[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Friday night, the Medfield girls’ basketball team, at one point, held a forty point lead over Dover-Sherborn, en route to what was ultimately a 65-29 victory. But while the Warriors, who the Boston Herald currently ranks 13th in the state, were quite pleased with how they played in what was their fifteenth win of the season, Dover-Sherborn made sure that a rough loss didn’t in any way hamper the enthusiasm they showed Sophie Fallon and Olivia Collins on their senior night.
The game got out of hand pretty quickly. In the first half, Dover-Sherborn struggled offensively, turning the ball over frequently and finding themselves unable to score with any consistency. With less than five minutes left in the half, Dover-Sherborn had only mustered eight points. A three from Meg Hanlon got the team to fifteen at the half. Unfortunately for the Raiders, with a wide variety of players scoring, Medfield had 34 points.
The second half didn’t go any better for Dover-Sherborn. In the third quarter, they only scored five points, while Medfield put up thirteen. The fourth quarter saw Dover-Sherborn add nine points to their total. Medfield added eighteen. Dover-Sherborn’s leading scorer on the night was Sabrina Ryan, who had six points.
But for as dismal as the game was from a score standpoint for the Raiders, you couldn’t tell that from their body language. Not letting the score impact the team’s enthusiasm, even though the team was down by over thirty points when Sophie Fallon was fouled late in the fourth quarter, the crowed roared and the bench went crazy when she put in the free throws. And when coach Kanee Chlebda pulled Collins and Fallon from the game, the crowd loudly cheered, every player and coach hugged them, and everyone made sure that regardless of how the night had turned out, they ended their high school basketball careers on a high note.
After the game, coach Chlebda didn’t want to talk about the specifics of the game. Instead, she noted that the team had been knocked out of postseason contention earlier in the week and wanted to make sure, above all else, that the team honored its seniors, despite having to face one of the best teams in the league.
“Medfield is a great team,” said the coach. “But tonight was really about the seniors. We had a tough week this week, with a strong Norton team that got the best of us the second time around, and last night against Ursuline, so I think for the girls, tonight was all about honoring Olivia and Sophie and having fun, knowing that this team [Medfield] is one of the best in the league.”
When asked about her seniors, Coach Chlebda noted that they helped bring the program out of rough times, and that she knows that while they will no longer playing, they remain a part of its future.
“They’re great kids. They’re great athletes. They’ve helped bring this program out of some really low seasons in terms of wins, and they were part of that team last year that got us to the tournament for the first time in a very long time. So they’ve put in the work, and I said to them in the locker room: I know they’ll come back and be a part of this family that we have here.”
As for Medfield’s future, they have big plans. Postseason-bound, one of the more fascinating things about the team is how balanced they are. When one hears that a high school team has beaten another by over thirty points, one might assume the winning team had an unstoppable star that dominated the game. Instead, Medfield had a balanced scoring game in which their two leading scorers (Kaylie McNeil and Annie McCarthy) had twelve and eleven points, respectively. According to coach Mark Nickerson, that balance is one of the hallmarks of the team.
“Offensively, we were clicking early on,” explained the coach. “We made some big shots. Annie McCarthy hit a few threes early that got us going in the right direction, but we were getting steals, even out of our half-court defense, and we had a lot of transition baskets, which is always a good thing. Like every time we play, it was a mix of players. We don’t have anybody averaging over ten points a game, but we’ve got a bunch of girls averaging nine, eight or seven points a game, so that balanced scoring, I think, makes us tough to defend.”
Perhaps because they don’t have that marquee, unstoppable player that scores thirty points a game, Coach Nickerson feels the team may be getting overlooked. But at 15-2 with a few games to play before the postseason tournament, the Warriors feel good about where they are, whether other teams realize how good they are or not.
“We have a good team. I know there’s a lot of good teams out there, but I was talking to the girls before the game and said: ‘I don’t feel like we’re getting a whole lot of respect around the state in terms of how good we are.’ We beat some really good teams this year, and I’m looking forward to us hopefully having a long run in the state tournament.”