Girls’ basketball: Mascenic, WLC heading in the right direction

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted WLC on Monday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/29/2019 6:37:19 PM

The Warriors were winning in New Ipswich, the Vikings were missing layups, and Wilton-Lyndeborough was in position to pick up a road win on Monday night. But a good second half and two clutch steals down the stretch from Julianna Tucci got the Vikings a 48-44 win.

“We just became a better basketball team again tonight because we’re learning how to win close games,” said first-year Mascenic coach Sean Young, whose Vikings are now 7-5 and are looking through old yearbooks trying to remember the last time Mascenic’s girls’ team had a record like that.

Mascenic is likely a win or two away from clinching a playoff spot; WLC hasn’t beaten anyone but Nute for three years. But Young and the Vikings knew it wouldn’t be easy to get past their nearest Division IV rival.

“This rivalry used to be very big,” Young said, and he should know, having been on both sides of it (in his last year as WLC’s boys’ coach, he coached a young freshman named Kyle Pratt, who’s now in his first year as the Warriors’ head coach). “What I’ve always said about rivalry games is one team could be 16-0 and the other could be 0-16 and the game is still going to be close.”

Wilton-Lyndeborough came out of the gate hitting at a high percentage, as Abby Leblanc, Sam Boette, Brooke Lane and Kaitlin Loverme all scored in the first quarter to put the Warriors up 12-8 early. On the Vikings’ side, junior star Shelby Babin was having a hard time getting anything to go.

“This is kind of what’s happened to her the last couple games,” Young said, “where she misses a couple layups, and we think it’s because she’s anticipating the foul and she’s leaving the ball short. One of the nice things about the team we have right now is when our best player is ‘struggling,’ we have players that are able to pick up the slack, get the job done.”

In the first half, those players were Alannah Johnson, who scored six of her ten points early, and Maddie Pare, who scored six as well and finished with eight. But Lane kept pushing the pace and Boette (11 points) kept scoring, and WLC was up 23-21 at the half.

The Vikings made a point of running Lane ragged as she hit screens and double screens trying to keep up with Babin, the teams’ two best players facing off. Babin kept scuffling, though she’d score a team-high 11 despite contributing to the Vikings’ 18 missed layups. But Lane grew tired as well, and Mascenic held her scoreless in the fourth quarter. Kiley Dougherty would come alive and score eight of her team-high 12 in the second half, but Mascenic fought back, took the lead, and sealed the deal with a pair of Tucci steals. 

Tucci finished with eight points for Mascenic and Maddie Labrie added five. 

Leblanc finished with nine points for WLC and Lane eight.

It’s a growing trend for the Vikings, who won in overtime at Portsmouth Christian Friday night and kept up the heat on Monday in another tight win. 

“Early in the season,” Young said, “we lost a close game to Derryfield, we lost a close game to Epping, we lost a close game to Newmarket –  we did not know how to close out those games. In our last two basketball games, we have been able to figure out a way to win – get the stop that we need, execute properly on offense.”

Mascenic’s road doesn’t get any easier anytime soon. They’ve got defending champion Hinsdale (11-1) on the road Wednesday at 6 p.m.; Portsmouth Christian (4-10) comes to town Tuesday for the Vikings’ final home game and the first of a stretch of three straight games that also features WLC on the road Wednesday and Derryfield (10-3) Thursday. 

The Vikings are close to clinching their first goal of the season, a playoff berth, and a win will just about do it. Next, Mascenic will look to lock down a home playoff game, and if they do, it will be thanks to games like Monday’s setting the tone. 

WLC (2-12) is on the outside looking in, but a fight like the one they put up against the Vikings shows how much promise they have under Pratt and his assistant Ally Jenkerson.

“I'm super happy for what Ally and Kyle have going for them,” Young said. “They're going in the right direction.”

The Warriors have a very tough remaining schedule, as they host Mount Royal (10-3) Wednesday at 7 p.m., then host Farmington (13-0) Friday night at 5:30 p.m. and wrap up their home schedule against Mascenic next Wednesday.




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