FOXBORO, Mass. – Despite losing only two games all season and claiming the top seed in Div. 2 South for the second year in a row, Foxboro has been guilty of getting off to slow starts. In the playoffs, allowing a team to hang around is dangerous, as the Warriors were reminded in a hard-fought, two-point win against No. 16 seed Notre Dame Academy in the first round.
The warning was heeded by the Warriors, who came firing out of the gates in Saturday night’s quarterfinal against Dighton-Rehoboth. Foxboro (20-2) jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 66-35 victory to reach its third straight sectional semifinal.
“I was very unhappy with the way the last game started and they were equally so,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I think they were pretty determined not to have it be that way. They were definitely determined mentally to be more prepared.”
She added, “You do have to remind them that there is no other day, if you don’t leave it on the court. They definitely walked away from that game (against NDA) feeling pretty bad about themselves because they knew they could’ve done better. Hopefully, they don’t ever want to feel that way again.”
Although she knocked down five three-pointers in the first round against NDA, sophomore Katelyn Mollica didn’t have a great shooting night overall. That was not a problem on Saturday. She drilled three from beyond the arc in the first quarter and knocked down a jumper off a feed by Lizzy Davis. Chelsea Gibbons also came out on fire, hitting a pair of threes of her own and scoring all 10 of her points in the first.
The Falcons barely had time to register what was happening before the Warriors finished a 19-0 run that put the hosts ahead 21-2. D-R cut into the lead a little before the end of the quarter but Foxboro was in complete control up 16.
“Chelsea and Mollica just started out so strong,” Downs said. “Their shooting percentage was ridiculously good and you knew we couldn’t sustain that. You knew the second quarter it would go down a little bit, but as long as the defense stays the same we’d be in good shape.”
It was unlikely that the Warriors would be able to continue the hot shooting start, but their pressure defense made it difficult for D-R to get a run started and Foxboro’s ability to crash the boards kept giving them second and third chances. Abby Hassman and Yara Fawaz each finished with nine rebounds apiece and combined for 10 in the first half alone. Shakirah Ketant added seven boards off the bench.
Downs said, “As good as we were last year, the inside presence that we have this year is something we didn’t have. Hopefully, that will continue because we’re going to need it. Our inside game, you have to pay attention to it.”
Foxboro led 33-17 at halftime and came out of the break looking to put the game away. Davis (14 points) drilled one of her four three-pointers to get things started and assisted on a Hassman bucket. Mollica then scored the next five, drilling a three and hitting a floater at the shot clock buzzer.
Fawaz (seven points) had a steal and a layup and Ketant turned an offensive rebound into another basket. Foxboro then got four looks at the basket and finally Ketant smartly tipped a rebound to an open Mollica, who buried the baseline jumper. The Warriors led 49-26 after three.
There was no way back for the Falcons in the fourth, as Mollica scored five more, including her fifth triple of the night, and Davis added eight points, including two more from beyond the arc.
It was a dominating victory for the two-time defending South champions and sends them to the sectional semifinal on Wednesday night at Bridgewater-Raynham. The Warriors will face the winner of Pembroke and Norwood, which was moved to Sunday afternoon.