CANTON, Mass. – It was one of those nights. The ball was moving well, solid screens were being set, the cuts were going to the basket and the passes were hitting the right players, but the shots were not falling for Canton on Friday night in the season opener.
The Bulldogs scored five or fewer points in the three of four quarters and, despite a strong defensive effort, lost 34-22 to Dover-Sherborn in the first game on Canton’s newly-laid court.
“If you asked us before the game, do you want to get a lot of layups and free throws and stuff…yes,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “Did we do that? Yes. So, we accomplished a lot tonight.”
The Bulldogs struggled out of the gates, scoring only four points in the opening quarter, two from senior Emma Murphy, who finished with six points and four rebounds in the game, and two from Hannah Jerrier (11 points). Jerrier’s first basket came off an inbounds play and Murphy had a layup to cut the lead to 6-4, which was the score after the opening quarter.
“Some of it was first game jitters,” Choquette said. “I don’t care if it’s home, away, if it’s a week from now or whatever, every time someone plays their first game you’re going to have a little of that first game type of stuff.”
Murphy and Hannah Jerrier each had four points in the second, as Canton had its best scoring quarter of the night with 10 points total. Jerrier had an assist to a cutting Murphy for a layup and then scored on a layup of her own from a Maggie Connolly assist to give Canton its first lead at 10-9.
Lindsey Barrett’s only basket of the night regained the lead at 12-11 but D-S answered with the next four points. Jerrier, who led the Bulldogs with 11 points and 10 rebounds, got Canton back within one at the half with a steal on one end and then a give-and-go with Julia Hamilton in transition for the layup.
Choquette said, “It’s no surprise that Emma is a league all-star and Hannah is one of our best offensive players, both of which just finished volleyball season, so they have to get into basketball mode and all those little things, that feel, the touch, it does come.”
Any momentum that the hosts had going into halftime did not carry over after the break. Canton went nearly seven minutes without a point and D-S was able to extend its lead to as many as 11 at 25-14 before Jerrier scored on a back cut off an inbounds pass. She added a free throw but that was all the Bulldogs would get in the third and trailed 26-17 heading to the fourth.
“The experience of being out on the court and everything we went through last year, helped us play better,” said Choquette. “If we make a few layups and hit a few free throws then we may win the game.”
The struggles continued in the fourth quarter with Canton making three free throws and only one shot from the field (Jerrier on a layup). Defensively though, the Bulldogs were able to pressure the Raiders, force turnovers and limited D-S to only eight points in the fourth and 34 for the game.
When asked if he thought the Bulldogs would win more games than not if they could hold teams to 34 points, Choquette said, “That’s what one of the coaches said to me when we stood up…The key is can we do that consistently. There are still things we need to work on because there were some letdowns and mistakes and frustration fouls but I think we’re going to get there.
The offense will largely come from the interior, but Choquette praised the backcourt for setting the tone on the defensive end. He said, “Our guards are fast. No matter who’s in there, whether it’s Julia, Maggie, the Carrington twins (Evelyn and Lillian), so I think defensively the guards will give us some offense.”
Despite the defeat on opening night, Choquette believed that it was the “details” that needed to be ironed out and he was optimistic because the Bulldogs have shown the ability in the past couple of years to be able to figure things out during the course of the season.
“The girls should be encouraged,” he said. “It’s going to be awesome to go play some of the best teams in the league and see where we stack up and see if we can correct things then it’s right back to them at their place and see how far we’ve come.”