By Gianna Addario
---- — HAMILTON — The Hamilton-Wenham girls basketball team is known to wear its opponents down in the fourth quarter.
The Generals’ relentless pressure on the ball and tight man-to-man coverage got the better of visiting Ipswich last night, as they topped the Tigers 44-28.
Despite a second half push by Ipswich (4-6), Hamilton-Wenham’s smothering defense forced 35 turnovers and put an end to the run down the stretch.
“A big thing for us is to try and maximize on those turnovers,” said Hamilton-Wenham head coach Jon DeMarco, who’s team won its fourth straight contest to improve to 8-3 on the season.
“We got some steals early on, but then we turned the ball back over and didn’t finish. I thought we did a much better job later in the game settling down on offense.”
The Generals jumped out to 17-6 lead in the first quarter and even maintained a nine-point lead (23-14) by the half.
Despite being down by double figures to start the fourth quarter, Ipswich fought back to within eight.
“It was never enough, we made too many mistakes,” said Ipswich coach Doug Woodworth. “They’re a good defensive team. It wasn’t anything we weren’t ready for, I think we just panicked in the beginning of the game. It was a game we wanted to win and the girls came out a little anxious and nervous.
“Hamilton-Wenham shot very well. Defensively, we were trying to clog the lane a bit, but they made the three’s and I give them credit.”
Senior captain Sam Charette hit layup with under four to play to push H-W’s lead back up to 10. On the next possession, the Generals got a steal and Charette took it to the basket for a three-point play to make it 40-27.
“I thought we were settling taking three-pointers. We were making them, but I wanted the girls to get to the basket,” added DeMarco. “Sam did a great job at getting there. It was a big momentum shift in the game for us.”
Charette finished with a double-double dropping in a game-high 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Generals. Fellow senior captains Catherine Ecker and Suz Rose (six rebounds, seven assists, five steals) both added eight points in the win, while Haley Willis contributed with seven.
Freshman Kelly Walsh came off the bench and made her presence known on defense, gathering five steals in the first half alone.
The Tigers were aggressive getting their shots off, but they weren’t falling for them. Bridget Curran scored a team-high nine points, while Jenna Gagnon added six.
Freshman Kelsey Daly has taken on the role of point guard this season after Masey Zegarowski made the move Brewster Academy.
Daly, who finished with three points, ran the point with efficiency given her age.
“She’s going to be a good player,” noted Woodworth. “We’ve asked a lot of her. It’s hard to run the point at the varsity level as a freshman. Coming from a middle school program to being the starting point guard, she does a good job. She’s a very competitive girl and this type of game is only going to make her better.
Hamilton-Wenham held Ipswich to only six points in the final quarter, including two jumpers. The Tigers were also undersized compared to the height the Generals have, which led to many more rebounds for Hamilton-Wenham.
“We talked about not allowing them any second shots, which meant we needed to box out and limit the turnovers,” explained Woodworth. “We didn’t do either one of those things and that cost us. We battled back, but we don’t have enough offensive threats.”