PEABODY — Contrary to what the final score indicates, the Peabody girls basketball team held its own against the defending Northeastern Conference Large champion Lynn English last night.
While the Tanners trailed by only eight heading into the final quarter, the dominant Bulldogs did them in during the final stanza to run away with a 52-36 victory over the hosts.
“We talked about it at practice that we had a shot at this one,” said Peabody head coach Jane Heil. “Lynn English just has that mental edge as soon as they walk into the gym. Until someone in the conference beats them, they’re going to continue to have that mental edge.”
The first quarter favored the Bulldogs’ quick transition offense, but the second quarter turned out to be a positive one for Peabody. Despite going to the locker room down by five, the Tanners outscored Lynn English 13-6, including closing out the quarter on a 4-0 run.
Peabody freshman guard Melissa Gray sparked the offense by hitting three shots in a row and scoring all of her seven points in the second quarter, including a three pointer. Gray also had two steals, which transitioned into two of her made baskets.
“Her play was impressive,” Heil said of Gray. “When we’re freelancing, she’s great for that. The girls have to look for her more. I told them halftime that I want all of my players to shoot, but if they’re not going to shot, try and find Melissa.
“Melissa’s baskets changed things for us and put us back in the game a few times. When you have that, it lifts everyone.”
The Tanners cut the deficit to within two, 24-22 to start the third quarter after junior Courtney Bua drilled a three-pointer. English answered with 10 straight points and instituted multiple full-court presses to stifle Peabody’s offense.
“Our press is on right now,” said English head coach Fred Hogan. “To our credit, though, we have a lot of basketball players. We have girls that play basketball all year round and don’t play other sports. So, our girls are ready for stuff like that early on (in the season) because of that. Peabody has players that play other sports and the next time around, it’ll probably be a closer game.
“I told the girls when Peabody cut our lead that we were lacking intensity. If we don’t play with intensity, we’re not good. That run in the third set the tone and we came out on fire.”
Peabody, however, ended the quarter on another solid run of its own after senior captain Carolyn Scacchi netted five of her 13 points. The Tanners only trailed 39-31 heading into the final quarter, but English’s smothering press was too much to handle.
“If the kids can walk away from this knowing that we were in it,” Heil said. “The score doesn’t that we were in it, though. There were some really bright spots. We just need to have a bright 32 minutes.”
The 29 turnovers did Peabody in, though. The Tanners struggled on the offensive boards, which gave English easy breakout opportunities.
“We’d get the momentum back, but when we do, we need to hold it,” said Heil. “We can’t keep spotting them 10 points, like the Patriots do. You can’t do that because at some point it’s going to come back and bite you.”
Scacchi was huge under the glass for the Tanners, earning herself a double-double with 16 rebounds to go along with her team-high 13 points. Bua finished the night with eight points, while Hosman added five rebounds, a pair of assists and three points.
English’s Deidra Newson led all players with 17 points and Catherine Stinson added 12 for the Bulldogs.