Peabody — It wasn’t the kind of opening night the Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team was hoping for, but playing one of the best Catholic Central League teams still provided a good early season measuring stick.
Last night the Crusaders fell to a powerful Archbishop Williams team, 43-27 at home.
Fenwick opened the game with three quick turnovers, but settled down and dropped in eight points in the first quarter, despite being down by five points. Though they were out rebounded by Williams, the Crusaders held the visiting team to 24 points at the half and dialed it up defensively.
“We can really play defense,” said Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis. “We just need to figure out how to score more. We’re playing dynamite defense, getting fast breaks, but we’re not putting the ball in the hoop. If we can add the scoring aspect, we’ll be able to play with anyone.
It was a mismatch in size, but what the Crusaders lacked in height they more than made up for with speed and fast break opportunities.
“At practice we’re really doing a lot of running drills. During games we’re playing girls that are 6-foot-2 and running against them is all we can do. We’re really trying to accentuate our positives and deal with our negatives the best we can,” said DeBaggis.
The Crusaders ran the floor well, but had a difficult time getting their shots to drop in. Williams was solid in the paint on the defensive end, which forced Fenwick to take more jumpers than DeBaggis would have liked.
“It’s nice to have the height,” said Williams coach Jim Bancroft. “Our girls can play inside and outside and they’re not afraid to put the ball to the floor.”
The Bishops got into foul trouble late in the first half and were forced to switch to zone coverage, which actually slowed down Fenwick’s fast break chances.
Senior captain Kate Lipka made a few nice outside shots and was also able to work her way into the paint a bit. Lipka, who dropped in nine points, was also one of Fenwick’s stronger rebounders of the night and played strong man-to-man coverage.
Junior Chandler Wilder also sparked the offense with her nine points off the bench. Wilder knocked down two back-to-back jumpers to bring the Crusaders within nine late in the third quarter.
“We’ve been trying to get Kate and Chandler open shots,” said DeBaggis. “Shooting in rhythm is hard, but if we can master that we’re going to be good. If the two of them can score consistently, with Chandler off the bench — it’s a good asset to have.”
Rose Fantozzi drove to the basket a few times, but scored all five of her points from the foul line.
The Crusaders are right back in league play on Friday as they travel to Cardinal Spellman. DeBaggis said the girls have a tough opening schedule ahead of them, but if they can go 4-1 or even 3-2 in the first five games, they’ll be in good shape going forward.