14 points and Fry with 10 points, including two three-pointers. Halford chipped in for eight and Ashley Clinger contributed six with 10 rebounds. Westport’s Vincelette sunk three treys on her way to 11 points and Kelsie Sowersby added 13.
“The girls work really hard at practices,” said Ferreira. “They give all I can ask during games. It has been really fun to watch. I get to see how unselfish they are.”
Next up for Nantucket was the No. 2 South Shore Christian Academy Warriors, who won their way into the semi-final round by beating No. 10 Norfolk City Aggies in overtime 65-63 on Friday. Originally scheduled for this past Monday, bad weather forced the game to Tuesday at 5 p.m. at neutral site Sandwich High School.
Westport fans reported that a member of the Cohasset coaching staff was sitting in the upper reaches of their section of bleachers on a scouting trip. Nantucket’s reputation preceded them and the margin of victory over Nantucket’s opponents has been huge by any standards. Results of the semi-final game were not available by press time. Check acknews.com for the results. I
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