BOSTON -– Archbishop Williams moved into sole possession of first place in the Catholic Central Large as they defeated league rival St. Mary’s of Lynn 59-40 at Emmanuel College on Saturday night.
Defense and rebounding proved to be the key factors in the second half as the Bishops attacked the offensive glass and used a menacing full-court press to extend the lead in the latter part of the game.
“Our offense is not really clicking as well as it should,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said after the game. “We are relying on getting some easy hoops off of steals and off of our pressure.”
Leading 28-20 at the half, Archies (6-3) used their full-court press to give St. Mary’s (8-1) trouble and force multiple turnovers. The Bishops outscored St. Mary’s 17-6 in the third to take a commanding 45-26 to the final quarter of play.
The 1-2-1-1 full-court press has become a major asset for the Bishops, who use the pressure defense to their advantage in their confined home-court gym in Braintree.
“It works good in our gym, and in the Catholic Central League a lot of the gyms are real small, so our zone press works really well,” Bancroft said. “Coming in here I was not t sure. We tried it in New Jersey on a couple of bigger courts and struggled with it, but we worked on it in practice and I thought they did a good job.”
The Bishops also controlled the paint and the glass as sophomore forward Alana Gilmer (15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), junior forward Olivia Conrad (nine points) and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Jaylen Williams (four points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made it difficult for St. Mary’s to earn anything close to the basket.
“We are taller than most teams so we are starting to get used it,” Gilmer said. “We have really worked on getting a body on our player and then go for the ball.”
The Bishops also received strong efforts from their starting backcourt of senior shooting guard Sara Ryan (10 points, five assists) and junior point guard Leah Spencer (nine points, four steals).
St. Mary’s was led by junior point guard Sharell Sanders, who scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the opening half. The diminutive guard was even more impressive on the glass as she pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with six steals.
Junior guard Jennie Mucciarone (eight points, four steals) and senior Emily Doyle (seven points) both had strong fourth quarters for St. Mary’s.
Early Season Victories: Despite dropping all three out-of-state contests to Blair Academy (N.J.), Nazareth (N.Y.), and La Salle Academy (R.I.), the Bishops have picked up pivotal early season league wins.
On Tuesday night, Archies defeated Arlington Catholic, 60-41, and are now 5-0 in Catholic Central Large play after tonight’s win.
“All of these early wins are very important for us,” Gilmer added. “We want to be number one in the league and these games help us with our goal.”
Match-up Nightmare: The 6-foot Gilmer proved that she has the complete offensive package as she scored from inside the paint and also from the perimeter. Her versatility and athleticism create a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.
One of the premier players in the Class of 2015, Gilmer showed why she has Division 1 suitors in hot pursuit as her improved game and vast skill sets are unique in Massachusetts’ girls basketball scene.
“Up through her freshman year in high school everyone played her as a post player,” Bancroft added. “Last year we turned her around and faced her up and that is where she is going to end up playing at in college. She has become stronger and her foot speed is better now. Her ability to face-up along with her ability to play with her back to the basket makes her tough to cover.”