Raiders girls bounce back from tough loss, beat Freeport and Biddeford

Raider Mackenzie splits the Biddeford defense for 2 points. (Rivet Photo)

Raider Mackenzie splits the Biddeford defense for 2 points. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — It seemed the Raiders had a little more zip in their passes Monday, and it paid off with quick scores in the paint.

Behind an aggressive defense and balanced scoring attack, Fryeburg Academy declawed the Biddeford Tigers 49-30 to notch their 11th win of the season.

FA broke open a 13-10 game with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter as point guard Julia Quinn threaded passes to Mackenzie Buzzell and Nicole Bennett for easy layups.

“I was really happy with the way we moved the basketball. I thought we did a better job with our shot selection. We really wanted to establish an inside presence on the offensive end and I believe we did that,” Raider Coach Sean Watson said.

That emphasis was very apparent in the opening minutes as the Raiders attacked the inside, scoring four straight hoops — two by Lexi L’Heureux-Carland who recorded a game-high 15 points. Working primarily in the paint, the Raiders were 6-of-10 in the first quarter.

“I don’t have the stat sheet in front of me, but I would be surprised if we didn’t have more assists tonight than we’ve had in any other game. We found the open person and the open person finished,” Coach Watson said.

Biddeford regrouped after a shaky start as they struggled against FA’s full court pressure, turning the ball over five times. The Tigers, however, also went to the rim and battled back to trail by just three.

FA had a chance to build a bigger lead, but also had five unforced turnovers and were just 1-of-4 from the foul line. The struggles at the charity stripe continued in the second with a 0-for-5 stint, but five inside scores and eight Biddeford turnovers resulted in a 25-16 FA advantage at the break. The Tigers were just 1-of-9 from the field.

Despite a steady rotation of players in and out of the lineup, the Raiders never lost their rhythm on offense. FA carved up the Tiger defense with a 9-2 run to open the third.

Up 41-25 entering the final period, the Raiders defense continued to stifle Biddeford, who went without a field goal over eight minutes (0-for-8), scoring just 5 points from the foul line.

For the Raiders, McKenna Gerchman chipped in 9 points, Julia Quinn 7, Mackenzie Buzzell 6, Nicole Bennett 4, Kaylin Delaney 4, Katherine Parker 2 and Sage Boivin had 2.

Rebounders: Boivin 6, Quinn 5, Gerchman 5, Bennett 4, Alexandria Fraize 3, L’Heureux-Carland 2, Delaney 2, Bridget Bailey 2, Makayla Cooper 1.

Rebounds: FA 29, BID 22

Free Throws: FA 4-17, BID 12-20

Turnovers: FA 16, BID 21

Field Goals: FA 21-49, BID 9-35

Victories over the Tigers and Freeport (51-41 led by Julia Quinn with 17 points, six assists and four steals; Lexi L’Heureux-Carland 12 points and 11 rebounds; and Mackenzie Buzzell 7 points, 4 steals and 3 assists) proved to be a nice bounce back after the Raiders suffered a disappointing 63-43 loss at Greely last week.

“We haven’t mentioned York or Greely. I see no reason to do so. Those games are in the past. We haven’t discussed wins or losses all season and we are not going to do that now,” Coach Watson said. “We have a game against Falmouth on Friday. We are only dealing with the process of getting better. With each practice and each game, we try to focus on improving. The players have done a great job of keeping that clarity of focus.”

One area that seemingly gets better and better is the Raiders’ reserves.

“Our bench has been really good all year. We have some bench players getting more minutes than starters a lot of the time. They have been a real key to our success. They have played to their strengths and have maintained a team first attitude,” Coach Watson said. “That is not an easy thing to do. We are now hitting the stretch run, where every team tightens their bench a bit. We are no different. The coaches have made a conscious effort to play a lot of kids in crunch time, game in doubt, situations. We want those players to feel comfortable in those situations and know that they can perform in those situations. However, from here on out, matchups, foul trouble, and game situations will dictate most of our substitution patterns. Sometimes, this can create issues with some teams. I think our kids will handle it well. They have all pledged to put the team first, second and third.”

Fans see the importance of a “deep” roster as the Raiders play their uptempo style at both ends of the court, which requires fresh legs, as well as capable fill-ins when teammates face foul trouble.

But, what Raider fans don’t see is just how important it is to possess a talented 11-player roster in regards to overall development of the team.

“The luxury of having a good bench is nice in games, but it is undoubtedly more important to the overall development of the team. The real value of quality bench players is in practice. We have really competitive practices and that can’t happen without quality players one through 11,” the coach said. “When (assistant coaches) Coreen (Eccleston) and Chris (Dutton) do skill work and position work all of the players must really compete. The importance of that day in, day out, competition can’t be overstated. While the bench players may get fewer game minutes as we move forward, their contributions are no less important. Without their contributions we will suffer.”

As the Raiders head toward the tail end of the regular season, Coach Watson and his staff will continue to fine tune the defense and continue to emphasis the team passing approach and patience to seek out good shots.

“I think we have played our style throughout the season — the one exception being York. We didn’t press as much at York as we were undermanned with kids with illness, injuries, and family commitments. In both of our losses, we had plenty of open looks. There are going to be times when shots don’t fall. So be it. Once the ball is out of the shooters’ hands, the shooters no longer control it. We have only been concerned with the process of getting good shots and not the results. We are going to continue with that approach,” the coach said.

Up next: The Raiders travel to Falmouth this Friday, head to Wells on Monday, and host Lake Region on Friday, Jan. 29. All games are at 6:30 p.m.


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