NEWTON, Mass. -- The last time Newton North squared off against Braintree, it suffered a big blow when Briana Hunt, one of the best players in the state, left the game with a concussion.
Hunt has missed the last 10 games, but her teammates were able to land a counter blow in her honor as the Tigers (7-4) handed the Wamps (12-1) their first loss of the season with a 49-40 win on Friday night, at Reggie Smith Gymnasium.
“They are at the top of the conference and that’s where we want to be,” Tigers head coach Hank DeSantis said. “We’ve had a ton of injuries. We are getting (Hunt) back on Monday, so hopefully this is the beginning of a lot of good things.”
Djaidah Wynn, who didn’t play in the first game against Braintree, went 3-for-6 from deep and led the Tigers with 23 points. She also played disrupting defense on the perimeter with five steals on the night.
“That’s the best she’s played all year,” DeSantis said. “She came to the party and did some really nice things tonight.”
Taylor Russell’s (10 points, 10 rebounds) put-back to begin the third quarter gave the Wamps a 25-19 lead, but that would be the last bucket of the quarter for Braintree. Wynn’s corner 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 26-25 lead, and Kayla Farina’s four points helped spark a 12-0 run for the remainder of the quarter.
Russell finally ended the scoreless streak 1:08 into the fourth and the Wamps would pull to within four when Amanda McKenney carved through the paint and scored her left-handed layup off the glass. Megan Gentile gathered the ball on a scrambled possession and put it in with four seconds remaining on the shot clock to push the Tiger lead back to six.
McKenney would have a chance for a 3-point play after she stole the ball at halfcourt and went in for the lay-in, but her free throw rimmed out. On the next possession, Gentile would come up big again on the inside with an offensive rebound in traffic, and a lay-in for the 45-39 lead with 52.1 seconds remaining.
“I just read it off the basket right and I was able to get it back up,” said Gentile, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
Wynn, who got dinged up in crunch time and missed two crucial minutes near the end of the game, would gather herself at the line and finish if off with two clutch free throws.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe,” Wynn said. “But my coach needed me and my team needed me.”
The Wamps came in to the game outscoring their opponents by an average of 17 points. They got off to a 8-0 start in this game, but Wynn and Jaimie Renner’s full-court press got the Tigers back in the game, 10-8.
Braintree held a 33-25 advantage on the boards and kept themselves in the game with 13 offensive rebounds, but the 12-0 run in the third where they went ice cold is one of the main reasons why they now have a blemish on their record.
“I just think some shots weren’t falling and momentum switched sides,” Wamps head coach Kristen McDonnell said. “We weren’t able to do some of the little things in the second half that we did in the first.”