BOSTON -- The Division 2 South sectional final between No. 2 Medfield and No. 4 Duxbury lived up to it’s billing on Saturday afternoon as a competitive defensive battle.
Medfield (23-1) overcame a six-point fourth quarter deficit and defeated Duxbury 47-43 to claim the D2 South sectional crown. The win sets up a date with D2 North champion Reading on Monday at the TD Garden.
Trailing for most of the game in a tight, defensively fueled contest, Medfield never deviated from their game plan of aggressive full court pressure and half court trapping defense.
The persistence paid off as Medfield forced multiple turnovers in the final stages of the game and converted 14-of-19 free throws in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
“Finally getting a little pressure going and getting some turnovers, that was the difference,” Medfield head coach Mark Nickerson said. “Plus, Payton (Ouimette) and Delaney (Lawson) hitting those huge foul shots at the end, game on the line, those girls coming in and knocking them down, calm as can be, was pretty impressive.”
In a tightly officiated game both Medfield and Duxbury (21-3) battled foul trouble throughout. Both squads found themselves in the bonus at the end of the third quarter and in the double bonus with 4:20 remaining in the game.
“It was really hard with all the stops in the game,” Medfield junior point guard Lauren Petit said of the lack of game flow. “It is a mental game though and we just had to stay in it and stay focused.”
Both teams struggled all afternoon to find any offensive rhythm, as neither team seemed to be able to solve their counterpart’s defensive schemes.
Duxbury led 9-6 after one quarter and 17-15 at the half as Duxbury center Michela North established herself on both ends of the court.
The third quarter would belong to the Tufts-bound North as she dominated on the block and scored 12 of her game-high 21 points in the quarter.
“We did everything we could at keeping North from killing us but she still did,” Nickerson said.
Trailing 34-28 heading into the final quarter Medfield ramped up their defensive intensity and capitalized in the full court defense when Duxbury sophomore point guard Madeline Foote fouled out with 3:20 remaining in the game.
“When she went out we really went into attack mode,” Petit said. “We ended up causing the big turnovers to help us come back and win the game.”
Petit (16 points, 12-of-14 Free Throws made, seven steals) would put Medfield on top for the first time in the second half as she drained two free throws to give Medfield a 42-41 lead with 51.1 seconds remaining in the game.
Medfield would not look back as they outscored Duxbury 19-9 in the final quarter of play. Medfield’s Lawson came up with one of the game’s biggest plays as she stole the ball, secured the possession, and converted both of her free throw attempts to help seal the win.
Iron Unkind: Both teams struggled from the perimeter on the day as there was only one 3-point basket made in the entire game.
Medfield’s Ouimette (nine points) hit the game’s lone trifecta with 6:36 remaining in the game. The timely shot narrowed Duxbury’s six-point lead to three at 36-33 and helped fuel the Medfield comeback.
“None of our shots were falling, we were getting blocked and we just had to create the contact,” Petit said. “We just had to stay smart and not make any dumb mistakes.”
Scheduling factor: Medfield has been knocking on the door the past couple of seasons and Nickerson knew that they had to go out and improve their nonleague schedule to prepare for the 2012-2013 campaign.
“We played some of the best teams in the state this year,” Nickerson said. “We played some tough opponents where in the past we have not done that. We stepped outside our schedule and it helped.”
Medfield played one of the most competitive schedules in the state defeating the likes of Westford Academy, Wellesley, Oliver Ames and La Salle Academy (RI) this season.