Brock Netter, Staff Writer
SARDINIA — Just when the SHAC race couldn’t heat up anymore, Eastern Brown goes and adds another log to the fire.
With revenge on their minds, the Warriors held North Adams to just 17 percent from the 3-point line and 13 points in the second half before walking out with a 44-37 victory on Saturday.
“Our team effort all the way around from top to bottom was excellent,” Eastern Brown coach Kevin Pickerill said. “Even the kids on the bench were engaged from beginning to end, and that speaks to our culture. Whether you’re No. 1 or No. 23, you buy in and invest in the program. This was a great team win, one I think we needed not just for revenge but also to have as a signature type of victory.”
Although North Adams (13-2, 8-2 SHAC) won the rebounding advantage 32-24, thanks in large part to 17 boards from DeLaney Harper, the Warriors’ defense created turnovers and got out in transition.
Once that defensive energy picked up to the tune of seven turnovers and that wave of momentum took over, Eastern Brown (18-2, 8-2 SHAC) never looked back.
“We made North Adams step out an extra foot or two off the three-point line,” Pickerill said. “The girls did a great job of getting out with high hands on the perimeter, which forced North Adams to step back a little further instead of toe on the line and getting a clean look.”
Both teams spent the first quarter racing up and down the court, exchanging leads and trying to get the upper hand.
Tied 13-13, Marah Call and Sierra Kendall connected on back-to-back shots that gave North Adams the 17-13 lead after the first.
Wylie Shipley connected on her first two shots to open the second, which extended the lead to 22-16. But Eastern Brown answered with a 6-0 run, capped by a triple from Bailey Dotson to re-tie the game at 22-22.
Harper then got a rebound and a put back to fall, keeping the Green Devils ahead 24-22 at halftime.
“North Adams played us with a box-and-1 defense last time, and it gave us a lot of problems,” Pickerill said. “We worked a lot on playing off the dribble, and we told Rylee [Leonard] that she was going to play a lot off the ball and take defenders with her. It opened up some things and we needed to take advantage of it in the second half.”
Pickerill noticed that North Adams had switched lineups to start the second half, so he decided to play Emma Brown and Mackenzie Gloff together to match size for size.
With the Green Devils ahead 27-26 after Braylie Jones split a pair of free throws, Gloff got a rebound and was fouled. She calmly hit both free throws to give Eastern Brown its first lead since the first quarter at 28-27.
Gloff then connected on a rebound and a put back, followed by a steal and bucket from Leonard for a 6-0 run that completely turned the tide and put the Warriors ahead 32-27. Kendall buried a triple to end the third, making it 32-30.
With more of NA’s focus on Gloff, it was Brown’s time to take advantage. Finding herself at the right place at the right time, she opened the fourth by scoring six of the Warriors’ eight points, which helped them control the biggest lead of the game at 40-32.
The Green Devils attempted to mount a late rally, but the shots wouldn’t fall while Leonard hit two free throws followed by a bucket from Emma Prine to seal the victory for the Warriors.
“Emma and Mackenzie played excellent offensively and defensively in the second half,” Pickerill said. “They both played big in the big moments and passed the ball exceptionally well. The entire second half from our team was unbelievable. Our guards played with active hands, we rebounded better, and we took North Adams’ best punch earlier and persevered. Couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Leonard finished with 12 points to lead EB, followed by 10 points and seven rebounds from Gloff while Brown added eight points.
Shipley finished with a game-high 15 points while Harper had 10 points and 17 rebounds for NA.
Eastern Brown returns to action on Monday at home against Whiteoak while North Adams travels to Ripley that same evening.
North Adams: 17-7-6-7 — 37
Eastern Brown: 13-9-10-12 — 44
North Adams: 14-43 FG, 5-9 FT, 4-23 3pt., 32 rebounds (Harper 17), 10 turnovers, 4 assists. Scoring: Shipley 15, Harper 10, Kendall 7, Call 2, Buttelwerth 2, Jones 1.
Eastern Brown: 16-38 FG, 10-17 FT, 2-9 3pt., 24 rebounds (Gloff 7), 7 turnovers, 5 assists. Scoring: Leonard 12, Gloff 10, Brown 8, Dotson 7, Prine 7.