Monday, February 19, 2018

Newton South Girls' Hoops Captures Tournament Title against Archbishop Williams

By Eamon Convey (@ConveyWEEI)

Woburn, Mass. - In one of the best girls' high school basketball games played this season in Massachusetts, Archbishop Williams (17-3) and the Newton South Lions (19-1) tangled in the championship game of the Comast-D’Vinci Tournament held at Woburn High School.

According to Danny Ventura of The Boston Herald, the Bishops sit at #7 and the Lions hold down the #9 spot in the paper's latest power rankings. Neither team disappointed Monday, in a 56-53 game taken by the Lions.

Bishops guard Asiah Dingle (Kent State ’22 commit) and Lions guard Veronica Burton (Northwestern ’22) have been both friends and adversaries on the basketball court since the age of nine.

“It is a good opportunity to play against someone that is actually as good as you,” Dingle said of competing against Burton. “It’s fun to see if we can take each other out of the game, both mentally and defensively, but also match each other offensively.”

“Every year I look forward to the competition of playing her,” Burton said of the challenge Dingle presents. “Doesn’t quit. Definitely knows how to compete each and every day. It’s a fight each and every game through and through.”

While it took Dingle a half to get going, Burton was sharp from the jump tallying five points, four rebounds an assist, a steal, and a block in the first quarter alone which helped stake her team to a 17-6 end of one lead.

The first few minutes of the second quarter defensively for the Bishops set the tone for the rest of the game. After giving up a three from the wing to Lions junior guard Frankie Silva, Dingle drove the length of the floor and drew the third personal foul of the first half on Burton.

After a time out taken midway through the second quarter by Lions head coach Joe Rodgers, the Lions got a three from Paige Ollivierre assisted by her sister Maria that restarted the team’s offense. After two straight buckets on the low block from Bishops sophomore center Jess Knight, Burton sandwiched baskets around a pair of made free throws by Dingle to put the Lions up 17.

“Well (Veronica) is a tremendous player,” Bishops head coach Matt Mahoney said. “We had to do everything we could to try and defend her. We tried to double team her, set screens on the other end, but she is just a fantastic player. Sometimes you need more than one player to cover her, but I thought that Asiah did a fantastic job on her.”

Dingle, with a fantastic sweeping lay-in around a defender and junior Monica Spain, with an offensive rebound and putback powered a late first half push by the Bishops to get the game back to an 11-point deficit at 32-21.

As good as Burton and the Lions were in the first half, the team nearly fell apart at the beginning of the second half, giving up a 20-0 run that spanned the entire third quarter and saw the Bishops take a 37-32 into the fourth quarter. 

“That is our first really bad run that we gave up, so hopefully that means we’ve been avoiding them,” Rodgers said. “The foul trouble hurt but I thought we had some awfully good looks. If you go back and look at the quality of our shots in that quarter I’m not sure that they are too different from earlier and that’s what we can control. What we really have to do better is not let missing those open shots impact our defense.”

During that third quarter, it was junior guard Bridgette O’Reilly’s two triples as well as a deep two, and sensational transition defense by senior Erica Sylvia, drawing two charges, including the fourth personal on Burton which sent her to the bench and further fueled the Bishops’ run.

“It was hard to watch from the bench during that stretch,” Burton said. “However my teammates stepped up and did what they needed to do, but it is frustrating just knowing that you are unable to help when you want to so badly.”

The short break between quarters clearly made a difference for the Lions and they came out on fire once again from behind the arc as threes from Maria and Silva were sandwiched around buckets by Dingle and Spain. With just three minutes left, Dingle went up for an offensive rebound, as she had likely thousands of times, and was called for an absurd offensive foul that was her fifth personal.

“I thought it was completely clean,” Dingle said. “I wasn’t even facing her, the ball went over her head and I out-jumped her and she fell. I thought for sure it was a foul on her but I guess the referee felt differently.” 

After losing its star player, the Bishops responded courtesy of Sylvia who successfully went coast-to-coast to retake the lead for the Bishops, Burton nailed two free throws, watched Paige grab an offensive rebound and turned it into another triple to put her team up four, 54-50.

After a time out, Spain nailed a three from the top of the key and the Bishops immediately fouled to extend the game, however, Burton hit both free throws to seal it.

“That three definitely felt good,” Burton said. “Things weren’t really going my way and I was relieved to get back in it and get the momentum towards our side.”

“Every day, every practice, we look to get better,” Burton said. “You can’t underestimate anyone you’re playing, because at this point anyone can win anything. So, each practice we just go in and focus to get better each and ever day.”

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