SOFIA SMITH (foreground) had 16 points against Wilmington last week during Melrose’s 55-51 loss. (Jennifer Gentile photo)
Team runs a-foul in 55-51 loss to Wildcats
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—It amounted to their best effort of their early season, but the Melrose High girls’ basketball team fell to Freedom rival Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 6 in a down-to-the-wire thriller, 55-51, at Wilmington High.
Melrose was led in scoring by junior Sofia Smith with 16 points and two assists, while freshman Scarlet D’Addio had eight points. Junior center Chloe Gentile was a nuisance under the net with over a dozen rebounds and several blocks. Collectively, Melrose produced their highest offensive output of the season and reversed a 51-42 deficit in the last five minutes of the game, thanks to hard press work by Melrose’s guards, including Smith who forced several steals over the game.
The Red Raiders were off to a quick start behind baskets from Smith, Scarlet D’Addio, Megan Casey and Chloe Gentile which gave them a 9-5 advantage after one. While Melrose shooting remained solid, ball control continued to be a weakness and Melrose would pay the price over the night with several turnovers, which helped Wilmington climb back in during the second quarter taking a lead of 16-14. Smith helped keep Melrose tight in the third, with a lay up and-one that had Melrose down 22-19 before senior captain Ella Brennan hit a shot to keep it very close 22-21, advantage Wilmington, at the half.
Ultimately what may have cost Melrose was the many trips to the foul line the Wildcats made successfully. Shooters such as Eva Boudreau, Jess Collins and Liz Spizavoco came up hot on the foul line in the 13 trips the teams made and they scored 20 points on them.
Melrose fired back dramatically in the fourth however, facing a deficit of 43-32 and they chipped away behind the work of Ella Brennan and Sofia Smith, and a full press that saw the Wildcats caught off guard, lose control of the ball and have it stolen from Smith for quick layups. Melrose really sparked to life with senior Ava Burns hitting two shots to keep Melrose alive 53-51 with less than a minute left. The reversal of fortune was thwarted by two foul line appearances from the Wildcats that tamed Melrose’s comeback effort and the Red Raiders took the loss at the buzzer, 55-51.
Officiating was questionable throughout the game, more so from a time out not given to Melrose in the waning seconds when called by Melrose head coach Bill Hirschfeld.
The good news is the two teams will meet up again next month, and in the meantime, Melrose will hunt for that elusive first victory on Friday night when they travel to Stoneham to face the Spartans at 6:00 p.m.