Alvirne gets best of Merrimack girls, boys

Alvirne High School girls basketball coach Steve Tracy isn’t quite sure where he noticed the saying, but he believes in it:

“Offense can only create offense,” he recited. “Defense can create offense, and defense can create defense. That’s basically it.”

It certainly was the message behind the Broncos’ 45-22 win over Merrimack on Thursday night, as Alvirne jumped out to an 18-0 lead, holding the 2-12 Tomahawks to without a field goal in the first half.

“Their defense was pretty aggressive,” Merrimack coach Courtney Cheetham said. “We were prepared for what they would do. … It’s think it’s frustrating. We work so hard every day in practice. Often the other team’s coach will tell me how hard they think my girls work.

“But sometimes you can be a hard-working team, and when you look at the scoreboard, it doesn’t reflect it.”

Tracy’s Broncos, now 8-5, worked especially hard on defense, to the point where they led 36-8 after three periods and he could clear the bench. Amanda Wetmore led the way with 12 points while Katie Bellomo added eight.

Merrimack’s only points in the first half were two free throws from Sara Wozniak, who finished with four points. Grace Mulvey led the Tomahawks with six while Jackson Gutekunst added five.

The Broncos were determined coming into the game, and so was Tracy. The team had lost recently to Concord, giving the Crimson Tide it’s only win of the year. Both coach and players were determined not to be an upset victim this time around.

“We had a learning experience,” Tracy sad. “I’m cautious. I told them one game at a time.”

In other words, no looking ahead to the tournament next month, although Tracy’s goal is for the Broncos to finish in the top eight in Division I and get home court for the first round.

With defense like they played on Thursday, who could bet against that? The Broncos are looking forward to possibly having senior forward Emily Barry return for the post-season from a foot stress fracture.

But either way, defense will rule.

“Our matchup zone is really a team thing,” he said. “There’s no one individual.”

One more thing the Alvirne defense can create: winning.