(Video courtesy of Lucas Shapiro)
BOSTON — Brian Buckley probably stated it best after his Scituate girls basketball team battled with Reading in a clash between two teams with a combined 47-0 coming into the TD Garden.
His words were simple and straight to the point.
“It’s a shame somebody had to lose,” he said.
It was probably a sentiment felt throughout the building, but in a fight for a chance to play in the state championship at the DCU Center the Rockets (24-0) were the ones that escaped unscathed with a 71-64 victory in overtime in the Div. 2 state semifinals.
The game had a little big of everything. From drama, to big-time players making big plays when it mattered to those same players filling up the stat sheets at an impressive rate. Morgan O’Brien led all scorers with 33 points for the Rockets. Her teammate, Olivia Healy, was all over the place with 21 points, nine rebounds, eight steals and five assists.
The Sailors (24-1) were led by Shannon Brady and her monster 28-point, 17-rebound double-double.
“Maybe a year from now, maybe even a month from now, they will realize that they were in one of the greatest games we ever witnessed in girls basketball at the Garden,” said Buckley. “I’ve been coaching since 1974 and I have not been in a better game where we lost where I’m more proud of my team tonight.”
Reading coach Kim Penney agreed with Buckley’s sentiments.
“It was exciting, what a game,” she said.
Brady Extends It: Brady put up monster numbers in the game, but it was her play in the final moments that stood out the most.
O’Brien hit 1-of-2 from the line to give the Rockets a 59-57 lead, and the Sailors gobbled up the rebound on the second missed shot with 14 seconds on the clock. Kate Lemire, who came off the bench and was thrust into the point guard role, brought the ball up the court and found Annie Miller on the wing late.
The plan was to get Brady the ball in the post and let her do her thing. Reading also knew that too. With a couple of defenders draped all over her in the post, Brady rose and sent a right-handed hook shot into the hoop before the buzzer blew.
“We tried to get it inside to (Brady), especially at the end of the game,” said Buckley.
The result was discouraging for Penney, but she knew it wasn’t a lethal one.
“We were trying to double her the whole time in the halfcourt set,” said Penney. “We were going full court at the time and we didn’t have anyone fronting her at the time. They are a great team. They push the ball up the court so quickly. (Brady) hit the shot and we knew we didn’t lose, but we knew that we had to keep plugging and win the whole thing,”
O'Brien Steps Up: Healy is always the first name that comes up when the Reading girls basketball team comes up in conversation.
This time O’Brien decided to enter her name into that equation.
The junior stepped up in the second half when Healy was struggling with her offense to keep the Rockets close and ultimately help them get over the top. O’Brien scored 27 of her 33 points in the second half, and it was her persistence to get to the line that stood out in the final 20 minutes of play.
“The past few games I haven’t been taking it to the hoop a lot, because the other teams know that I’m a shooter and they were blanketing me,” said O’Brien, who was 12-of-17 from the stripe in the second half. “I knew I had to pick it up this game and I knew I could get to the hoop.”
O’Brien hit a jumper to take a 58-55 lead after Katharine Callahan kept the possession alive. She also scored six of the 12 points in the overtime session for the Rockets to run away from the Sailors.