Courtney Norton scored nine points in the win. (Item File Photo)

Fenwick rolls past Spellman, closes in on tournament bid

PEABODY -- The Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team is fighting for a spot in the state tournament, and the Crusaders played like it on Monday night. Behind some incredible defensive play, Fenwick took down visiting Catholic Central League rival Cardinal Spellman, 61-27. The Crusaders only gave up 13 points in the first half, including just two points in the second quarter.

"We played great out there tonight," said Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis. "We've been playing a lot better over the past few games, just playing tougher and more consistently, and we're seeing a lot more energy out of everyone out there."

In addition to the great defense, the Crusaders had 12 different players score points in the win. Junior captain Jaxson Nadeau led the way for Fenwick with 14 points to go along some relentless defense. Senior Courtney Norton and freshman Liz Gonzalez each scored nine points, while senior captain Jennie Meagher had seven points and five rebounds. Senior Mary O'Brien led the team with six rebounds.

"Things are really starting to click now that everyone is coming back," said DeBaggis, referring to the return of several key players from injury. "The first few games with everyone back it was a bit of a learning curve, but now it looks like things are starting to settle down with everyone."

Fenwick got off to a hot start right away. The Crusaders played their trademark zone defense all the way up the floor on every possession, forcing a number of turnovers and keeping the pressure on Spellman. While it took a few minutes for the Fenwick offense to get going, the Crusaders were able to knock down some shots and take a 20-11 lead into the first break.

Fenwick's second quarter went as well as any basketball team would hope, with the Crusaders putting up 21 points on the offensive end and giving up just two points on defense. They only gave up one basket in the entire quarter. It was a combination of great rotations, quick hands and heads-up play that helped Fenwick to a 41-13 lead at halftime.

"That's where I want our team to be, playing that kind of defense," DeBaggis said. "We want to be a team that's relentless on defense, and that in turn opens up more offense for us."

The third quarter saw the Crusaders stretch the lead even further, getting it up to 34 points by the end of the quarter. Many of the reserve players came in on both sides in the fourth quarter, and the lead remained there until the end of the game.

Now at 9-8 on the season, Fenwick needs just one more win to get into the state tournament. But it's no cakewalk, as the Crusaders will have to win one of their final three games against either St. Mary's, Beverly or Masconomet/Gloucester (depending on tournament results).

"We'd certainly like to get it done sooner rather than later so we can get it out of the way and get in, but it'll be tough," said DeBaggis. "We've still got some quality teams left on the schedule, so we're going to have to play at the level we played tonight if we want to grab another win."

Fenwick will play on the road at St. Mary's in a CCL showdown on Thursday evening.

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