WOBURN — When it comes to Archbishop Williams, Bishop Fenwick girls basketball coach Adam DeBaggis hit the nail right on the head after the Crusaders defeated Bedford Saturday to claim their second North Division 3 championship in three years and set up a semifinal bout with the Bishops.
“Archbishop Williams can score in bunches, they rebound extremely well and they have five girls on the floor at all times who are capable of producing offense in a hurry, and with the best point guard in the state in Asiah Dingle, they will be tough to stop,” DeBaggis said.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, DeBaggis’ observations proves to be spot on last night at Woburn High.
The Bishops, behind a 30-point effort from Dingle, who will take her talents this fall to Division 1 Kent State, and a dominant effort off the offensive glass, turned a tight game into a rout and ran away with a 69-51 victory to dash the Crusaders’ dreams of playing for a second state championship in the last three years.
Instead, it will be the Bishops who have the chance to add their third state championship plaque in four years Saturday when they face off against West sectional champion Hampshire in Springfield at either the MassMutual Center or Springfield College (TBD).
“I don’t think she (Dingle) did anything crazy that hurt us, it was more so the one pass, the shot and we stopped that, but they get the rebound and go back up and either make it or get the foul, so it was stuff like that,” said DeBaggis. “Initially I thought we were defending pretty well, but we allowed their shooters to take shots and that wasn’t smart on our part, and then their second chance points were also a huge factor tonight.”
The game started out well for Fenwick. Senior captain Jennie Meagher swatted the opening tip off right into the hands of junior captain Jaxson Nadeau (7 points) on the fly, who laid it in just five seconds into the game.
After Dingle answered right back with a coast-to-coast 3-point play, Meagher grabbed a big rebound and fed senior captain Sammi Gallant (12 points), who added two more with an underhanded scoop to give Fenwick a 4-3 lead.
That was the last lead the Crusaders would have in the game. The Bishops went on a 16-4 run to go into the second quarter ahead by 11, 19-8.
Fenwick slowly chipped away in the second quarter and closed to within three points on three occasions, the first after a free throw by junior Olivia DiPietro (3 points, 5 boards) that made it 21-18, then again at 23-20 after freshman Liz Gonzalez (8 points) converted both ends of a 1-and-1. But Gonzalez wasn’t done yet. After Bridgette O’Reilly drained a three, Gonzalez responded with a three of her own to cut the Bishops’ lead to 26-23 with four minutes to play in the first half.
After that, it was all Williams, which went on an 11-2 run in the last two minutes to enter halftime with a 37-25 lead.
The momentum carried over into the third quarter as the Bishops poured it on, outscoring Fenwick 21-8 to take a commanding 25-point lead at 58-33 into the final eight minutes.
Williams stretched the lead to as many as 28, but Fenwick showed some poise and grit by taking the ball to the hoop and hitting 13-of-14 foul shots in the fourth quarter to whittle the Bishops’ lead down to under 20 points a couple of times, but it was too little too late.
“I felt really good at the beginning, but it just kind of snowballed late in the second quarter and again in the third quarter late,” said DeBaggis. “You can’t let that happen against the good teams, you can get away with it against average teams but not against a team like this. I wouldn’t even call them good, they are elite.”
Meagher finished the final game of her high school career with a double double (10 points, 14 rebounds), while fellow senior Fredi DeGuglielmo finished with 5 points. Fittingly, DeGuglielmo hit the final Fenwick basket of the game, a long 3-pointer from 6 feet behind the arc to cut the Crusaders’ deficit to 19, 68-49, with about a minute to go.
“We just didn’t hit our shots tonight,” DeGuglielmo said. “I can’t say enough about what this team accomplished this year, with all the adversity and injuries. Obviously, we are all disappointed, but it just wasn’t our night tonight.”