THE MELROSE High girls hoop team is hoping to pick up a win this week. Pictured is senior captain Ella Brennan. (Jennifer Gentile photo)


Toughest competition to start season



MELROSE—For the 2021-22 Melrose High girls basketball team, this season is definitely one of change and they’ve been faced with challenges in their young season. With 4 of 5 new starters on the floor and lots of new underclassmen in the mix, Melrose is trying to find their footing in their opening week. They’re also embarking on their toughest stretch of the season right out of the gate, which sees Melrose at 0-3 but with plenty of season ahead and with the team having shown moments of promise on the court.

Melrose traveled to Wakefield on Friday to face the undefeated Warriors, a 3-0 team that has serious legs for a long post-season stretch. Thus, Melrose faced an uphill battle but kept things tight in the first period behind baskets from sophomore Lily Nolan and junior Megan Casey to keep Melrose competitive at 12-8 at the end of the first. Turnovers hurt Melrose in the second (and throughout the game) while Wakefield’s Emma Shinney and Ashlee Purcell continued to wreak havoc, stretching out a 22-9 lead as Melrose struggled against their press. After halftime, Melrose saw baskets from Lily Nolan and Ava Tormo and a three from Megan Casey that kept the game 34-19. Sofia Smith and Gia Vlajkovic would score to close out the third but Wakefield’s endless supply of power players continued to make life hard and they were down 43-25 at the end of the third. Melrose saw some quality defense from Elaine Albuja, Lily Kavanaugh and Ava Burns in the fourth while Ella Brennan and Lily Nolan both hit two foul shots to close the gap, but in the end, it was a 57-32 loss.

Melrose played better against Woburn on Monday, Dec 20 at home, but the Tanners (an expected powerhouse this year) took victory, 47-31. Melrose came out fairly even in the first quarter behind the work of Sofia Smith and Ella Brennan, who hit a trey. Woburn’s Cyndeah Labissiere was relentless and helped the Tanners take a larger lead, though a Lily Kavanaugh three-pointer on an assist by Chloe Gentile had Melrose fans on their feet. Melrose would hit another three on a Sofia Smith shot and newcomer Scarlett D’Addio impressed on the foul line with two shots. Melrose chipped away on the foul line behind Lily Kavanaugh, Chloe Gentile and Sofia Smith but Melrose couldn’t find their offensive rhythm. In the closing quarter, Melrose saw quality work from Ava Burns, Ella Brennan and Elaine Albuja but would ultimately fall 47-31.

Melrose looks forward to facing Burlington (0-3) on Wednesday (post-deadline) as they look to get in the winning column. Beyond that, as they close out 2021, they will host Malden on Dec. 28 at 3:00 p.m.