FOXBORO, Mass. – It is no secret that Foxboro likes to press, likes to run, and likes to get its offense in transition. So, Attleboro came into Tuesday night’s showdown of league leaders determined to use its zone to force the Warriors to find ways to score in the half-court.
The plan was a solid one, with the one issue that the zone gave sophomore point guard Kailey Sullivan a little bit of space on the perimeter and a little space was all she needed to shoot Foxboro to the win.
Sullivan knocked down six three-pointers, including three in the third quarter, and scored a game-high 25 points, nearly matching the Bombardiers on her own. With Sullivan firing away from deep and the defense holding Attleboro to just 11 points in the first half, the Warriors pulled away for a 60-29 victory that maintains their unbeaten start to league play.
“With Kailey shooting the way that she shoots now, it’s hard for people to defend us in a zone,” Foxboro coach Lisa Downs explained. “So, we just had to find the open spots for her on the floor. I didn’t really think that we’d see a lot of man this season, but I think people are going to have to go to that at some point because we do have so many scorers.”
It didn’t take long for Sullivan to find the range. In a first quarter played at Attleboro’s preferred tempo, Sullivan buried a pair from beyond the arc to put the Warriors in front 8-2. While the Bombardiers were able to slow the game down like they wanted, it was still a struggle to break down the Foxboro defense.
Kayla Goldrick (11 points) and Avery James (six points) were able to hit threes to tie the game, but Ava Hill (five points) stepped back and drilled a corner three and Addie Ruter (10 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks) added a put-back to give Foxboro a 13-8 lead after one.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” admitted Attleboro coach Bri Bracken. “We were getting good shots, they just weren’t falling. I told them at the end of the game that I thought there was a cover on top of the rim because Vanessa’s almost and-one was in the hoop and bounced out.”
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s struggles offensively was the play of Camryn Collins. The junior guard was able to match-up one-on-one with sophomore forward Vanessa Ellis (six rebounds), using her strength and speed to keep one of Attleboro’s top scoring threats to four points and no made field goals.
“She can guard anyone,” Downs said of Collins. “The versatility that she has with the strength and the speed, her athleticism, is just so valuable. A lot of times I would’ve put my center on Ellis and she’s not your typical center and that would’ve been hard for us. Luckily, I have Cam who can match her athleticism and keep her in check.”
After ending the first on a 5-0 run, Foxboro’s pressure turned up a notch in the second. The Warriors went on a 14-0 run to start the quarter and outscored Attleboro 17-3 in the period. Collins (13 points, seven steals, and seven rebounds) and Sullivan would combine for all 17.
Collins got it started with a backdoor cut and layup off a feed from Erin Foley (four assists and seven rebounds) and then knocked down her only three of the night. After a pair of free throws for Sullivan. Collins would get back-to-back steals and turn each of them into layups. Another steal turned into an and-one for Sullivan, who also spotted up in the corner for a three off a nicely worked inbounds play.
Any thoughts of an Attleboro comeback in the second half quickly disappeared. A Sullivan steal led to a layup for Ruter and then Sullivan added a pair from the outside to make it 40-14 (Foley got the assist on both threes). Goldrick tried to keep Attleboro close with an offensive rebound and then a dish out to James for another three, but Sullivan answered right back with her third triple of the quarter and finally a steal and layup for good measure.
Downs praised how Foxboro maintained its defensive intensity in the second half. She said, “I think that’s the most we’ve worked for 32 minutes on defense. Some games we’ll have some dips and do some things good and then get lax a little bit. The work ethic was there for 32 minutes.”
The Bombardiers kept battling in the fourth, as Bracken urged her team to continue going to the basket. Goldrick scored twice, once on a drive to the rim and then on a step-back jumper. Merry Bosh banked in a jumper for her only points and freshman Tia Williamson was able to score on the block.
Collins added four more points in the fourth and Isabella Chamberlin (six rebounds) crashed the boards for a bucket, before dishing out a nice pass to Foley on the backdoor cut.
Bracken acknowledged that her team got frustrated at times as the offense struggled to find a rhythm and that the Bombardiers can learn how to step up to the challenge of playing teams of this caliber. She said, “You just have to play through it. Be tough, take the and-one, and go…It made us better and now we’re onto Franklin and hopefully we can learn from these mistakes and be better for them.”
Foxboro (8-1) will be back on its home court on Friday to take on division rival Canton. Attleboro (6-2), which is tied for first in the Kelley-Rex division despite the loss, has its first meeting with co-leader Franklin.