PEABODY — Perhaps the only advantage the Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team had in Friday night’s game against Catholic Central League rival Cathedral was home court. Once the game started it was clear the Panthers had upper hand in size, speed and experience.
Cathedral placed Fenwick in a double-digit hole midway through the first quarter and never looked back, en route to a 57-31 win.
Olivia DiPietro led the Crusaders with nine points and Micayla Rossi followed with eight. DiPietro and Rossi each hauled in three rebounds. Sam Tache scored four points with two steals, while Elizabeth Pica grabbed five rebounds.
Fenwick, fighting injuries, was down four key players. Among them was leading scorer and senior co-captain Sammi Gallant.
“We still could’ve played better,” Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis said. “We started out poorly. We played well all things considered but even without four of our best players I still think we could’ve kept it closer.”
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to set the tone in the opening quarter. Cathedral scored the first 18 points of the game, forced Fenwick to burn two timeouts early and took the wind out of the Crusaders’ sails. Finola Corcoran’s floater seven minutes into the game put Fenwick on the board. DiPietro followed with a free throw and Grace Kennedy netted a lay-up. At the end of the first quarter, Cathedral held full command with a 22-5 lead.
“Cathedral’s size is the biggest thing,” DeBaggis said. “We have girls who are 5’5 trying to beat their press and it’s really hard. It’s hard to go away from your instincts because you throw an overhead pass and they’re going to deflect it. The size and speed is huge. Really, a lot of their game is intimidation. At one point, we must’ve turned the ball over 10 times in a row.
“Cathedral scores most of its points off fastbreaks and second-chances, from rebounding” DeBaggis said. “Their size is a huge factor. It’s size and quickness.”
After consecutive Cathedral baskets, DiPietro hit a lay-up to make it a 26-7 game. Cathedral’s Amani Boston, a Division II Southern Connecticut commit, found her footing from there with back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 10-0 run. Fenwick scored nine points in the final stretch of the half (highlighted by Rossi’s 3-pointer) but trailed 39-16 at halftime.
The third quarter didn’t help Fenwick’s cause. Fenwick hit another offensive drought as the Crusaders were held to just five points in the third. The Panthers led 48-21 heading into the fourth.
Fenwick’s reserves played the majority of the fourth quarter and DeBaggis was proud of their effort in the closing stretch.
“It was good to see the younger kids believe in themselves at the end,” DeBaggis said. “That’s what we’re looking for. Having so many people out, we were looking for them to step up and gain confidence.”
Fenwick, now 7-6, aims to bounce back into the win column when the Crusaders visit Cardinal Spellman Tuesday (6:30). The Crusaders need three wins in their final seven games to qualify for the Division 3 North state tournament.
“We can’t make any excuses,” DeBaggis said. “We just have to make sure we’re taking care of business on a daily basis. Now we have to play next week without Sammi (Gallant). We’re hoping the other girls can come back. Every day we have to take care of business. Every drill, every move we make in practice, we have to do to our best because we need to improve. We showed some progress here but we need to take care of business.”