LYNN — A late rally from the English girls basketball team made things interesting in Thursday’s game against Classical. The Rams weathered the storm and hung on for a 44-43 win in the opening round of the Walter J. Boverini Tournament at Tech’s Field House.
“Anytime Classical and English get together in this sport or any sport, boys or girls, it’s always going to be a battle,” Rams coach Tom Sawyer said. “That’s what we expected today and we did just enough to win. I’m proud of my kids because they persevered. Credit to English, they kept coming and coming, but I’m glad the buzzer went off when it did.”
It was an all-around impressive effort from the Rams with junior Jean Gupton-Morrison (12 points 10 rebounds and seven steals) leading the way. Kiara Edmonds netted eight points while Jazzmine Masse and Amber Crayton each scored seven.
“Jean plays so hard all the time,” Sawyer said. “At times we have to take her out because she only knows one way to play, hard, which I love. It’s always all out 100 percent effort and she gave us all she had as did a number of other kids that played really hard today. That’s what it takes to beat English. That’s who we are and that’s who they are.”
For the Bulldogs, a team-leading 16 points by Mashayla Johnson wasn’t enough for an inexperienced group to come away with the win.
“We have lost two games in a row and teams are playing a little tougher than us right now,” English coach MacKenzie Charles said. “We gave up 20-plus offensive rebounds and you can’t win a game that way. It didn’t really come down to the end of the game, it was our start and that’s two games in a row we started off slow.
“We started off a little better today than against Winthrop (last week) but I just have to learn and remind myself this is a young group,” Charles added. “We didn’t dress a senior today, I have to still have patience. We have the ability and we have the skill to really be a good team we just have to go through the growing pains.”
Both teams started off the night with excellent defensive play. The Rams jumped out to an early five-point lead but 10 first-half points by Johnson kept the Bulldogs in the game in the first.
Late in the second quarter, Classical pulled ahead thanks to two 3-pointers from Masse and Edmonds to take a 25-15 lead into the half.
“That first half our defense was really good,” Sawyer said. “I thought our team defense was really good and we were flying around which is what we want to try to do. We created a few turnovers for some easy points which is what we need to do too.”
English started to chip away at the lead in the fourth, eventually cutting the deficit to three after 3-pointers by Johnson and Juliana Perry in the final minute of the game. But the Bulldogs couldn’t get into position for a foul after a layup in the final seconds and fell by one, 44-43.
The Bulldogs (2-2) will take on Tech in the consolation game Saturday (12) while the Rams (3-1) face St. Mary’s in the championship game (4). All games will be played at Tech’s Field House.