TAUNTON, Mass. – After scoring just three points in the second quarter and nine points in the first half, King Philip needed someone to provide an offensive spark and give the Warriors a lift to try and erase a 12-point deficit.
In the second half, senior guard Jen Lacroix gave KP the boost it needed, scoring all 12 of her points after the break and the Warriors pressure defense forced 19 second half turnovers to turn the deficit into a one-point win on Friday night at Taunton.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” said KP coach Marty Crowley, who noted the improved press break and different offense used against the zone. “We know our defense will keep us in games and tonight our offense picked up in the second half.”
“Jen Lacroix was more than huge for us,” he added. “Jen had a great night shooting the ball.”
The Tigers had a lot of success in the first half running the offense through senior forward Alyssa Gibson, who scored seven of Taunton’s nine first quarter points and finished with a game-high 13. She was able to drive through the lane as well as score on offensive rebounds (14 boards on the night).
“They were running a box on Jordan [Wade],” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan, “and we had a play set up to work the bigs inside and thought it worked pretty well.”
Wade and Lily Patneaude each knocked down threes in the second, as KP sank into the lane to protect against Gibson’s offense, although the forward added another four points in the quarter. Meanwhile, KP managed only two made field goals in the entire first half – one each for Shannon O’Connor and Sam Madden (eight points).
The second half was a very different story. Harrigan said, “I thought they adjusted to it well in the second half. They just overplayed us better. They were quicker to the ball.”
Lacroix knocked a jumper, which was answered by Mackenzie Handrahan, then she hit another shot off an assist by Maddie Purdue, but that was also answered by a drive from Maggie Sullivan, as Taunton kept the lead at 12.
After a pair of free throws from Gibson made the score 27-15, KP closed the quarter on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to just a single point. Madden scored on a layup following a Lacroix steal, Lacroix buried a jumper, Riley Dalzell drove to the basket for a layup and O’Connor scored off a steal, as the Warriors used their defense to create offense.
“We didn’t really have the greatest energy in the first half,” said Crowley. “We talked about being on the road that you need to create your own energy and second half…they’re very smart kids and they know what they need to do.”
He added, “Steal, score and steal, score and fight your way back into the game and the confidence – you can pick your shoulders up a little bit. It was a great win for us.”
The Warriors also started to crash the boards as a team. Although Gibson would lead all players with 14 boards, Dalzell (10 rebounds), Christina Hathaway, and Hadley Zolak all contributed on the glass for KP.
“In order for us to be successful, we don’t have that kid who is going to go out there and score 18-20 a night for us, so we need everybody to do their job,” Crowley explained. “They played together as a team tonight and that’s the most important thing.”
Taunton scored the opening four points of the fourth quarter, Wade and Kia Pate each getting baskets, to extend the lead back to five but then KP took control with a 10-0 run into the final 10 seconds of the game.
Again it was Lacroix with the big shot, as she buried a three that stemmed the tide and cut the lead to two. Riley Dalzell made a pair of free throws that put KP ahead 32-31, its first lead of the game, and then Lacroix knocked down a jumper following an O’Connor steal and Dalzell found Hathaway for a layup that put the Warriors ahead 36-31.
“Their pressure hurt us quite a bit and that pressure defense turned into good offense for them,” said Harrigan. “I think we panicked a little bit.”
Patneaude (11 points) hit a three that made it a two-point game, but O’Connor stepped up to the line and made both free throws to ice it. Patneaude hit another from deep at the buzzer but it was not enough.
Taunton (3016, 2-14) will close out its season on Monday against New Bedford. King Philip (6-13, 4-12) wraps up its campaign at Lowell on Wednesday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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