Published January 13, 2021
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WATERTOWN — The Wakefield High girls’ basketball team couldn’t get comfortable on the road in their second game of the season Saturday against Watertown.
The Raiders and Warriors played to a defensive struggle for most of the day, combining for 40 points through three quarters. The Warriors closed a 23-17 deficit with a strong fourth and tied the game up at 30 before the Raider defense finished by forcing more turnovers and ended the game at the free throw line for a 34-30 win over Wakefield.
“It was a really frustrating game,” admitted Wakefield head coach Jason Pavey. “We never got into any rhythm at all offensively. We are a team that wants to get up and down the court. In order to do that, we need to secure the ball on the defensive end. Even when we stopped Watertown from scoring, it was rarely a ‘live’ possession. Everything ended with a jump ball, foul, or out-of-bounds play. That allowed Watertown to set their defense up and we struggled to knock down shots.”
The Warriors can hopefully carry over the success they found at the end of the game. Trailing 30-18 with three minutes left and Watertown’s multiple different defensive looks continuing to force turnovers, Wakefield finally broke through for a 12-0 run to tie it with 40 seconds left.
Senior captain Clara Butler, who led the Warriors with 14 points, hit two of her four 3-pointers from the same right corner spot to first pull within three and then tie it up.
Junior Sophie Brown started the run with an and-one to make it 30-21. A 3 from Mia Forti off a pass from fellow sophomore Emma Shinney made it 30-24 and Wakefield’s full court press got it’s chance to set up and speed up Watertown’s guards to force turnovers and quick shots.
Butler’s first 3 of the frame came on an assist from junior Ashlee Purcell. Her second 3 was an open look and a result from excellent ball movement, starting with senior captain Brianna Lotti on the left wing and swung across to Purcell, to Shinney and finally to an open Butler. Watertown eventually went up by two after free throws and Wakefield turned it over in a key moment, eventually sending the Raiders back to the line to ice it.
“We started to heat up in the 4th quarter and Clara Butler was our lone bright spot on offense, but as a whole, it was too little, too late,” said Pavey.
Wakefield won the first quarter, 9-7. Shinney hit a contested 3 to get Wakefield on the board and Purcell later scored through a foul after a steal from a Watertown out-of-bounds play. Butler’s first 3 made it 8-4.
The two teams continued to battled in another hard fought second quarter, a Butler second chance bucket and a Purcell 3 from the top of the key making it 14-9 before Watertown finished strong to make it 14-13.
The third quarter doomed the Warriors as the home team won it 10-3 while Wakefield, as Pavey said, couldn’t find many clean looks which started on the defensive end. Wakefield won’t match anybody with height this season, making their transition game key, but the Warriors couldn’t find those chances on Saturday.
“We need to be more physical on the boards and it will be a point of emphasis this week in practice,” said Pavey.
The Warriors (1-1) will play a strong Wilmington team on the road this Saturday at 11 a.m.