PEABODY— The Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team qualified for the postseason last week and continued it’s upward success last night with a conference win over Austin Prep, 67-37.
The host Crusaders didn’t quite have that same pep in their step at the beginning of the contest, but after head coach Adam DeBaggis called a timeout, they went on 10-0 run and came out on top after the first quarter.
”We just came out flat,” said DeBaggis. “I called a timeout and I just reminded them that we can play good all of the time. We’re are a very tough, aggressive team and defense is always going to be there for us. Lately we’ve been communicating well on defense and playing hard— that’s all you need to do and everything else falls into place.”
It was less about scoring baskets last night and more about getting those stops, which in turn transitioned into a quality scoring rhythm for the Crusaders (11-6). They built off that early success and held winless Austin Prep to just five points in the first quarter.
By halftime Fenwick was up 39-19, thanks to junior Chandler Wilder who scored all 13 of her points in the opening half. Wilder, who dropped in three 3-pointers, also added five steals for the Crusaders.
”She can shoot and knows how to score,” DeBaggis said of Wilder. “Chandler really knows how to get open, especially against a zone defense. When she gets the open looks against zone, she just hits those shots.”
Lexie Rose took over off the bench in the second half and recorded a dozen points driving hard to the basket and made key defensive plays down the stretch.
”Lexie was hurt for a while and as a result hasn’t played much,” said DeBaggis. “She’s been really motivated the last couple of days to get back involved. For a person that hasn’t played as much, she’s trying to prove that she should be and that’s great to see.”
Point guard Gianna Pizzano contributed with eight points and a had a team-high six assists and also added three steals. Pizzano read the Cougars’ offense well and got her lane in almost every passing lane on the defensive end. The junior starter is another player working her way back from injury and has recently begun to log her normal minutes.
The real test for the Crusders comes next Tuesday against their conference rival St. Mary’s. Earlier in the season the Spartans dealt Fenwick a 62-40 loss on the road and the Crusaders are hoping to return the favor this time around.
”I think we needed a game like this heading into next week,” DeBaggis added. “We have St. Mary’s next and we can’t go into that game, having played poorly in the game before. We’re just trying to focus on what we’re doing and play our game.
”It’s really hard to prepare for them, because you can’t simulate the type of defense they play in practice. My job is to get the girls mentally prepared and practice as much as possible. If we play our best basketball, I think we can beat them.”