Girls’ Basketball season comes to a close


James Farley

WA Girls’ Basketball cheers together prior to a game.

James Farley, Co-Managing Editor

WA Girls’ Basketball lost to Natick 56-33 on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the Roundball Tournament at Mansfield High School to end their season with a record of 6-14. 

From the opening tip, Natick jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, resulting in WA Head Coach Russ Coward calling timeout to stop the early momentum. Out of the timeout, WA responded with a pair of jumpers from freshman Kaitlyn Pepin and senior Ali Mammola to tie the score back up at 5-5. 

WA proceeded to go scoreless for the rest of the quarter, with Natick capitalizing on the scoreless stretch to develop a lead. In the final minutes of the quarter, senior forward Madi Forman finished multiple layups to help Natick open up a 14-5 lead at the end of the opening frame. 

Forman continued her strong performance in the paint out of the gates in the second quarter, forcing WA to call timeout trailing 18-5 with 5:39 remaining in the second quarter. 

After the timeout, Coward implemented a full-court press, helping to increase WA’s defensive intensity. With WA’s rejuvenated defense came more offensive opportunities, as well. WA chipped away at the deficit starting with a pull-up midrange shot from sophomore Diya Jayaraman and free throws from Mammola and freshman Maddie Smith. 

Then, senior Alanna Saunders went on a mini run of her own with an and-one with 2:51 left in the first half, followed by a successful two-on-one fast break layup to cut the deficit to 26-15.

However, Natick ended the first half on a 6-0 run of their own, led by Forman and her dominant play down low, concluding the first half with Natick in the lead 32-15. 

Coming out of halftime, Saunders started out the scoring with a three-pointer on the first possession to cut the lead to 14. In response, Natick went on an 8-2 run to make it a 40-20 game, highlighted by a difficult floater by senior Madeline David and a fadeaway shot by Forman. 

For the remainder of the third quarter, the Ghosts fought hard to claw their way back into the game, with the Ghosts trailing 44-26 at the end of the quarter.

Looking for a big fourth quarter comeback, WA’s seniors stepped up to fight back. Down 48-26 midway through the final frame, senior Alex Jones and Saunders hit consecutive shots to close in on the deficit, but WA could not develop any consistent offense down the stretch. 

With two minutes remaining in the game and WA trailing Natick 51-31, Saunders scored the final basket of WA’s season with a layup in the paint. Natick closed out the final minutes by converting on consecutive possessions, and the final buzzer sounded with WA losing 56-33.

Overall, Coward was upset about the season ending, but was pleased with the hard work from the whole team and consistent leadership from the senior captains, Saunders, Jones, and Mammola.

“Obviously, I am disappointed in our overall record. But I think we improved over the season, and our seniors were excellent leaders,” Coward said. “It will be very important for all of us to work hard from now until the start of next season.”

Saunders, WA’s MVP for the tournament, although sad about the season coming to an end, acknowledged the fun she had as a senior, as well as the potential this young team has in the coming years.

“Our record doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of time and effort we dedicated to this season or how much we bonded as a team. Personally, I had a lot of fun this season. I really love the group of people I got to play alongside,” Saunders said. “If they [the underclassmen] all continue to work as hard as they have been over the past couple months, I think they are going to be really successful in the next few years.”

WA finished the season with a record of 6-14, and finished third in the Dual County League (DCL) Large conference.