GROTON -- After a 0-3 start, the Groton-Dunstable girls' basketball team had seemingly righted the ship, moving to 4-4 and sitting at 2-1 in Mid-Wach B play heading into Tuesday night. With second place in the league on the line, the Lady Crusaders struggled throughout, committing 26 turnovers, but still found themselves tied with four minutes left. But it was Westboro who made the plays down the stretch to claim a hard fought 51-48 win.
"We were incredibly sloppy with the ball and our execution on offense was subpar," said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. "This was a good test to find out where we were as a team and to keep any hope of a league title alive. I thought we were ready for it, but I feel like we took a step backwards tonight."
Down 6-1 just over three minutes into the game, the Lady Crusaders put together an 8-2 run to take their first lead of the night. Rachel McCarron got things going with a three-pointer, while Lindsey Werner added a layup off a Cate Cullen feed. McCarron also added an assist on a Melyssa Langell five-foot jumper that gave Groton-Dunstable a 9-8 advantage.
Over the next six minutes, the game featured six lead changes and one tie as the team traded buckets. Eventually though, the Lady Rangers scored seven of the final nine points of the first half to recapture the advantage. Tori Flahive knocked down consecutive 12-foot jumpers while Mia Natale completed a conventional three-point play off a Jenna Thomas feed to give Westboro a 24-20 edge heading into the intermission.
The story of the first half was the sloppiness shown by both teams.
"Looking at it, we were pretty lucky to only be down four at the half," said Hennelly. "Both teams made mistakes, but I thought ours were more costly because we were making them in the half-court offense. I will accept mistakes when we are trying to push the ball and score in transition, but we couldn't make a simple pass to swing the ball around or enter it inside and that is unacceptable."
After the Lady Rangers opened with seven of the first nine points of the third quarter, Werner responded for Groton-Dunstable by knocking down a 17-foot jumper and three-pointer with assists going to Riley Rogers on both buckets. But Westboro answered with a 9-1 run key by three-point plays by Flahive and Amy Wilichowski to push the lead to 12 at 40-28.
It was the Lady Crusaders turn to respond and they did, but it came at a cost. Werner, the team's second leading scorer, fouled out with nine seconds remaining in the third quarter during a stretch that saw her team score 14 out of 16 points to draw even. Despite the loss, Groton-Dunstable put together one of the best five minute periods of play it has all season, keyed by McCarron, who scored seven points, including a layup off a Rogers look that knotted the game at 42-42 with 5:47 left to play.
A pair of ties at 44-44 and 46-46 followed before the Lady Rangers got consecutive buckets. McCarron banked in an eight-foot jumper to make it a two-point game, but it got no closer.
Rachel was solid again and did a nice job all-around," said Hennelly. "Leanne Mueller gave us a good night on the boards and our bench gave us some quality minutes. We played better in the second half, but I am frustrated because we were moving forward and then tonight, we let this one slip away."
McCarron paced Groton-Dunstable with 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots. Werner finished with 11 points while Mueller (13 boards and three blocks) and Rogers (three rebounds and six assists) scored six points each.