ARLINGTON, Mass. -– After the first four games of the season, No. 2 Archbishop Williams was 4-0 and outscoring opponents, 259-102. But playing just four games well over a month into the season because of the weather may have caught up to them as they were upset by Arlington Catholic (5-2), 34-27 Thursday night in a game controlled on the defensive end.
“I think the purists want to see beautiful basketball being played, and I think it was two teams that played really smart, intelligent defense and both teams rebounded fundamentally well,” said long-time Arlington Catholic head coach Dave Brady. “I think we’re all in the same dilemma this year. I don’t think the basketball is going to be all that pretty. Thank God for the elements, we finally practiced before a game. I think everyone is running into snow problems.”
With the Cougars clinging to a three-point lead with 2:30 remaining in the game, they needed a clutch basket -- something they hadn’t gotten to that point as they had scored just six points in the second half. That was where junior guard Melissa Rogers came through with a full-court layup with 1:55 left, beating the Archie’s press for an easy hoop and allowing the home crowd to breath a sigh of relief.
Less than a minute later, following a defensive stop, junior guard Emma Lutz nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key, extending AC’s lead to 32-24 and virtually sealing the win.
“I think Melissa’s layup, we were backing off a little bit and we were talking about playing not to loose and getting aggressive again,” Brady said. “Melissa did it and she actually had another chance at one that got blocked. She got aggressive and got a second wind.
“The Emma one was brilliant....I think the girl went under the screen and Emma got a good look at the shot and we want that from Emma. I wish I could hit layups the way she hits three’s, she has a sweet stroke.”
Rogers, Lutz and sophomore forward Demi Fogerty led the way for the Cougars, finishing with ten points apiece with both Lutz and Rogers hitting two three-pointers.
It appeared the home team was going to run away with the upset, as they limited Archie’s to just two second quarter points and led 21-8 at the half. But the Bishops wouldn’t go down without a fight, as they forced 14 second half turnovers and went on a 13-2 run of their own spanning from the end of the third quarter to Rogers’ layup with just under two minutes left in the game.
“I think both teams got tired and the basketball got ugly,” said Brady.
Sophomore guard Victoria Dean paced Archie’s with 10 points in the loss.
By nature some teams will have games circled on their calendar before the season and with the success Archie’s has had of late, this could have been one of those games for AC, but that isn’t in Brady’s blood.
“No, I’ve been doing this for 18 years. I just decided we’re going to put a bull’s-eye on everyone’s back, it doesn’t matter who it is,” said Brady. “With our attitude it is whatever team we’re playing that day has a bull’s-eye on their back. You just have to look forward to the next game, so I don’t look forward to any one particular game ahead.”
For Archie’s, they might already be circling Feb. 4 as they will be seeking revenge on the team that handed them their first loss of the season.
Doing the dirty work: In a game where they limited Archie’s to just eight first half points and 27 points overall, there are going to be some unsung hero’s on the defensive end of the court. Along with Fogarty, senior forward Presley Silva controlled the glass, limiting Archie’s to just one shot on most of their possessions.
As a unit they were also able to keep Archie’s junior star Alana Gilmer to just seven points as they played good help defense, not letting her to get inside the paint. They also limited Southern New Hampshire bound guard Olivia Conrad to just a free throw as their tremendous defense was what led them to the win.