LYNN — Defense was the name of the game for the Classical girls basketball team Friday night, as the Rams rolled to a 61-27 win over Somerville to open the 2018-2019 season. The Rams had 10 steals as a team and forced even more turnovers with their pressure defense.
“We had a really good preseason in terms of effort and attitude, and the girls came out tonight and played really well,” said Classical coach Tom Sawyer. “I was really proud of our execution tonight on things we’ve been talking about for the past three weeks, and overall it was a really good performance for us.”
Amber Crayton led the scoring for Classical, finishing with 15 points and two rebounds. Jean Gupton-Morrison had a big night with 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals, while Skyler Crayton had nine points and nine rebounds. Sajada Dean had eight points off the bench, while Jazzmine Masse had seven points and two rebounds from the point guard position.
“A lot of those points came off of our defense, which was great,” said Sawyer. “Our goal tonight was to make this a 94-foot game, and we did that. And as a result we were able to get a bunch of baskets in transition.”
As nice as it is to score 61 points in the first game of the season, it was Classical’s defense that was the true highlight — especially in the first half. The Rams allowed just five points in the first half, shutting out the Highlanders completely in the second quarter.
“The first thing we wrote on the board in our first meeting of the year was ‘we have to defend,'” said Sawyer. “For us to win, we’re going to have to defend. The girls did a really good job of getting after it tonight, but even when Somerville broke through our pressure we didn’t give up any easy shots. I think that was the most positive thing.”
The Rams opened up the game on a hot streak, going on a 14-0 run before Somerville made a basket. Classical played suffocating defense the entire length of the floor, using traps to force bad passes and jumping passing lanes for steals.
In the second quarter, the Rams completely shut down the Somerville offense. At the same time, Amber Crayton and Gupton-Morrison were doing damage on the offensive end to increase Classical’s lead. By the end of the first half, the Rams were in full control at 31-5.
The third quarter saw a bit of a run by Somerville thanks largely to the play of Jill Hutchinson (14 points), who scored eight of the Highlanders’ 11 points in the frame. Unfortunately for Somerville, Classical remained hot and extended its lead to 50-16 by the end of the quarter.
The reserves came into the game for Classical in the fourth quarter, but they didn’t slow down by any means. Dean led the charge with all eight of her points coming in the last quarter, while Lindsey Valeri scored her first career varsity points. Sailor Brinkler, Amelia Pedro, Chantelle Blanco and Abby Fila all had an impact on the game in the fourth as the Rams coasted to a victory.
Next up for Classical (1-0) will be a home game against Winthrop, another Northeastern Conference opponent, Tuesday.
“We’ll be happy tonight because it’s hard to win in this league and the girls should be proud of their accomplishment, but tomorrow we have practice and we’ll get back to work,” said Sawyer. “Winthrop is a good team and they don’t care about what we did tonight, so we’ll have to be ready to go on Tuesday.”