PEABODY — The Peabody girls basketball team was able to shake off a slow start and cruise to a 48-38 victory over Northeastern Conference foe Revere Friday night at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.
“It was a slow start which surprised me a little but we played well in the later part of the second quarter and the third quarter,” Peabody coach Stan McKeen said. “Decision wise we didn’t make some great ones towards the beginning of the game. It’s a work in progress and overall I’m pleased.”
Freshman Oluchi Okananwa performed well in her Tanners debut with 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Senior captain Catherine Manning also had a solid night with nine points and eight rebound.
“Oluchi played a heck of a game,” McKeen said. “She gets out in the open court and it’s pretty tough to stop. For a freshman she is very quick and she anticipates really well. She has those long arms and she picked off passes in the first half.”
An inexperienced Revere team got off to a solid start, but struggled to produce offense down the stretch.
“We are just a young team,” Revere coach Matt Willis said. “We make a lot of mistakes and we lose our composure. It’s a young team and a team where every girl is either a first year varsity player or being asked to do a lot more than she’s ever been asked.”
Offensively the Patriots were led by junior captain Erika Cheever who totaled 14 points.
“In that first quarter she really got everything for us offensively,” Willis said of Cheever. “She is an outstanding player. She is very skilled and a very crafty offensive player. She can score in a lot of ways. She had some open looks in the second half that just didn’t fall and that was kind of the difference in the game. We didn’t make enough shots overall.”
Revere got off to a hot start, jumping out to an 8-2 lead thanks to two threes from Cheever while Peabody’s only points came on free throws.
The Tanners bounced back though, going on a run at the end of the first quarter that was capped off by a steal and layup by Okananwa to give Peabody a 11-10 lead. From there both teams went back and forth with Peabody taking a 23-18 lead into the half.
Peabody dominated the third quarter, outscoring Revere 20-7 and taking a 37-25 lead.
“We moved the ball well in the third and fourth quarter and I thought we did a good job,” McKeen said. “It was a good defensive effort especially down the stretch in the second half. I thought we played really good defense and forced them to take shots. They made some shots down the end of the game but in crucial times they were missing.”
The Patriots were able to outscore Peabody in the fourth, but it was too little too late as the Tanners cruised to an opening night victory.
“We just need to calm down and play smart before we try to play fast,” Willis said. “We can absolutely learn from this. With a young team you’re always just trying to get every positive you can. There is a lot we need to work on with a quick turn around playing Monday.”
Both teams will get back on the court Monday when Revere (0-2) hosts Malden and Peabody (1-0) will travel to Danvers.