GROTON -- After dropping consecutive road tilts to Nashoba and Marlboro, the Groton-Dunstable girls' basketball team needed to get back on the right track to keep their post-season hopes within reach. The Lady Crusaders put together one of the better efforts of the season, racing out to a 30-11 halftime lead en route to a 63-42 victory over Fitchburg.
"This was a great overall team effort which is something we needed," said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. "What we did well tonight was move the ball to find good shots. We had 21 assists on 27 field goals and did a great job of making the extra pass and executing our offense. Also, we did a great job on the boards, especially the offensive end and it led to a lot of second chance points for us. It was a solid effort in almost every aspect."
Once again, Rachel McCarron led the way for the Lady Crusaders with another monster night, scoring 25 points to go with 21 rebounds and three assists. However, she was not alone in having a big game. Lindsey Werner (four boards, 11 assists and five steals) and Riley Rogers (10 rebounds and three assists) scored 13 points apiece, helping Groton-Dunstable improve to 5-6 on the season.
"Rachel had another monster night which has almost become an expected thing at this point," said Hennelly. "Lindsey has become a consistent second scoring option for us while also doing a great job of distributing the ball. Riley was extremely aggressive tonight and always gives us energy and effort, but tonight she did a great job of finishing on offense."
It took little time for the Lady Crusaders to establish control of the game, racing out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter. McCarron led the way with six points and a pair of assists. Werner added five points and two assists while Rogers and Cate Cullen added a bucket each. An offensive rebound and put back by McCarron gave Groton-Dunstable a 15-2 advantage after eight minutes of play.
With a minute and a half to play in the first half, Cassie Boddle knocked down a pair of free throws to draw the Lady Red Raiders within 12 at 22-10, but that was the closest the game would get the rest of the way. The Lady Crusaders reeled off an 8-1 kick to close out the second quarter. Rogers knocked down a three-pointer and a lay-up, both off passes from Werner before setting up a McCarron lay-up that made it 30-11 heading into the intermission.
They key to the 19-point halftime lead was Groton-Dunstable's work on the boards. Over the game's first 16 minutes, the Lady Crusaders held a 33-16 edge on the boards, including an incredible 22 offensive rebounds.
"Anytime you control the boards, it is going to be a big help, but to do so well on the offensive boards is a big lift," said Hennelly. "Cate Cullen stepped up big for an injured Leanne Mueller and was strong in the post for us while Rachel and Riley worked hard to keep possessions alive tonight."
While Groton-Dunstable's defense weakened a bit in the third quarter, allowing 18 points, its offense continued to click, reeling off 22 points. McCarron set up shop in the post and delivered 12 points on six lay-ups while Rogers added five points and Werner three to offset nine points from NaKeeya Codrington of Fitchburg as the Lady Crusaders extended their lead to 23 at 52-29 heading to the final quarter.
In the final quarter, Hennelly was able to get the bench some quality minutes and they played well as Jamie Park, Kim Contonio and Alex Pray all found the score book. Groton-Dunstable coasted the rest of the way, picking up an all important non-league victory to move to within one game of the .500 mark.