After senior Shannon Smally suffered an injury in the Warriors’ win over Stoughton in the quarterfinals, the Warriors had to make an adjustment in the semifinal matchup against #5 Silver Lake.
Head coach Lisa Downs inserted freshman Katelyn Mollica into the lineup, and after a close first quarter, the Warriors pulled away from the Lakers over the final three quarters to pick up a 63-37 win.
With the win, Foxboro returns to the D2 South Sectional Final for the second straight year.
“We knew going into it not having Shannon for the first time, there would be an adjustment. For a freshman to start in the in the sectional semis, it’s intimidating so I wasn’t sure how [Katelyn] would react, and she was a little tight in the first quarter, as we all were. Once the second quarter came, we started to hit more shots and I think that gave us confidence.”
“Defensively we made a few mistakes that I wasn’t psyched about but they picked up the intensity when we needed to on the offensive end. And defensively we did a better job on the boards in the second half, still not as good as we need to be. On offense we started making the extra pass, making some open shots and shooting a little bit more confidently.”
It was a rapid start to the games the Warriors, who are known for their ability to get out in transition and score in bunches, found themselves squaring off with a team that played at the same pace.
“Honestly all season long we’ve been the fastest ones out there,” Downs said. “They were getting back quicker than we were accustomed too, hats off to them they had a nice job. And they were getting back on our fast breaks and we usually can get a couple three on ones and we didn’t have the numbers we usually have.”
Silver Lake’s Annabella Boudreau hit her first two threes of the game to give the Lakers their lone lead (6-3) but Foxboro received trifectas from senior Grace Tamulionis (19 points, seven rebounds) and Mollica (16 points, four assists) to keep pace.
The Warriors finished the first with an 11-4 run over the final 4:33 to play, getting buckets from Ashley Sampson (eight points, six rebounds, three assists), a jumper from Chelsea Gibbons and another three from each Tamulionis and Mollica.
The confidence from the successful shooting over the final four minutes carried into the second quarter, and the offense continued to roll.
The Lakers cut the deficit to five but Tamulionis answered with her third triple of the game off a pass from Mollica, then Abby Hassman matched a jumper from Silver Lake’s Holly Reeder-Morning. Mollica found Tamulionis once again behind the line and she drained her fourth three to make it 25-14 with under four minutes to go in the first half.
Silver Lake kept it close with a 5-1 run only for Lily Sykes (seven points, five rebounds, four assists) to answer with a triple.
Foxboro amped up its defensive pressure to end the half with a steal from Sampson leading to two from Tamulionis, and then a steal from Hassman resulting in a triple from Mollica, giving Foxboro a 36-22 edge at the break.
The Warriors pesky defense came alive in the third quarter, holding the Lakers to just 4-for-17 shooting from the floor in the third quarter while forcing four turnovers. Foxboro used a 12-2 surge to start the quarter, pulling away from the Lakers for good.
Tamulionis drained another three to start the second half followed by two each from Mollica, Tamulionis, and Hassman. Mollica connected for a three on a feed from Hassman to cap the run.
“I told Grace before the game that we needed a big night from her on the scoreboard and she delivered,” Downs said. “Usually once she hits that first shot she’s more relaxed and all of a sudden the floodgates open. She did what we needed her to do. Her and Katelyn Mollica, very happy with what they contributed tonight.”
Foxboro finished with 11 three-pointers on 27 attempts. Tamulionis led the way with five threes made while Mollica had four.
“Grace loves that [three-point] shot,” Downs said. “We’re so lucky this year with Abby [Hassman] doing as well as she does that I can put Grace out on the wing. When she has the shot on, she’s deadly with it. She’s a tough matchup because you kind of need a guard to defend her. So when they put a big on her, she’s able to up fake and go a little bit. She’s doing a great job.”
The Warriors held the Lakers to just seven points in the final quarter, limiting Silver Lake to just 15 point total in the second half.
Foxboro girls basketball (23-2) returns to the D2 South Final and will take on #3 Nauset on Saturday at 5:30 at Taunton High. Nauset has averaged 50.6 points per game so far in the tournament while allowing 37 points with wins over NDA, Duxbury, and Pembroke.