WESTBROOK – Quick baskets by Avery Tucker and Morgan Rice put the Blazes out front of the Storm early on Monday afternoon, Dec. 16, and strong Westbrook defense forced Scarborough to miss their first five shots. But the Storm, No. 2 in AA South, soon battled back, seizing control midway through the first and never relinquishing it again. Hash this one in Scarborough’s win column, 50-32.
The result was roughly what Scarborough head coach Mike Giordano expected, going in. “I thought they struggled to score,” he said of the Blazes, “but they’re very aggressive and we needed to do a good job on the glass to kind of balance that out.”
“It was nice to get off to that lead,” said Westbrook head coach Todd Day. “But we knew we were in for a game; we knew we were going to have to play great defense the whole game. If you take your eyes off a couple of their scorers for a minute, they can hurt you.”
Westbrook maintained their 4-0 lead for the first few minutes, but when the Storm finally made landfall, they rained buckets and buckets on their hosts. Though the Blazes silenced most of the Storm for the entire quarter, all Scarborough needed to build a head of steam was for one girl to catch fire. That girl turned out to be Sophie Glidden, who added all 13 of the Storm’s points in the stretch, knocking down a three, four deuces and two frees.
“She’s an excellent player,” Day said of Glidden. “She’s added a perimeter shot to her game – I was at Scarborough the last three years, so I know these kids. She has become an inside-out threat right now, and she’s tough to stop with her length. No matter who you put on her, she can create that shot on her own. And a couple times, we didn’t recognize her, later in the game, and she got those shots off. But you have to give her credit.”
The Blazes’ hands heated up a bit more in the second, when Mikayla Van Zandt tallied five and Julia Martel two, but the team’s seven still paled in comparison to Scarborough’s 16. Stormers Lindsey Kelley, Brooke Malone and Bella Dickinson contributed during that time, Malone with a pair of threes.
Defensively, the Blazes turned some explosive moments throughout the game: Tucker, for instance, logged two or three ferocious stuffs. But the Storm were far too comfortable shooting from the outside for Westbrook to rely on aggressive stops in the paint. Indeed, Scarborough sank eight downtowners on the afternoon, five in the first half alone, as well as a bevy of deep twos. 29-11 at the break.
“That’s what they were giving us,” Giordano said of Westbrook’s defense forcing his girls to shoot from outside. “As an offense, you have to realize, what are they giving you, what are they taking away? And they were giving us the perimeter shot. Sophie hit a bunch and so did Brooke, our two Captains, our leaders. They got us going, offensively, and gave us that cushion we had.”
“We switched it up,” Day said. “We played three different defenses and it didn’t seem to matter which one we were in. We were very effective down low – they didn’t get many points in the paint at all; I thought our interior defense was excellent. It was that perimeter defense, or them getting second-chance opportunities on rebounds – they kicked it out and got wide-open shots.”
Impressively, the Blazes never quit, and tightened up the action significantly in the downhill minutes. Glidden kicked off the third with a three for the Storm, but that’s when Westbrook finally seemed to settle down. The team responded with their single cleanest possession yet, whipping four or five sharp passes around the perimeter before Julia Symbol sank a beautiful no-dribble three.
Symbol was on Scarborough’s radar from the get-go. “We scouted her,” Giordano said, “and she can shoot the three-ball, and we wanted to make sure when she caught it, she had company. I thought we did a pretty good job with that.”
Martel looked especially sharp on the attack in the third, notching seven consecutive points and ten overall, including a pair of threes. Scarborough still outscored the Blazes in those eight minutes, 19-13, but Westbrook had found their footing.
“We didn’t really recognize her as a shooter,” Giordano said of Martel, “and now we’re two or three shots in and now we’ve got to recognize. And we were still a little bit late with our young kids, recognizing that she could shoot it.”
“Our kids got a little demoralized in the first half,” Day said, “when Scarborough got out to that big lead. If you look in the third quarter, when we settled things down and we took our time and shot the ball, we were effective.”
Indeed, the Blazes largely controlled the fourth, holding the Storm to just two points – by Ariana Strezgowski – while managing to pile up eight of their own. All told, both teams totaled 21 in the latter half of the game. Nevertheless, the day ultimately went Scarborough’s way.
Glidden earned the game-high score, with 21. Martel followed her with 15. 11th-ranked Westbrook slips to 3-8 on the result. The team travels to Marshwood (No. 3 at 10-1) on Friday the 20th. Scarborough, meanwhile, jumps to 9-1. Next up on their docket: a home bout with last-place Noble (0-9).
Morgan Rice fights her way toward the basket vs. Scarborough.
Mikayla Van Zandt flails in midair, pursuing a rebound vs. Scarborough.
Westbrook’s Michaela Russell pushes forward on the attack.
Scarboroughite Jordyn Cowan gets air over Blazes defenders Logan Tibbetts (left) and Morgan Rice (right).
Westbrooker Julia Martel drives around Scarboroughite Julia Freeman.
Julia Martel leaps into a layup attempt vs. Scarborough on Monday.
Westbrook’s Julia Symbol battles Stormers Josie Couture (12) and Lindsey Kelley (3).
Westbrooker Avery Tucker surveys her pass options on the attack vs. Scarborough.
Quincey Lyden unfurls into a shot underneath.