ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro was clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against King Philip, but the Bombardiers shut down the Warriors over the final eight minutes, allowing only six points and two made field goals from the visitors to pull away for a 52-41 victory.
“I think this is our most complete effort, front to back, all year,” said first-year Attleboro coach Marty Crowley, who was facing KP for the first time since leaving the Warriors during the off-season.
He added, “I think we played 32 minutes tonight. We had a great win against Durfee, down by 13 in the third quarter and we came back to win by 12 last game, and the light kind of came on for us. I kind of put us in a hole early with my defensive scheme, but we switched and the kids really dug in.”
Attleboro scored the first five points of the fourth on drives to the basket by MacKenzie Roberts (her only basket of the game) and sophomore Nyah Thomas (seven points, six rebounds). Faith Roy scored on a drive and Shannon O’Connor hit a free throw to cut the lead to 41-38, but Abby Struminski added a pair at the line and Sam Pierce (14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) scored in the paint to extend the advantage back to seven points.
“Sam obviously is a phenomenal player, she’s one of the best players in our league,” Crowley said about getting the senior forward involved offensively. “We’re working on recognition when to give Sam the ball and when not to and I thought we move the ball pretty well tonight.”
Pierce followed with a kick-out pass to junior Jordyn Lako for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 11. Lako scored all 14 of her points in the second half and the point guard also chipped in with nine rebounds. After O’Connor knocked down a late three for KP, Thomas scored in transition and Lako got a steal and layup to seal the win.
First-year KP coach Amy Siggens said, “We don’t go very far in our bench and we’re very guard heavy. The guards we have are very good, so I think it comes down to is trying to get people subs and rest where we can. We just runs out of steam, but that’s something that can be fixed.”
O’Connor, the Boston University-commit, started the game on fire, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Crowley admitted that the Bombardiers had to change things up defensively to slow down the junior guard, who he had coached for the past two seasons.
“Shannon is such a special player,” said Crowley of using Lako, Thomas, and Pierce to guard O’Connor. “The three of them did a nice job on her and we just tried to take her out of the equation and for the most part it worked in the second half. First half, they ran some good stuff for her but we made some adjustments at halftime.”
Pierce kept Attleboro in the game in the first quarter with seven points and Liv McCall gave Attleboro a much-needed perimeter threat with all nine of her points coming in the first half (on three shot from beyond the arc).
The Warriors were also forced to play without starting forward Faye Veilleux for the majority of the game after the sophomore twisted an ankle in the first quarter.
“It really hurt us,” said Siggens. “She’s really been fighting hard to work on her positioning and getting better as a player. She was really starting to get it and to go down like that is too bad.”
The teams went into halftime tied at 25 apiece and the third quarter was back-and-forth. Julia Leroux (nine points, six rebounds) gave KP a brief lead and O’Connor scored four points in the quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Leroux added a pair from the line to give the Warriors a lead at 33-32.
“She never stops playing,” said Siggens of Leroux. “She’s fun to watch and she really wants to go get it. I couldn’t ask anything more of her tonight.”
Christina Hathaway scored inside to put KP ahead by three points, but the Bombardiers rallied behind Lako, who scored eight of the team’s 11 points in the third. She buried a three off a Rory Hopkins pass to tie the gam and added a free throw to give Attleboro a slim edge heading to the fourth quarter.
KP was also hamstrung heading into the fourth after O’Connor picked up her fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third. “Foul trouble seems to be what we’re getting into but I’ll take it because it means they’re playing hard,” Siggens said. “We’ll figure out all the little things and controlling it better later.”
For almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Attleboro held KP to just three points, pushing the lead and securing a third league win in four games this season.
Crowley said, “We really clamped down in the fourth quarter when we had to, but we put ourselves in position where we didn’t have to scramble from behind and once we kind of took off there in the beginning of the fourth quarter that was the difference in the game.”
Attleboro (5-3, 3-1) will travel to Mansfield on Wednesday just one back in the win column of the Hornets in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (2-4, 1-3) will host Oliver Ames looking to get back on track.