In the third quarter, Oliver Ames could not stop visiting Walpole and gave up 25 points in eight minutes. But then in the fourth quarter OA clamped down and nearly gave itself a shot at a comeback allowing only seven points (all on free throws). It is the inconsistency of a young team that has four of its eight regular contributors playing their first regular varsity minutes.
“We were just inconsistent from top to bottom tonight,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Unfortunately, we have not really put four quarters together. We’re still trying to find an answer to that. There’s a lot of inexperience and we’re trying to dig deep.”
The struggles defensively in the third quarter doomed the Tigers in a 60-46 loss. The Rebels were led by senior guard Kelly Fogarty’s 28 points, including seven three-pointers, while Kayla Raymond had a team-high 10 points and nine rebounds for OA.
Fogarty got off to a dominant start, shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first for 12 of the Rebels’ 17 points in the quarter. OA defenders kept getting caught going underneath screens and giving the University of Maine-commit space to get off a shot.
“Fogarty’s a tough cover and we knew that going in,” said Clement-Holbrook, “but it took us too long to figure out who was supposed to hedge and again it’s the lack of experience.”
OA hung around in the first with senior captain Hannah Carroll knocking down a step-back corner three off an assist by Abby Reardon to cut the lead to 11-10 and then Raymond spun through a double team to answer a Fogarty three with a layup and make it 14-12. Bridge Lancaster added a layup plus the foul for Walpole to end the first.
The Rebels got rolling and extended the lead to 10 points on Fogarty’s fifth three of the night, but the Tigers were able to bounce back despite Raymond and Niyera Mitchell (four points, seven rebounds) being forced to the bench with foul trouble.
Sophomore Sadie Homer (nine points), who also spent the majority of the night chasing Fogarty through an endless barrage of screens, gave the Tigers life with a rare four-point play after Katie Flynn kept the play alive with an offensive board. Freshman Megan Holleran then added a layup in transition and Brenna Burkett took a feed from Reardon (nine points, five assists) and the lead was down to four.
“They really stepped up and that was growth because in both Abby and Sadie’s cases they took it upon themselves,” Clement-Holbrook remarked. “If we can get all five players at the same time to do that consistently for four quarters then it’s going to show personal growth we’re looking for.”
Reardon scored on a drive to the basket in the third quarter that made it 28-24, but Walpole answered back with a Fogarty layup on the break, added a pair of jumpers from Morgan O’Brien (13 rebounds) and then two more threes from Fogarty to break the game wide open. Six Rebels scored in the third as Walpole ran the lead as high as 16 (53-37) entering the fourth.
Mitchell scored all four of her points in the third, Holleran chipped in with a three-point play and Homer knocked down a jumper, but OA could not get into a rhythm defensively. That changed in the fourth, as it took Walpole more than four minutes to get its first point and the Rebels would not make a shot from the floor in the quarter.
Unfortunately, the OA offense could not find the range with Raymond scoring off a Holleran assist and Flynn scoring from close-range on a Reardon drive and dish for the only two baskets of the fourth. The Tigers outscored Walpole 9-7 in the final quarter but it was not enough to make a significant dent in the visitors’ lead.
“All foul shots in the fourth quarter, it’s crazy,” said Clement-Holbrook, who saw her team come from behind to earn a berth in the final against Needham on Tuesday. “We’re capable of it and we just have to keep working at it and working at it.”