WESTBROOK–Mikayla Van Zandt propelled the Blazes to their second win of the winter when Fryeburg came to town on Friday night, Jan. 4: Van Zandt tallied 16 points and 15 rebounds as Westbrook triumphed 47-39.
“It is a huge confidence builder for us, especially winning at home,” Westbrook head coach Diana Manduca said of the victory. “We just wanted to come out and be very competitive and be aggressive and kind of set the tempo, since we are on our home court.”
The sides swapped the lead several times in the opening quarter: Van Zandt kicked off the scoring with back-to-back twos, only to see Fryeburger Tina LeBlanc turn a steal into two and a pair of LeBlanc’s fellow Raiders, Kaylee Emery and Brooke Emery, convert on three straight free-throws. 5-4.
Elizabeth Cole answered for Westbrook, knocking down a couple frees of her own for 6-5, but Merys Carter flipped the script again, banking in a two for 7-6. Then Abigail Symbol put her girls back on top with a three, 10-7, and after that – well, after that, the Blazes never trailed again.
“We talk about consistency a lot, and mental toughness, and really executing the plays,” Manduca said. “We actually had double-digits in each quarter, which I don’t think we’ve gotten. For us, that consistency was key. We usually have a quarter where had have two, three, four points.”
Sure, Fryeburg pulled close to Westbrook a handful of times as the game progressed. They trailed by a mere two, 11-9, at the end of the first, for example. At the start of the second, however, the Blazes surged out front 17-9 on points by Van Zandt, Michaela Russell and Cole – Cole’s contribution, a three-point play, followed a pair of beautiful passes: First, Russell chucked a long ball upcourt to Symbol, and then Symbol dished across underneath for Cole, who converted and drew the foul.
“We weren’t matched up the whole game – we had we had a few matchup issues,” Manduca said of those stretches when Fryeburg was able to pull close to her girls. “When we take timeouts, we calm down a little bit, refocus and come back out and really focus on each possession.”
Later in the second, the Raiders pulled within three at 21-18; they trailed by just four, 24-20, at the break. At the start of the third, though, Westbrook sprang into another run, dashing ahead 30-20 on a Quincey Lyden steal-drive-layup combo and a Jodi Sinnett rebound-layup combo. Sydney Mullet then pushed the Blazes to 35-21 at the close of the stretch with a pretty three.
“Very important for us: We had nine different scorers,” Manduca said, “and our goal is seven, so we hit our goal. This is the second straight game we’ve had nine different scorers, which is huge because we need…a team effort, and if we can have nine scorers and go nine deep, that’s going to help us, going through the season.”
Fryeburger Maddie Darling – who led her girls with 12 – caught fire early in the fourth, notching six quick as the Raiders battled back to within four at 35-31. But Westbrook surged one last time as the clock burned off, Van Zandt adding a two, Russell a three, Lyden a (long) two, and so forth. The Blazes led by 10 at 47-37, but LeBlanc collected the last bucket of the contest for the 47-39 final.
Beyond Van Zandt’s 16 points, Symbol finished with nine.
“Huge, huge boost of confidence for us,” Manduca reiterated. “We have a couple in-conference games that we’re really going to go after, and then we have a hard stretch. So this one was really important.”
Westbrook travels to Falmouth on Tuesday, Jan. 8, hosts Biddeford on Thursday the 10th and drops in on Bonny Eagle two days after that.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Sarah Muka makes for the basket.
Quincey Lyden gets air over a Fryeburger.
Sarah Muka ascends toward the basket.
Michaela Russell skirts a Raider en route to the net.
Mikayla Van Zandt crashes toward the net.
Sydney Mullett faces off with a Raiders opponent.
Jodi Sinnett penetrates for the Blazes.
Blaze Quincy Lyden pushes forward.
Abigail Symbol clashes with a Fryeburg opponent.
Abigail Symbol fires off a ball for the Blazes.
Mikayla Van Zandt led the Blazes in their win with 16 points (and 15 rebounds).
Avery Tucker lofts up a shot for the Blazes.
Westbrookers Michaela Russell (13) and Avery Tucker (3) wrestle with a Fryeburg opponent.