Late turnovers halt Raiders’ rally against Hawks
By Wayne E. Rivet
FRYEBURG — It appeared the Raiders had finally reached the top of the mountain when senior Mackenzie Buzzell went end-to-end for a layup to put Fryeburg up 31-30.
The clock, however, still had 4 minutes, 45 seconds left on it.
It proved Marshwood had plenty of time on its side to keep their perfect mark intact. With their defense forcing six turnovers, the Hawks (5-0) scored the game’s final nine points to pull past Fryeburg Academy 39-31 last Thursday night at Wadsworth Arena.
While Buzzell was clearly FA’s leader at both ends of the court with a game-high 16 points and 9 rebounds, Marshwood put forth a full team effort — 10 players scored (Miranda Montgomery with a high of 7 points), the Hawks turned the ball over just 9 times, and held an 11-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
Maybe the biggest key to Marshwood’s success was the Hawks’ ability to wear down the depleted Raiders, who were without one of their defensive stoppers and starter — Ali Fraize.
Fraize was a key cog in Fryeburg’s pressure-defense approach, but will be out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury, likely sustained during the fall soccer season.
“Ali — one of our best defenders — has a broken bone in her hip (and she is going to have surgery). She’s been playing through it. I can’t imagine playing with a broken hip,” FA Coach Sean Watson said. “So by playing some of our younger kids, we tried to make it as much as a half-court game as we could. We expended a lot of energy in the half-court game that we were gassed at the end.”
Fryeburg struggled offensively in the first quarter as the Hawks extended their defensive pressure, rarely giving FA shooters clean looks at the hoop. Freshman forward Kaylee Emery, who got the start in Fraize’s absence, showed few jitters, making a strong entry pass inside the paint to Makayla Cooper for a bucket and drawing a foul call with 24.2 seconds left in the quarter, converting one of two foul shots.
“They really mixed up their defenses — going from man to zone to a zone with a chaser running out at Mackenzie. We heard from other coaches that Marshwood would throw a lot at us, but until we see it in real time, it’s hard to prepare for it. It’s on us as coaches. We probably could have used our timeouts better (to go over how to attack their defenses), but with a depleted roster, we figured we needed those timeouts to rest people in the fourth quarter,” Coach Watson said.
Marshwood enjoyed a 10-5 lead after one thanks to outside shooting from Natalie Herbold and Kara Anderson, who each knocked down 3-pointers.
The Hawks pushed their lead to 11 in the second quarter, mainly by getting second shot chances as Lauren Cusson and Miranda Montgomery each hauled down two offensive rebounds, which resulted in points.
FA scored just two points over the first five minutes of the quarter before reserve Zoe Bodwell sank a jumpshot from the right foul-line elbow. Fellow reserve Tina LeBlanc scored off a breakaway layup, Bodwell added a putback and Buzzell converted two foul shots as the Raiders closed out the half with a 6-2 run to make it 20-15.
“The kids that came off the bench really gave us a spark. Zoe hit a couple of big shots. Tina hustled out at the top of the break. Sometimes, it is not about the number of minutes you play, but what you do during those minutes,” Coach Watson added. “They’ve come so far already, getting used to the speed of the game. We feel more comfortable with them now. They’re coming along. We started a freshman (Kaylee Emery) tonight, and she did really well.”
Making a few adjustments, the Raiders built some rhythm on the offensive end as center Nicole Bennett found Cooper and Emery inside for hoops as Fryeburg stayed with the Hawks.
Buzzell changed momentum with a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 26-24. Montgomery gave the Hawks a four-point lead by making two foul shots, but FA’s Kaylin Delaney scooped up an offensive rebound and scored to end the quarter with the Raiders down just two points.
Quiet from a scoring standpoint, Nicole Bennett finally got the Raiders even with a determined drive down the lane. After Marshwood regained the lead on a Jordyn Beers bank shot off the glass, FA made its move as Buzzell converted a free throw after a power move through two defenders and then a full-court jaunt for a layup and FA’s first lead since their opening score.
Unfortunately, the Raiders were unable to close out the Hawks.
“Our kids have poise, grit and determination. They worked hard, but over the final three minutes, I think we ran out of steam. They put forth so much effort at the end of the third and start of the fourth,” Coach Watson said. “Rarely do we give up the baseline penetration. You want to do the right thing, but when you’re tired, it’s hard to do it. They wanted to go, but their legs didn’t get them there in time. Maybe we could have subbed differently at times, but you hate to get kids out of the game when the second quarter might be the most important part of the game. You never know. We probably messed up, but we had a chance at the end.”
While disappointed about the missed chance to improve their record and tourney seeding, Coach Watson is pleased with his club’s steady improvement as FA heads into the Christmas break.
“We are really happy with how the team is developing. We knew these kids could compete. They shouldn’t hang their heads after this loss because this Marshwood team (5-0) is going to win 12 to 15 games. We were right in it. If we play our cards right and continue to do the right things, maybe we will see them again down the road (playoffs),” the coach said. “I am extremely happy with the way the kids compete. You can’t always measure progress strictly by wins. It’s a process. We talked about it in the locker room, how are we going to overcome adversity? It was a tough situation this afternoon when the kids got the news (about Ali). They battled like heck.”
Heal Watch: At 3-2, the Raiders are ranked fourth in Class A South.
Up next: The Raiders travel to Kennebunk (2-2) on Friday, and Cape Elizabeth (0-5) on Tuesday (Jan. 3).