PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Peabody point guard Katie Wallace draws a foul from Swampscott’s Ella Parker on a drive to the basket.
By STEVE KRAUSE
SWAMPSCOTT — Defense makes the difference.
That’s the moral of Friday night’s story at the Richard “Dick” Lynch Gymnasium when Peabody’s girls basketball team got on top of Swampscott early, and survived a fourth-quarter scare before reasserting itself to win, 46-38, to raise its record to 2-3.
“Tonight, we played good defense,” Peabody coach Stan McKeen said. “And that made a difference. In the three games we’ve lost this year, the other team’s been at 30-35 points by halftime.”
The Tanners came out with a straight man-to-man defense and Swampscott just couldn’t do anything with it. It wasn’t that the Big Blue didn’t get looks. They got looks. They just couldn’t get the shots to fall.
“That’s been a problem for us quite a few times this year so far,” said Big Blue coach Katelyn Leonard. “We just can’t seem to get our shots to fall. And we seem to have trouble with man-to-man defenses, too.”
In fact, the only time Swampscott didn’t have trouble was when Peabody, in the fourth quarter, switched to a zone. Then, Swampscott hit three straight three-pointers before McKeen quickly called a timeout and scrapped that idea. Peabody went back to man defense, and that was the end of Swampscott’s spurt.
Nobody did much of anything in the first quarter, and it was only 6-4 Peabody after eight minutes. However, Peabody started heating up in the second, and one of the reasons was the play of Melissa Gray. She finished the night with 16 points, by far her highest offensive output of the season thus far, and seven of them came in the second quarter as Peabody stretched its lead to 22-14 at the break.
Any thoughts Swampscott had of shaking off the cobwebs were dispelled in the third quarter as the Big Blue could only muster up six points. Meanwhile, Peabody really got rolling. Gray scored six more points in the quarter. However, all of the Tanners contributed on the defensive end of the floor.
By the time the quarter ended, it was 37-22 and it looked as if the Tanners would coast home.
However, Swampscott had other ideas when Peabody switched defenses. The Big Blue went on an 12-1 run, highlighted by consecutive trifectas by Olivia Matella (two of them) and another by Jaymie Caponigro, who was held to seven points.
After Caponigro’s three, Swampscott had climbed to within four points (38-34) and it was nervous time for McKeen and the Tanners.
However, Peabody knew just what to do. The players started driving to the basket to take advantage of Swampscott’s foul situation (the Big Blue had amassed 10 fouls in the second half by the beginning of the fourth quarter) and sank five free throws to restore order. And when Katie Wallace hit a three-pointer with a minute left in the game, that gave Peabody a 10-point lead (46-36). Hannah Leahy’s two free throws with time dwindling down accounted for the final score.
Nikki Rosa led Swampscott with 12 point and Matella finished with 11.
Steve Krause can be reached at [email protected]