Shooting Touch: No. 4 Medfield 71, Canberra (Australia) 35

MEDFORD, Mass. -– On Friday morning, in the opening game of the Shooting Touch Shootout at Tufts University, defending Division 2 champion Medfield used its high-pressure defense to cruise 71-35 over Canberra Academy of Australia.

Right from the opening tip, Medfield’s trapping, pressure defense caused the Flames problems and Canberra struggled to get into its offense. A layup by Ashleigh Evans gave the visitors a 4-3 lead, but the Warriors then went on a 20-2 run to close out the first quarter.

The run was highlighted by a trio of three-pointers by senior point guard Lauren Petit, who also added a pair of steals that led directly to layups. Petit finished the first quarter with 15 points on her way to a game-high 23.

Medfield head coach Mark Nickerson raved about his captain and her influence on the Warriors on both ends of the court.

“She’s so solid out there and she’s so strong with the basketball,” he explained. “For anyone that’s watching and paying attention, they know how important she is to us. I’ve said it for the past few years that I believe she’s one of the best players in the state. We’re just lucky to have her.”

The pressure continued into the second half, but Canberra started to get the ball underneath to forward Molly McPhee (13 points), who had three straight baskets in the middle of the quarter to cut the lead to 10 at 27-17.

The momentum was short-lived as, once again, Medfield clamped down on defense and went on a half-ending 19-3 run to essentially put the game away.

“It’s a lot different than how we play in Australia right now,” said Canberra head coach Gregory Evans, who noted that his team did not arrive from Australia until 8:30 last night.

He added, “A lot of the hands-on –- that’s a foul in Australia. It’s different rules and we sort of warned them about the physical side of things. I think we’ll get better as our trip goes.”

Nickerson remarked, “Our trapping defense took them out of it a little bit. I don’t know if they had seen it before or we just executed pretty well today.”

In addition to Petit, Medfield also got double digit scoring from senior forward Kristin Fechtelkotter (19 points) and junior forward Payton Ouimette (12). Most of the baskets came on transition opportunities off the pressure defense –- something that Nickerson noted was a focus of recent practices.

He explained, “That’s again something that we’ve been trying to focus on a little bit – moving the ball up quickly and try to see how few times the ball hits the court on the way up the floor. We got a few transition baskets, we also missed a few, but it was all good.”

Leading 46-20 at the half, Medfield did not let up in the third as it held the Flames to just four points in the quarter. Fechtelkotter added six points and Ouimette and Petit had four apiece in the third to build a 42-point advantage heading into the fourth, before sitting for the final quarter.

As the two teams gathered after the game for a photo to commemorate the trip and the rare opportunity to play a team from another country, Evans was upbeat about the game regardless of the result.

He commented, “It’s all about the experience. It’s just about getting here and playing. There’s a couple that are thinking of maybe later going to college here, so it’s an opportunity to look around. It’s great.”

Medfield will play its second game on Saturday afternoon against New Mission, while Canberra Academy will play Whittier Tech in the first game on Saturday morning.