NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It was senior night for North Attleboro on Tuesday night against Miflord, but the Rocketeers turned to a couple of underclassmen to lead the way. Freshman Amanda Kaiser scored a career-high 14 points (all in the first half) and junior Julia Feid scored a game-high 17 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to pace North.
Senior Julia Santos also chipped in with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Rocketeers to propel North to a 55-45 victory over the Hawks in the Kenneth Pickering Gym.
“I thought the underclassmen played really well,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “They wanted to do it for the seniors.”
He added, “I know they’re a little shorthanded and that’s the problem with this league. On any given night…You go on the road on a Tuesday night, unfortunately you’re going to get a game where you might not have your best stuff and then Feid hits those two runners and free throws down the stretch, we pull it out.”
Milford was missing players to injury and school trips and star point guard Kate Irwin was only just back from missing two games to an injury as well, but the Hawks were able to take a 12-11 lead after one quarter.
North picked it up in the second by turning to Kaiser. Feid (five assists) kicked it out to the freshman in the corner for a three and an 18-15 lead, she added a layup in transition (after a Feid pass over the top of the defense), and then she knocked down step-back three in the corner that put North up 26-19.
“We’ve been trying to tell her, she’s got the green light,” said Herber of Kaiser. “She doesn’t lack for confidence and she did very well tonight.”
Feid also knocked down a pair of threes in the second, as North caught fire from the outside. Milford kept it close by hitting from the outside as well. Julie Rabinowitz (12 points) buried a pair from beyond the arc and Irwin (team-high 15 points) hit one, but the Hawks went into the break down 29-22.
“We didn’t finish around the rim at all,” said Miflord coach T.J. Dolliver. “There were a lot of close shots right around the rim, contested here or there, but we just couldn’t finish. Defensively, we just had too many breakdowns.”
Things got worse for the Hawks in the second half, as North scored the first seven points in the third and extended the lead to as many as 14. Senior Emily Haskell hit a three and assisted on a bucket by classmate Santos.
Milford started to climb back in by going inside to Gillian Valanzola, who scored with a post move on the left block. The senior played almost every minute of the game and finished with, six points, 12 rebounds, and nine blocks trying to control the paint.
“We ask a lot of her to play that many minutes because it’s hard for a big to play that many minutes,” Dolliver explained, “but with the injury to Juliana [Tracy] we needed her to.” When it was mentioned that Valanzola stepped up when Milford needed it, Dolliver replied, “She definitely did. I knew that she would.”
Emily Piergustavo (11 points) knocked down a three and Rabinowitz added her third shot from beyond the arc and suddenly Milford was back in it, down just six heading to the fourth.
Irwin started the fourth quarter with a three to cut the lead in half. While it got the senior to 10 points on the night, Herber credited sophomore Olivia Forbes for making it difficult for Irwin and the interior defenders for holding their own in the paint.
“We said, she’s going to get her points, we’ve got to contain her,” he said. “The first time, we doubled down because we were afraid of the inside and they’ve got some kids who can shoot. Santos and [Eliza] Dion and everyone we mixed in there was able to take care of the inside and keep us in it.”
Sophomore Julia Kleczkowski answered Irwin with a three of her own (her only points on the night) and then Feid got going. She scored off the glass in transition off a Haskell assist and then drove the ball to the basket and finished to make it 48-40.
Irwin snagged a long rebound and banked in a three to keep it a five-point game with time running out but Feid went 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute to seal the win.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment,” said Dolliver about working with a short bench. “I knew they were an improved team and I told the girls that before the game and yesterday at practice as well. There were a lot of things that went wrong for us tonight.”
North Attleboro (4-13, 3-12) will try close out league play with a win on Friday against league champion Foxboro. Milford (11-8, 7-8) will close out the regular season against Sharon as it tries to build momentum for the playoffs.
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