By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — Right from the opening tip off Bishop Fenwick took complete control, scoring 15 unanswered points before Lowell Catholic got on the board with just over a minute remaining in the opening quarter.
Crusaders coach Adam DeBaggis started substituting early and often, giving all his young players a chance to get some quality playing time in a game they went on to win 44-14.
By halftime Fenwick had built up a 17 point cushion, 24-7 and the starters sat on the bench the rest of the game.
Lowell Catholic is a Division 4 team, but coach Tom Varnum loves to schedule teams like Fenwick to get his players ready for the state tournament.
“Fenwick is a bigger school than us, and they play in a much tougher division,” said Varnum after his team dropped to 3-3. “That’s why we schedule these games every year; we need to play stronger competition to get ready for the state tournament.
“That’s a very good team we faced, and they are also very physical and well coached. That’s what my girls need, and I liked the effort they gave all game. We didn’t shoot well, but holding them under 50 points was one of our goals. We need to get more aggressive, especially against aggressive but clean teams like Fenwick. We’re small, and we have to work on that. I liked the way my team got more confident as the game went on. The girls never quit, and we’re going to play a lot better after going up against a team like that.”
Three players led Fenwick with six points apiece, and 13 different girls figured in the scoring. Kelsey Wilkinson, Colleen Corcoran, and Sydney Brennan all had six points. Corcoran and Brennan are both freshmen, who came off the bench to contribute.
Brennan hit two treys in the third quarter while Corcoran was a force in the middle with six blocked shots. Melissa MacKenzie, another ninth grader, had three points.
“We used everybody which was nice,” said DeBaggis after his Crusaders improved to 6-2 on the season. “I don’t know if a game like this is going to help us get ready for St. Mary’s (on Monday), but it’s good to give the starters a long rest. They got mentally prepared for the game, but then got some rest which is good.
“We have some really good freshmen, and they are starting to play well at a higher level and have some confidence. Brennan has great control for a freshman, and she hit those two big bombs. Corcoran is tall, very aggressive, and fast. She’s not afraid to mix it up in the middle, and it was great to see her block those shots.”
Fenwick is always tough in its bandbox gym and dominated play right from the start with excellent defense and full court pressure that caused turnovers. That stifling defense was especially good in the third quarter when a combination of mostly freshmen and sophomores held the visitors to just one point. Corcoran grabbed a rebound and put it in, and then hit a buzzer beating layup to put her team ahead by 29 heading into the final frame.
“We have a good core, and a lot of good looking freshmen,” said DeBaggis. “Our JV team (51-33 winners) is mostly freshmen. They’re well coached, and they really get it. I think the next few years are going to be very exciting for us.
“Now we’ve got to get ready for St. Mary’s which is a big one for us. They’re undefeated, and we know we have to play our best to beat them.”