GROTON -- One of the biggest things that can break the will of a team is playing 25 seconds of great defense only to give up an offensive rebound and have to do it again. On Tuesday night, that is what the Groton-Dunstable girls' basketball team went through. The Lady Crusaders played tough defensively throughout the night, but could not keep Nashoba off the boards, finding themselves on the wrong end of a 56-26 number on the boards, including 26 on the offensive glass in a 49-42 loss.
"It is going to be nearly impossible to beat a good team when you give them second, third and fourth opportunities like we did tonight," said Groton-Dunstable coach Mark Hennelly. "Defensively, I thought we played very well, but we just couldn't come up with rebounds at key moments. That ended up being the difference tonight."
After falling behind early on with five points from Emmalie Keenan, the Lady Crusaders slapped together a 12-5 run to close out the opening quarter. Rachel McCarron was in the middle of the run, scoring six points on a pull-up 17-foot jumper, a pair of free throws and a layup off a Leanne Mueller feed. McCarron also played the role of facilitator, setting up a Mueller layup in the closing seconds that gave Groton-Dunstable a 12-10 lead.
An Erin Cressman layup off a Kelly Poole look drew the Lady Chieftains even at 14-14, but the Lady Crusaders responded with seven of the next nine points to take their largest lead of the night. McCarron knocked down a trey off a Jamie Park pass, set up a Lindsey Werner layup and then connected on a 12-foot jumper, assisted by Riley Rogers to make it 21-16.
McCarron closed out her big first half by scoring the Lady Crusaders last six points, including a layup off a Celina Antonellis feed that made it 25-20. But Nashoba cut the lead to three at 25-22 going into the intermission on a Keenan layup off an offensive rebound, a theme that would continue into the second half.
"We struggled offensively early as we couldn't find a rhythm in the early going," said Hennelly. "Then Rachel kind of caught fire and carried us for most of the first half. I thought we did a decent job on the boards in the first half, but we took care of the ball and that offset the rebounding numbers."
McCarron led Groton-Dunstable with 25-points and nine rebounds.