Late lead gets away from Warriors

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Staff Writer

WILTON – The Wilton-Lyndeborough High School girls basketball team was one half away from pulling off an upset.

The Warriors held an 11-point halftime lead Monday night over Hinsdale, and coach Denny Claire warned his team that the Pacers were going to pick up the pressure on defense.

That’s exactly what Hinsdale did and it worked. W-L turned the ball over 24 times and scored just eight points in the second half to fall to the Pacers 47-40. The loss dropped the Warriors to 8-9 in Division IV, while Hinsdale moved to 14-3 and came a step closer to locking up a top four seed.

“They just lost their focus,” Claire said. “The reason we didn’t score is because we couldn’t get the shots and that’s because we turned the ball over.

“I said (at halftime) exactly what they did. They’re going to start pressuring the ball and try to pick off passes. You’ve got to be careful with your passes.”

When the Warriors did get a shot off, they weren’t falling like they had in the first half, when W-L built up a 32-21 lead. And after controlling the boards through the first 16 minutes, the Warriors had a hard time keeping the Pacers off the offensive glass in the second half.

“I thought we did a great job in the triangle-and-two defense, but then we started losing rebounds and they were getting them in the second half,” Claire said. “The press was effective. We wanted to slow them down because the guards like to run.”

On the other side, Hinsdale coach Terry Bonnette excepted to see the Warriors try to run a lot against his team because of its lack of depth.

“We only have five varsity players and I knew they were going to run us all over the floor,” he said. “They did and they did a good job. With five girls, we’ve had a hard time creating intensity in practice. I think the game might have been quicker than they expected. In the first half, we didn’t match the intensity and we didn’t rebound well.”

The Warriors took a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, and they stretched the lead to 10 points on back-to-back fast-break layups that came off Hinsdale turnovers. W-L led 19-12 at the end of the first quarter, and pushed the lead back to nine after Hinsdale’s Skylar Bonnette picked up a technical foul with 4:46 left in the half. Jennica Martin, who led the Warriors with 14 points, made both free throws and the Warriors led 26-17. Martin’s jumper with three seconds left made it 32-21 at halftime.

The big first half was a break from what has been the norm for W-L this season.

“Usually, we come on in the second half,” Claire said. “We’ve been scoring a lot of points in the fourth.”

W-L was able to stretch its lead to 13 points early in the fourth quarter, going up 36-23 on a layup by Deanna Davidson, but Skylar Bonnette, who had a game-high 17 points, answered at the other end with a 3.

That started Hinsdale’s come back, as the Pacers outscored the Warriors 24-4 the rest of the way. Despite W-L’s in ability to score, it was still a one possession game with 1:26 to play.

“We’ve got to learn to play four quarters,” Claire said. “If you turn the ball over that many times, you can’t score.”

The Warriors were scheduled to play at Stevens on Wednesday to end the regular season.

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