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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
In their last matchup, the Wellesley girls’ varsity basketball team dropped a close game to Brookline by a score of 39-35. In another tight matchup on Friday night, a late-game surge and some clutch free throw shooting would give the Raiders their revenge via what was ultimately a 49-39 win.
A few Wellesley free throws that had no impact on the outcome of the game made that score far wider than the game actually was. A tight first quarter saw Wellesley take the lead, 9-7, based off the play of Anna Glashow and Kaelagh Malloy. The quarter also saw the Raiders unleash a unique defensive strategy, designed to limit the effectiveness of Brookline’s senior captain, Maria Mercado Rengel. The Raiders had Allison Goehringer face-guard Rengel throughout the night, trying to deny her the ball while paying no attention to what else was happening on the court.
It wasn’t uncommon to hear Raider coach Glen Magpiong yell “don’t look, Allison,” as she tried to overcome her instincts to help her teammates on defense. It was a risky strategy, considering it meant her teammates weren’t going to have a senior forward to help if their man drove by them, but it clearly frustrated Rengel throughout the game.
“Against Framingham a girl went off for 23 in the first half, and then in the second half we adjusted and face-guarded her, and she ended up with four. So we knew how good 15 (Rengel) was, and we just said if she starts to go, we’re going to face-guard her. She hit her first three and we said: ‘Okay, that’s what we’re going to do. Hopefully it takes them out of their rhythm and forces somebody else to beat us.’ And I thought Allison did a terrific job guarding her tonight.”
The second quarter saw Brookline come storming back, starting the quarter on a 9-0 run that led to them taking a 16-9 lead. A Glashow layup and three pointer, followed by a nice cutting basket from Kaelagh Malloy, had the game tied at 16-16 soon after. With both teams trading baskets, the pivotal moment came with twelve seconds left in the half and Brookline leading, 21-20. Anna Glashow sprinted through the Brookline press meant to slow her down and found Lauren Mealey for an easy basket that gave the Raiders a 22-21 lead at the half.
Wellesley looked like they were going to pull away in the third quarter when an Allison Goehringer put back an Ali Jones block, leading to a Kaelagh Malloy layup, and a corner three from Yoko Riseborough that had Wellesley up, 35-28. Unfortunately a couple bad fouls gave Brookline easy points and the quarter ended with the Raiders up by two, 35-33.
Wellesley’s offense was too much for Brookline early in the fourth quarter, though. Glashow broke the press again for an easy layup. Riseborough hit another three and Goehringer had a nice pass to a cutting Mealey to give the Raiders a 41-33 lead. A three-point play and a three-point shot would get Brookline to within four, but that would be as close as the game got. Brookline needed to foul with so little time in the game left, but Wellesley came up clutch in their free throw shooting. Both Glashow and Malloy hit both shots in a one-and-one situation, putting the game out of reach with an ultimate final score of 49-39.
What was the difference between the close game they lost to Brookline and this close game the Raiders won? Coach Magpiong thinks it’s as simple as the team improving over time.
“I just think we’re getting better. That’s really it,” said the coach. “We’re just trying to get better every day and I think the girls are. And I think that’s really it.”
In a game that saw Kaelagh Malloy score 15 points and Anna Glashow score 12, coach Magpiong saw lots of individuals worthy of praise for their performances in the victory.
“Kaelagh Malloy is just a beast. I thought Kayla played well. I thought Lauren Mealey played well coming off the bench. I thought Yoko Riseborough played well, hit a couple threes and attacked. And Anna controlled the game with the ball in her hand and hit some key free throws.”
With the team now 4-10, coach Magpiong’s message to the team moving forward stressed that with their record, they need to treat every game like it’s the playoffs.
“Every game we play is a playoff game because if we don’t win, we’re out. So, we just won our first playoff game.”