GROTON - Over the past two years, Groton-Dunstable's Rachel McCarron has put together back-to-back MVP campaigns. This season, the senior has taken her game to a new level. McCarron scored 15 of her team's 17 points in the second quarter, breaking open a tie game to lead the Crusaders to a 56-31 Mid-Wach B league victory over visiting Quabbin on Tuesday night.
"Rachel was outstanding again and it is getting to the point where I am running out of things to say about her," said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. "What has been impressive to me is the improvements she has made to what was already a strong all-around game. She is seeing all kinds of different defenses thrown at her this year and she is still putting up big numbers."
While McCarron was outstanding, the Lady Crusaders got solid contributions from Riley Rogers and Celina Antonellis that helped key the win. Rogers kept Groton-Dunstable within striking distance by scoring the team's first six points while providing stellar defense. Antonellis only registered one point and two assists, but her calming influence on offense was instrumental throughout the game.
"A lot of people might think we only have Rachel, but we are getting great efforts from others," said Hennelly. "Tonight, Riley came out of the gate strong and was really the only offense we had in the early going. Celina has been great since we moved her into the starting line-up and does a great job of setting us up. Their stats aren't going to show all they do every night, but they are big parts of the success we have had recently."
After a first quarter that resulted in a 10-10 draw, the Lady Crusaders seized control with a 17-3 run keyed by the play of McCarron. The UMass-Lowell bound senior showed off her full repertoire, knocking down a three-pointer while aggressively getting to the basket for four lay-ups and hitting all four of her free throws. Leanne Mueller added the other bucket while Rogers added a pair of assists during the quarter as Groton-Dunstable took a 27-13 lead into the break.
After five consecutive points by Jackie Welch drew the Lady Panthers to within 13 at 33-20, the Lady Crusaders answered with a 10-2 kick that put the game out of reach. Lindsey Werner got things started with a trey from the top of the key off a Rogers feed while McCarron added the next five on a conventional three-point play and a 12-foot jumper off a Melyssa Langell look. When Jamie Park knocked down a pair of free throws, Groton-Dunstable's lead had grown to 21 at 43-22.
In the fourth quarter, Hennelly turned to his bench, who provided quality minutes. Alex Pray hit a short jumper and added a free throw while Werner added a pair of assists to help the Lady Crusaders hold a 10-6 edge in scoring to close out the win and improve to 3-4 on the season and 1-1 in league play.
"It is always nice to get your first league win and we had a lot of contributions tonight from a lot of kids which was good," said Hennelly. "Right now, we are working on finding a consistency in our intensity on a night in, night out basis. We came out a little sluggish tonight but were able to overcome it. In order to be successful moving forward, we are going to have to play hard for a complete 32 minutes."
McCarron led the way for Groton-Dunstable with 30 points, 19 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots. Rogers finished with eight points, five boards, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Mueller added six points and six rebounds while Werner chipped in three points and six assists.
Lindsey Howland led Quabbin with 10 points and six rebounds. Welch contributed seven points and three assists while Mary Beth Parslow and Carleigh Zalneraitis chipped in four points each.