SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott girls basketball team survived Revere’s late comeback attempt Friday night and held on for a 41-36 win at Richard Lynch Gymnasium.
With the win, the Big Blue qualified for the state tournament after falling a win short of the postseason last winter.
“It feels good (to qualify for states),” Big Blue coach Katelyn Leonard said. “Last year we came up one win shy so this is a goal we set right at the beginning of the season. We wanted to get it done in January and I’m so proud of the way the girls hung in there because Revere was a really tough team. A couple more minutes and who knows what would’ve happened.”
Sophie DiGrande posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Katie Watts (10 points, three rebounds) also made key shots for the Big Blue.
“Sophie was just was so aggressive tonight,” Leonard said. “She just really couldn’t be stopped early on. When she gets going to the basket it’s difficult to defend. And then she did it on the boards as well which is good to see.”
Despite the loss, Revere coach Matt Willis was proud of his team’s effort.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Willis said. “We’re a very young team and most of these girls have never been in real competitive games before. At the beginning of the season we had some games where teams put a run on us early and we didn’t know how to respond. Tonight we responded but Swampscott made a couple more shots down the stretch. There’s a lot to build on from this.”
Sophie DiGrande took over right away. The freshman scored 11 points in the first quarter, capping off the great start with a 3-pointer to put Swampscott ahead 13-4. The Big Blue extended their lead thanks to a 3-pointer by Grace DiGrande (Sophie’s older sister) to take a 16-6 lead into the second quarter.
A deep shot and a 3-pointer by Watts helped push the Swampscott lead to 21-9 early in the second. From there both teams stepped up defensively before Swampscott took a 23-11 lead into the half.
“We knew we had to start getting out onto their shooters,” Willis said. “If we did a better job of that in the first half, who knows? We were really concerned with making sure that Nikki Rosa didn’t beat us. We had Carolina Bettero (nine points) who’s a freshman, never played basketball before, stuck on her. We prepared well for tonight and a lot of girls who maybe don’t play as much in the game did a great job of giving us a look.”
The halftime adjustments paid off for the Patriots. Revere put together a few small runs through the third quarter and freshman Skyla DeSimone hit a key 3-pointer late in the quarter to cut the Swampscott lead to 30-21.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Caroline Stasio (10 points, 10 rebounds) stepped up for the Patriots. The sophomore hit a pair of key 3-pointers to slim the Big Blue lead to 34-31 with just a few minutes remaining.
“We just wanted to stick together,” Leonard said of Revere’s late surge. “We were trying to get through it. We just needed that one basket, but we knew the whole time we could play defense. Even if the ball isn’t going in we can still play defense.”
Watts got the big baskets Swampscott needed to help close things down, hitting a three and pair of late free throws to ice the win.
“It’s tough to play against their best players and then get out on shooters,” Willis said. “The first half we focused on stopping the drive and in the second we focused on their shooters a little bit more. I just wish we had done that in the first half.”
Revere (5-6) hopes to bounce back into the win column Monday (5) in a non-conference game against Triton at Merullo Field House. Swampscott (10-1) is back in action Tuesday (7) when it travels to Everett.