CANTON, Mass. – It was not a great shooting night for Foxboro and leading scorer Katelyn Mollica was held to only three made baskets by the Canton defense (especially the attentions of guards Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere). In other seasons that could have led to a long evening and potentially a tough loss to a division rival, but this year the Warriors can dominate in the paint as well as the perimeter.
Foxboro had three players grab double digit rebounds, controlling the glass on both ends of the floor, and ran away in the second half to earn a 65-33 win over last year’s division runner-up. The defending league champions now have an early two-game lead in the Davenport standings.
“We talked about how they had more offensive rebounds than we did rebounds for the whole game combined,” said Canton coach JIm Choquette after the game. “It’s a detail about boxing out and doing their job individually. It’s a shared responsibility, it’s on all of us to get better. As coaches, it’s something we need to stress more at practice.”
Despite the big win, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than enthusiastic about her team’s play, calling for a better effort on the defensive end.
“We were giving them way too many foul shots and we should’ve learned from what was being called in the first quarter,” she said. “We didn’t react well to that. I know what their potential is and to see them almost take a step back tonight from what we did against Concord-Carlisle is frustrating.”
Over the weekend, the Warriors started the game against Concord-Carlisle with a 27-0 run that essentially put the game away after eight minutes. Canton made sure that wouldn’t happen again, scoring the first five points of the game. A Sydney Gallery (10 points and six rebounds) basket and a three from Fay Gallery (eight points) made it 5-0 early on.
It took a couple of minutes to get going, but Foxboro turned the game on its head quickly, scoring the final 14 points of the first quarter and 16 straight overall to grab control.
A great outlet pass by Shakirah Ketant (13 points and 11 boards) set up Abby Hassman (six points and 12 boards) for a layup and then Lizzy Davis (11 points) grabbed an offensive board to keep a possession alive that ended in a Yara Fawaz (eight points and 10 rebounds) three. Davis added a three after a Jordyn Collins rebound and then scored on a drive to close the quarter.
Downs praised Hassman’s overall contribution. The senior added two blocks and four steals to her scoring and rebounding. “She’s probably my most consistent player,” Downs explained. “Mollica is always going to have her good nights and get her points even if she’s not shooting well, but Abby is just lights out with defense and rebounding and it’s the same thing night-in, night-out.”
Canton tried to mount a comeback at the start of the second. Sydney Gallery knocked down a shot off a pass by Lilah Milton and Kiara Cerruti (six points) got on the board with a jumper. The Bulldogs got as close as five but a Ketant putback and a stepback three by Mollica (13 points, 6-of-6 from the line) got Foxboro’s lead back to double digits.
“When we handled the press and got into the half-court sets and rushed, we were atrocious,” Choquette noted. “When we handled the press and got into our sets, I think we scored every time that we ran a play. We talked about the discipline of being able to do that for four quarters because there was a 10-minute gap where we’d break the press and jack up a shot as quick as you can.”
Leading 30-18 at the break, Foxboro came out of halftime ready to break the game wide open. The Warriors went on a 16-4 run. Davis scored the first basket and assisted on a bucket for Fawaz. Ketant scored in the post and then Mollica got back-to-back baskets, the second coming off another offensive rebound by Fawaz.
“Defensively, I think we had a decent game plan in terms of guarding Katelyn and we also stressed sticking with so many of their other players,” said Choquette. “Some things we did well defensively in the first half, we got away from in the second half and a little inexperience where everyone is trying to play catchup.”
The Bulldogs found it tough get going offensively. Fay Gallery hit a stepback three, Kayla Albert got a putback, and freshman Samya DaSilva hit a runner, but that was all that Canton got in the third and went into the final eight minutes down by 22.
Foxboro kept its foot on the gas in the fourth. Ketant was a force in the paint, scoring seven points in the quarter, Davis grabbed a steal and layup, and Morgan Sylvestre came off the bench to score four points.
“With Shakirah in there, it just adds a whole new dimension,” said Downs about adding an element of post play to the offense. “Teams have to pay attention to her.”