Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pinkerton Girls Top Alvirne

Pinkerton and Alvirne are 2 similar, evenly matched teams. Both teams have lots of experience (4 seniors and 1 junior start for both teams). Both teams have standout senior point guards (Sandi Purcell for Alvirne and Kayla Stacy for Pinkerton). Neither team has much size, as both team's tallest player is only about 5-foot-10 (Brittany Lambert for Alvirne and Val Martin for Pinkerton) and both of those players are more suited for the wing than the post.

With so little separating these 2 squads it was a 10-2 run by Pinkerton in the 2nd quarter that turned out to be the difference. The run was led by Stacy, Martin and senior sharpshooter Colleen Fortier and it ended with the Astros leading 27-18 at halftime. That was Pinkerton's largest lead, and they want on to win 48-42.

"This was a quality win against a good team" said first-year head coach Lani Buskey, who had previously been the program's JV coach and assistant under John Barry. "John taught defense really well. I'm trying keep to the defensive heart that he brought but add some more speed."

Pinkerton played tough defense all game, especially in the 2nd quarter when they held Alvirne to just 4 points. Stacy did a nice job defensively containing Purcell who had 10 points but really had to work hard for them.

Offensively the Astros had a balanced scoring attack, with Fortier leading the team with 12 but all 5 starters (Fortier, Stacy, Martin, Brandi Bonneau and Corinne Moore) had at least 5 each. All 5 of them can shoot the basketball, all 5 of them can hurt you and they don't rely on just 1 or 2 of them.

"I'm lucky in that I have tremendous weapons" explained Coach Buskey. "What we're learning is the right weapon for each situation. That's where discipline comes in. We don't want to just shoot the three and be one dimensional."

Martin had back-to-back buckets to put PA up 9-2 in the 1st quarter. Her second bucket was a baseline 15-footer. Veronica Moceri (team-high 13 points) then hit a 2 pointer with a foot on the line followed by a 3. Stacy answered back with a 3 of her own to make it 14-9 Astros with 3:08 left in the quarter. Alvirne fought back, as Purcell pushed it hard up the floor and made a good dish to Moceri for a layup. Then Moceri hit another 3 (she had 10 of her 13 in the 1st quarter). It was 17-14 Pinkerton after 1.

Purcell made a nice move to start the 2nd quarter. She crossed up her defender with an in-and-out dribble drive move, getting to the rim and laying it in. That cut the lead to 17-16. That's when the Pinkerton run started. Fortier hit a 3 from the top of the key followed by a an offensive rebound and strong put-back by sophomore forward Sara McLeman. The run continued as Stacy played some very tough defense on Purcell, then on the other end made a strong drive and good finish in traffic. Then Fortier hit a pair of free throws and it was 27-18 Pinkerton.

"We got soft in the 2nd quarter" lamented Alvirne head coach Steve Tracy. "We gambled too much on defense."

The scoring picked up quite a bit in the 3rd quarter, as both teams started hitting shots from all over the place. Alvirne senior guard Tori Laroche hit a jumper with a foot on the 3-point line, then Martin answered with a long 2 of her own to push the lead back to 9 points, 29-20. Lambert then hit a runner in the lane, Moore answered with a long 2. The shots were falling, but no one was closing out on the shooters!

Then Alvirne made a mini-run, as Purcell stole the ball in the back court and hit a runner off the glass plus the foul. Again the Broncos pressed, got another steal and Purcell his another shot in the lane. The Pinkerton lead was now just 31-27 with 4:57 left in the 3rd.

Moore drilled a 3 ball vs. the Alvirne zone, but Purcell answered with another great move, pushing it hard up the floor, showing great quickness with the dribble, spinning in the lane and making a strong take. Lambert then hit a 3-pointer. Moore continued to play well, making a nice pass to Fortier for a layup. The Stacy grabbed a rebound off a missed shot by her younger sister Marissa and put it back in for 2. With the game again starting to slip away, Coach Tracy calls timeout with his squad trailing 40-32. Then Purcell makes another big play, going coast-to-coast and laying it in at the buzzer with a defender on her. It was 40-35 Pinkerton after 3.

The defenses tightened back up in the 4th. Alvirne put in freshman forward Melissa Sweeney, and she gave them a spark off the bench, grabbing boards. Jamie Caron and Bonneau both had strong finishes, and it as 44-37 Astros. Stacy continued to play good 'D', forcing a 5 second violation on Purcell. Moceri then drilled a big 3-pointer to keep Alvirne in it, cutting the lead to 44-40 with 4:00 left. Then Melissa Martel gave Pinkerton a spark off the bench, blocking a shot on one possession and taking a charge on the next. Fortier had a put-back, then Martin connected on a pull-up jumper, as PA was again pulling away up 48-40 with 1:25 left. They hung on from there for the 48-42 victory.

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