HARVARD-Ayer-Shirley was already at a disadvantage when they took to the floor at Bromfield High School Tuesday night. The Panthers had just seven active players on the roster, and the athletic Lady Trojans wore down Ayer-Shirley in the later quarters. Despite being undermanned, the Lady Panthers stuck to their up-tempo style, with the hope that they would wear down Casey Magrath and Burke.
No such luck, Montana Burke led the Lady Trojans to a 59-40 win with her 16-points, and a team high six rebounds, while shooting three-of-four from three-point land.
"When Montana Burke shoots the lights out in the first half, they are going to be a tough team to beat," said Ayer-Shirley head coach Pete Page. "We had a couple of girls who were out sick today, but that doesn't take anything away from what they (Bromfield) did today. I thought they played really well."
Bromfield found themselves behind 2-0, after Emily Megan dropped two from the charity stripe. The embers of Burke's hot-shooting started to burn with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter, when she flushed a three-pointer from the left side to give the Lady Trojans an early 3-2 lead.
Ayer-Shirley and Bromfield exchanged baskets for much of the first quarter, but the real storyline was the defense. The two teams traded leads on five different occasions in the quarter, with the Lady Trojans leading by as much as four with 3:30 left, when Magrath hit a runner off the glass, 9-5.
At the end of the first quarter, Ayer-Shirley clung to a narrow 12-11 lead, after Olivia Warila knocked down both of her free-throws in the waning seconds.Bromfield found their groove midway through the second quarter, with a 7-0 run spearheaded by Burke, who drained deep three-pointer from the right side during the 3:30 sequence to take a 25-17 lead.
The Lady Panthers refused to go into the half quietly. Megan canned a three-point bomb from the top of the key to bring the Panthers to within four, 26-22 with 28 seconds left in the half. Bromfield's Kirsten Sundeen (six points, five rebounds) banked a lay-up high off the window to conclude the first half scoring to give the Lady Trojans a 28-22 lead at the break.
The Lady Panthers came out of the half reenergized and on a mission to claw their way back into the game. Tina Babcock knocked down a three-point missile from long range to start the half which brought Ayer-Shirley within three, 28-25. Ayer-Shirley trailed by only four at the end of the third, but the Lady Trojans caught fire in the fourth quarter.
"I feel we have better athletes," said Bromfield head coach Mike Dube on his team's ability to grind out games. "The hope is by the fourth quarter we will take over, and so far this year that is what has been happening. We had a little more in the tank then they did. We don't have many basketball players, but we do have athletes."
Bromfield utilized a 10-0 run that ate up about 4:00 of precious time, and the Lady Trojans never looked back. Ayer-Shirley was led in scoring by their point guard, Megan who had 15 points and two rebounds in the loss. Gabby Hebert pitched in 13 points and game high seven-rebounds for the Lady Panthers.