ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Before Friday night’s game, last year’s league MVP Emily Houle was honored for reaching the 1,000-point plateau and had her name added to the gym’s banner. Once the game tipped off all eyes were a current MVP candidate as she went in search of the same milestone.
While much of the focus from the fans, and from the Stoughton defense, was on Attleboro senior forward Sarah Deyo, who came into the game needing 36 points to reach 1,000 for her career, the Bombardiers showed that they have other weapons to give opponents problems.
Led by a game-high 14 points from senior Julia Strachan, Attleboro had four players reach double digits and saw 10 players record at least a single point in an emphatic 65-35 victory over Stoughton. Deyo finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds on the night, leaving her 26 points short of the milestone.
“Even last year, we had the ‘big three’ and this year people are saying the ‘big three’ again but we think we have another three that can do that on any given night,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. He added, “We don’t even play polished basketball and we still win by 30.”
Stoughton jumped out to a 3-0 lead on early free throws and after a Jordan Motley layup led again at 5-3, but Attleboro took over and went on a 24-2 run to seemingly take control of the game. The Bombardiers knocked down four shots from beyond the arc in the opening quarter with Jordyn Lako (11 points and eight rebounds), Mish Logie (six points and six assists), Sam Pierce (11 points and six rebounds) and Strachan each knocking down one.
“For us it’s mentally we have to decide that we’re not going to let anyone outwork us,” said second-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The threes they got early were uncontested. Our hands were down and we’ve got to keep improving being long on defense.”
The Attleboro run continued in the second with Lako scoring off a Logie assist then feeding freshman Nyah Thomas for a layup. A Deyo putback and another Strachan three had the Bombardiers ahead 27-7 and forced a Stoughton timeout.
The Black Knights got themselves back into it after the breather. Motley (four points and 11 rebounds) got a putback basket and freshman Aliyah Wrightdrilled a three. Another three from senior Lili Njiem and a layup for freshman Shyanne Trinh (team-high 12 points) cut the lead to just 12. Deyo hit a corner three to stem the comeback, but the Black Knights were down just 13 heading into halftime.
“We were disappointed with the last three- or 3-1/2-minute stretch,” said Patch. “We made an emphasis at that point to call out the entire team for the effort and having the bench more engaged. When they’re in you really can’t skip a beat.”
The Bombardiers heeded the coaching staff’s message and put the game away in a dominant third quarter. Attleboro outscored Stoughton 19-2 in the third, held the Black Knights without a point for the first 6:30 of the half and extended the lead to 30 points heading to the fourth.
“We kept them to one-and-done and kind of dictated the play and put them in positions not to get great looks,” Patch explained. “None of them were layups.”
While the trapping defense of Attleboro certainly played its part against a very young Stoughton lineup that features three freshmen, four sophomores, and just two seniors, Steele Jordan also saw the Black Knights miss some looks that could have kept them in the game.
“We missed a lot of shots,” she said. “We had open threes that didn’t fall for us. We’ve just got to keep getting to the rim.”
Deyo got another rebound and putback to start it and then Strachan, who transferred from North Attleboro last winter but injured her knee in the third game and missed the rest of the 2015-16 season, knocked down a jumper. Pierce buried a three and freshman Liv McCall hit one as well to help Attleboro pull away. Lauren Berteletti had the lone bucket in the third for Stoughton.
In the fourth, Attleboro continued to pile on, eventually getting the lead to as many as 36 points. One of the question marks for the Bombardiers coming into the season was who would run the point for them and Patch credited Logie for working hard to make that position hers.
“This year she’s in much better shape,” he said. “We’ve demanded of her to shoot her shot. Last year she was very tentative but she’s much more confident.”
Stoughton’s biggest bright spot on Friday was the play of Trinh. Despite missing a large portion of the game due to foul trouble, she stepped up in the fourth quarter with seven of her 12 points, including a three and a runner in the lane. Steele Jordan admits it will be a steep learning curve for her young roster (especially with Oliver Ames and Attleboro as the opening two games) but she is still confident in the Black Knights’ potential.
“I’m excited for my whole team,” she said. “Everyone brings something different. Shyanne was bright spot and she works hard for us. There’s a lot of season left and we’re just going to keep grinding it out.”