Whether you're in the Kelley-Rex "big school" division or the Davenport "small school" division, it is becoming clear that the Oliver Ames girls' basketball team is now the team to beat in the Hockomock League.
The undefeated Davenport leading Tigers defeated Kelley-Rex leading North Attleboro, 59-48 Tuesday night at the Nixon Gymnasium to improve to 9-0. The Red Rocketeers lost their second game of the season (and their first Hockomock League game) to drop to 8-2 overall.
"This was a bar fight in a good sense," Oliver Ames coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook said. "It wasn’t dirty, just both teams played hard right down to the wire so I’m really happy that we just hung in there and kept fighting."
Oliver Ames was led by strong defense and a well-rounded effort on offense that saw four players in double figures. Senior Caitlyn Abela led the Tigers with 18 points while fellow seniors Asia Mitchell contributed 10 points and Kristen Ellis contributed 6 points.
Clement-Holbrook was happy to see the supporting cast step up in a big way when other options were taken away. Juniors Michaela Lievi and Kate Holleran were instrumental in Tuesday's win with Lievi scoring 14 points and Holleran adding 10, including two big 3-pointers in the second half.
"They took a lot of things away from us but seemingly we were wise enough to take what the defense ultimately gave us," Clement-Holbrook said. "I thought that was a huge step. [Lievi] stpped up, and Holleran stepped up. People are going to try to take away Caitlyn and they’re going to try to take away from Asia what we normally like to do and I thought those kids really did a great job. They kept their composure."
While North Attleboro outplayed Oliver Ames in spurts, including jumping out to an early 14-7 lead, they were not able to outplay the Tigers for long segments of the game.
After the Red Rocketeers took an early lead, Oliver Ames went on a 14-0 run, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Tigers outscored North Attleboro in all periods except the fourth when North and OA both put 11 points on the board.
"I thought we matched their intensity, but not the whole game," North Attleboro coach John Del Bonis said. "We did it for periods of time but I thought they did it for longer periods of time – that was the difference. We got six and it seemed like we were working really hard and then they would get an offensive rebound and then it would break our back a little bit."
North Attleboro was led by senior Meg Ronaghan, who finished the game with 16 points. Junior Allie McHugh added 14 while sophomore Melissa Beaupre added 12.
"We had to earn all our baskets and we had to work really hard to score," Del Bonis said. "I give Oliver Ames a lot of credit. They play really good team defense and they deserved to win tonight."
Riding high, the Tigers will face their third difficult Hockomock League test in a row when they travel to Stoughton Friday night. With only two losses, the Black Knights sit at second in the Davenport Division.
"This stretch of Sharon, North and then at Stoughton on Friday.." Clement-Holbrook said. "These are the kinds of games where you see what you’re really made of."
So far, the unbeaten Tigers are passing the test.
"I think they’re starting to develop a team personality in terms of what some of the things are that they can do," Clement-Holbrook said. "I think they’re now starting to recognize what those things are - which is very helpful."