STONEHAM, Mass. -– To say that Reading played a flawless game on Tuesday night would only be a slight overstatement as the Rockets were clicking on all cylinders en route to a decisive 64-34 win over Stoneham.
Returning ESPN Boston Super Teamer Olivia Healy was nearly unstoppable on the night, leading the charge for the Rockets on both ends of the floor. Healy led all players with 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven steals, four assists and two blocks in just three quarters of play.
“Liv is so versatile for us,” Reading head coach Kim Penny said of Healy. “Depending on who we are paying she can run the point, as she is a great passer, and we like to have her post up as well. We like the ball running through her as much as we can.”
The Richmond-bound Healy was double and even triple-teamed at times, but her versatility allowed her to do damage from both the perimeter and on the block.
“I tried to go down low tonight to open up some of our shooters and to get better position for rebounds,” Healy said.
Reading (11-0) stormed out to a 17-6 lead in the first quarter, due in part to its aggressive man-to-man defense and a timely 2-1-2 full court trap.
“Our defense in the half court set looked pretty good tonight,” Reading head coach Kim Penny said after the game. “They were not getting too many second and third chances which was nice.”
Despite an aggressive opening half effort from Stoneham (6-6) and senior point guard Sam Trant, Reading extended its lead to 33-9 at the half. Reading’s defense held Stoneham to just three second-quarter points and dominated the rebounding margin 13-4 in the quarter.
“Our rebounding was better tonight than it has been,” Penney said. “We talked about it before the game, and said that the better rebounding team was going to have more chances and a better chance to win.”
The third quarter would prove to be Reading’s strongest offensive quarter as they scored 23 points to open up a 56-20 lead and cruise to the thirty point win.
Senior forward Meghan Stanford scored seven of her 11 points in the third and pulled down five of her game-high 13 rebounds in the quarter to lead the Rockets.
Trant led Stoneham in scoring on the night with 12 points to go with five rebounds. Stoneham also received a strong game in the post from sophomore forward Olivia Gaughran (eight points, five rebounds).
Key Improvements: Despite playing this season without Assumption signee and All-State guard Morgan O’Brien the Rockets are seeing some vast improvement from some of their key players.
“Without Morgan it is a little different,” Penney said. “I am really happy with the progress of all the girls and the bench is really stepping up as well.”
Junior Sarah Haase scored eight points and nailed two big 3-pointers from the wing.
“Sarah can shoot the ball from the outside this year,” Penney said. “We discovered that at the beginning of the season. It is nice now to know that if teams put a zone on us we have an outside presence there as well.”
Seniors Siobhan Sullivan and Katie Starble also had strong games as they brought important energy and intangibles to the team win. Sullivan had seven points while Starble faded our pints and three steals.
Junior Bridget Clements same off the bench for Reading to score seven points to go with three assists.
“They had a full front and box and one on me so that really opened up Sarah, Katie and Bridget from outside,” Healy said.
Hitting their stride: Reading is now 11-0 and Penney and Healey sees the improvements and chemistry that the Rockets will need in their quest for their second consecutive MIAA Division 2 state championship.
“The girls are coming along and I am really happy with the progress at this point in the season,” Penney said.
The combination of hard-nosed defense and understanding of roles is evident in the team’s success.
“We are together as a whole on defense,” Healy added. “We are talking a lot more and finding each other offensively and just playing a lot better together compared to what we were like in the beginning of the season.”