Second Half Run Propels Attleboro to Win Over Taunton

Attleboro Girls Basketball
Sophomore Vanessa Ellis (32) scored 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Attleboro to a win over Taunton, keeping the Bombardiers unbeaten in league play. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The first half was end-to-end. Both teams pressured full-court, ran at every opportunity, and quickly converted turnovers into points. It was a high-tempo, even game.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Attleboro came out for the second half with a different game plan. The Bombardiers dropped back into an aggressive 2-3 zone, forcing Taunton to create offense in the half-court rather than getting baskets in transition. It was a plan that worked perfectly, as Attleboro ran off 14 straight points to turn a one-point game into a comfortable lead.

Once the Bombardiers grabbed the advantage, they never allowed Taunton to get any closer than 12 and held on for the 58-45 victory. The win keeps Attleboro perfect (6-0) in league play, extended its win streak to six games since the season opener, and maintained Attleboro’s lead atop the Kelley-Rex division.

“They kept beating us,” Attleboro coach Bri Bracken said about switching out of the press. “We were a little slow with [the press], so I said let’s try our zone. Our zone has been working really well for us lately, so I said let’s stick with it. At halftime, I just said we need more heart and we’ll come out with the ‘W’ tonight.”

Avery James (11 points) got things rolling for the home team when she drilled a pull-up three from the wing to make it 32-28. Vanessa Ellis grabbed a defensive board, dribbled up the court, and then dropped off a pass to James for a layup. Ellis, a sophomore forward, then stepped back and buried a straightaway three to push the lead to double digits. After James made one of two at the line, Ellis snatched the offensive rebound and put it in plus the foul.

“Unbelievable,” Bracken said of Ellis, who filled the stat sheet with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and six steals and was able to take some of the ball-handling load off point guard Kayla Goldrick. “The kid can do everything and we’re lucky to have her. Take control of the game, dribble the ball, shoot the outside shot, she’s a huge asset to the team.”

The and-one put Attleboro up by 15. Somerset Berkley transfer Skylar McCrohan (seven points) ended the run with a put-back, but Lily Routhier (nine points, six assists, and six steals) answered with a couple of baskets. Chelsea Bousquet (11 points and five rebounds) drilled a three to keep the Tigers within a dozen after three, but Attleboro went into the fourth in control.

First-year Taunton coach Gretchen Rodrigues admitted that her team didn’t respond well to the switch in defenses and needed a few minutes to regain some rhythm on that end of the floor. “We struggle against the zone sometimes,” she said. “We have shooters but no one who is real consistent.”

Rodrigues continued, “As the game went on, I thought we did better against the zone. We had to learn to hit the middle, hit the sides, but it is what it is. That third quarter killed us. We were playing catch-up and they’re a good team.”

Bousquet and Tarynn Campbell (nine points and eight rebounds) each knocked down threes in the fourth to try and claw Taunton back into the game, but Routhier drilled one after Ellis grabbed an offensive rebound, Sarah Maher (11 rebounds) hit a short jumper, and James hit another three from the wing to keep the Tigers at arm’s length.

Even with a double digit lead, Bracken told her team to keep pushing. She explained, “Anything can happen. I tell my kids all the time, basketball is a game of runs. We go on ours and then they could go on theirs. There was a point where we kept missing shots, so I said just keep going to the basket. We don’t want them chipping away.”

The first half was frenetic, as both teams wanted to play at top speed from the opening tip. Jillian Doherty (eight points, eight rebounds, and two blocks) scored on a put-back and then with a steal under the basket to put Taunton ahead 7-5.

Goldrick (10 points and six rebounds) went backdoor for a layup to tie it and then Ellis started to take over. She got free on an inbound play for a layup, scored off a nice feed from Routhier in transition, and again got out on the break for a tough finish. Ellis scored nine of Attleboro’s 16 in the first.

Taunton was hanging tough. Lexi Haywood nailed a triple to go in front and Bousquet crashed the boards for a put-back that had the Tigers down just three after one.

Goldrick opened the second with a corner three, but Taunton came right back. McCrohan is a handful in the post and, following an offensive rebound by Cali Melo, she scored plus the foul. Doherty showed off her moves in the paint with a turnaround over Ellis and then made a nice block-to-block pass to McMina Clermont for an and-one. Campbell would add a three to put the Tigers up 27-25.

“We really work on our press,” Rodrigues said. “That’s our bread and butter and I thought it definitely disrupted them today. It’s hard because then team adjust and they switch up.”

Attleboro needed a little life before halftime and James got it started with a nice baseline drive and finish. Then Ellis crashed the boards in the final 20 seconds of the quarter, grabbing the rebound and scoring to give the Bombardiers the 29-28 lead heading to the locker room.

Taunton has lost some of the momentum from its great start to the season, having dropped three straight against some of the top teams in the league, but Rodrigues has the answer for how the Tigers get back on track.

“They’ve got to believe that we can win,” she said. “It’s a new system for them, we’re all learning, we’re all doing this together, and we just have to have good practices this week and come out ready to play on Tuesday.”

Attleboro (6-1) heads into a very difficult week, as the Bombardiers will travel to fellow league leader Foxboro on Tuesday and then play host to defending Kelley-Rex champ Franklin on Friday. Taunton (4-4) will try to bounce back and get over .500 when it heads to Stoughton on Tuesday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Follow Me