The Oliver Ames girls' basketball team started hot and finished strong Friday night during the championship game of the Annual Sue Rivard Tournament.
The accelerated start and finish were enough to down Hopkinton, 57-38 and take the tournament crown. The win comes on the heels of a first round victory over Lake Region, Maine Thursday night. The two wins improved OA's record to 5-0.
"I initially thought coming into this and splitting I would have been happy," Oliver Ames Coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook said. "I knew these were the two best teams in the tournament we wanted good competition and we wanted to play hard, good teams. We got more than we hoped for in that so I was really happy about this."
The Tigers got out to an early 8-0 lead Friday night. Thanks in part to three first quarter 3-pointers from senior captain Caitlyn Abela, the Tigers led after the first period of play, 24-10.
Abela finished the game with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. While the senior captain has added a more emphasized low-post game this season, she proved Friday that she hasn't forgotten how to shoot.
"She needs to be able to recognize what the defense is giving her," Clement-Holbrook said. "Because she’s added that element in her ability to score inside, now she has got to get a better feel for when it’s time to look inside and when it’s time to go outside. It’s going to come with more playing knowing what the defense is giving her."
Abela, who was named as the tournament Most Valuable Player was complimented by point guard Asia Mitchell, who was named to the all-tournament team. Mitchell facilitated the offense against a stifling Hopkinton defense.
Junior Michaela Lievi, who finished the game with 14 points. Junior Emma Williams added 7 points and Kate Holleran added 6 points.
"[Lievi] uses her quickness and gets out in a hurry," Clement-Holbrook said. "She has a real nice touch under the basket. She’s developing into a very good rebounder as well and that’s what we really need her to do. This is her first year on the varsity. She and Emma [Williams] – they’re only going to get better. They’re great kids and they really work hard."
While OA got out to a hot start, they were outscored by Hopkinton 24-20 in the second and third quarters. The Tigers never trailed, though, and went on a 13-4 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
"One thing about this team that I really admire is it’s a characteristic we’ve seen pretty consistently this year is even though some teams make runs, we never seem to push the panic button," Clement-Holbrook said. "We stay poised, we never seem to lose our cool and we ourselves go on a run. I think the more important run was in the fourth quarter.
"We could feel Hopkinton coming back. We kind of put a stop to it, so that made me kind of happy."
After playing two games in two nights, Clement-Holbrook said the undefeated Tigers will get some well-needed rest before next Friday's game at Mansfield.