AYER -- Coming into Tuesday night's game against Murdock, Pete Page saw it as an ample opportunity to give some of his bench players extended minutes. The Lady Panthers starters played the full first quarter and parts of the second before they gave way to the substitutes. The Lady Panthers started and finished the first half on a 24-6 run, and they never looked back as they downed Murdock, 48-30.
"I was really happy with our reserves," Page said after the win. "Morgan Tormey has been playing really well for us, and she had a nice shot. Emily Goodman in the past has been really worried about her offense, but she played very good defense for us today, I was very happy with that. Meg Conversano plays tough as an undersized four underneath. Senior Jamie McKenna and Lou Teague both came out and did some good things offensively for us. I was very impressed with the play of our bench."
Ayer Shirley star senior center Gabby Hebert scored two points and ripped down 10 rebounds in limited minutes. The first minute of the third quarter was fast-and-furious. Tina Babcock splashed down a three-pointer from the left elbow 35 seconds into the game. Then, it was Murdock's leading scorer Morgan St. Pierre (17 points) who answered with a three-point basket from the top of the key, 12 seconds later. However, the Ayer Shirley offense started to find its stride, as the zone defense created headaches for the Lady Blue Devils offense. The Lady Panthers closed the half on a 10-2 sprint behind the lights-out shooting of Babcock (12 points) and Olivia Warilla (nine points).
Ayer Shirley extended its lead out to as much as 26 points, 34-8, following a slicing layup by Hailie Young. However, Murdock continued to fight late in the fourth quarter and brought the game back to within 20 following a three-pointer by St. Pierre. Lou Teague netted the final points of the game with a strong finish under the basket.
All 13 Lady Panthers saw minutes in the game. Freshman center Taylor Wright led Ayer Shirley off the bench with six points and two rebounds. 11-out-of-13 Lady Panthers broke the score column.
With the win, Ayer Shirley improves to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in Mid-Wach D play at the time of publication. The Lady Panthers owned a 34-21 advantage on the glass in the victory over Murdock.
For a full recap on Thursday's rivalry battle with Littleton, please visit Nashobapublishing.com/sports.
"I've seen Littleton play and they're good," he said. "They can go big and go small. They are also nine or 10 deep. I think it is going to be a dogfight. I am hoping that we come out and play one of our better games to stay with them. The girls know them, and they know us. We all played AAU together, so there are no surprises there. A lot of the seniors here are not giving up on a chance at a league title. If we want a shot, we have to beat Littleton and we have to beat West Boylston, and hope the two of them split their series."