Salem cut the deficit to 10 midway through the fourth, but the Tanners were able to hold off the push down the stretch.
“Salem is right there, every time I though we’d put them away with 15 or 16 point lead, they’d cut it to eight,” said Heil. “They never went away.”
Brianna Rodriguez, who scored a team-high 14 points for the Witches, played aggressive to ball and read the defense well. Anytime she could get a hand in the passing lane, she did.
“Brianna just has an incredible motor and is very intense,” said Fortunato. “She’s such a dream kid to coach. She’s like a sponge and wants to continue to learn. She always the first one in the gym to start work and you love kids with that heart.”
Senior Olivia Summit (four assists) and junior Danielle Sullivan each added eight points for the Tanners, while Sara Hosman (five assists) and Courtney Bua both scored six in the win.
Heil also noted the defensive play of senior captain Alex Lomasney (four points). Every time Lomasney went to the bench, Salem went on their scoring runs.
“Of course Alex is just so quick and long for us,” Heil said. “We got help from different places too. The girls were ready when they got the call. They know what they have to do. I still want us to put together 32 minutes of defense. I want the girls to stay hungry.”
Panneton finished with eight points, while Sadoway and Hannah Van de Stadt each notched five for the Witches.
“As I told the girls, it’s tough to lose. But this is as good as you’re going to feel after a loss,” noted Fortunato. “The girls showed something to me about their character and about never giving up. I was just very, very proud of their efforts. Even as a coach I told them there were some things that I could do to help them clean up parts of their game.”