Published in the January 18, 2017 edition


LYNNFIELD — Despite a loss Jan. 10 at the hands of a spry Hamilton-Wenham team, the Lynnfield girls’ basketball team may have discovered an identity that will help them moving forward.

The game went to the Generals, 54-35, and the Pioneers trailed 20-5 after one quarter of play at Lynnfield High School. Early, the Generals jumped out to a hot start, with junior guard Jacqueline Fibb draining three 3-pointers in the first. But after weathering that storm, the Pioneers started making their presence known, especially on the defensive side.

Junior guard Juliana Passatempo started locking down the perimeter, buzzing all over the place, bothering shooters and collecting steals. But senior captain Shannon Furey set the tone defensively. Her physical play led to six blocks and several tough rebounds down low. While she didn’t score, her energy on defense spurred the Pioneers into a more aggressive mindset.

“We’re making strides here,” said Pioneers head coach Jim Perry. “Our press worked. We got steals. We looked more aggressive. Our captain, number 11 (Furey) grabbed an unbelievable amount of rebounds. She left it on the court.”

It was apparent the Pioneers made strides despite the loss. The defense tightened up; the players, while struggling with turnovers and creating good passing lanes early on, started taking the initiative to drive to the basket and create easier scoring opportunities.

Junior captain Elizabeth Shaievitz had 10 free throw attempts by herself and was the leading scorer for Lynnfield with 16 of their 33 points. A guard, she was particularly physical, getting into the lane on many occasions and beating taller Hamiton-Wenham opponents. If she wasn’t scoring she was diving for loose balls or snatching a tough rebound down low. Her 3-point buzzer beater to end the first quarter was a highlight.

It was a good night for all three captains as Passatempo poured in 10 points of her own and looked every bit the evasive point guard she’s tasked to be, consistently finding teammates for good looks at the basket.

Hamilton-Wenham plays an uptempo style. If you watch professional basketball today, it’s all long-range threes and layups, with a push-the-ball mentality. The Generals mostly stuck to that mantra, making five from beyond the mark, but took a lot more. Lynnfield, though, remained hard-nosed, accruing 25 fouls in the game.

And in a smaller victory, the Pioneers, after falling behind by 15 in the first quarter, stuck with the Generals the rest of the way, and got as close to 34-30 in favor of the Generals.

“This is one of the highest scoring performances we’ve had against a pretty decent team. I think we held our own for the most part,” said Perry. “So, I’m happy.”

Downed by Indians

The Lady Pioneers suffered a tough loss on Friday, Jan. 13 at the hands of the undefeated Amesbury Indians, 82-32, on the road.

“One great quarter is all we played,” offered Perry. “We were down 17-11 after one quarter, but we were in it. But they’re a tough team. They got a lot of great athletes.”

Lynnfield will not see them again this season.