It’s no secret that the Oliver Ames girls’ basketball team prides itself on having a solid defensive effort.
Once again, that approach paid dividends Friday night at the Nixon Gymnasium as the Lady Tigers cruised to a 60-19 victory over and improved to 6-0 on the season (2-0 Davenport Division/Hockomock League).
“It was top to bottom one of the better efforts in terms of their contributions,” said OA coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook. “We talk about playing as a team and having good teamwork and I was proud with how everyone performed tonight.”
From the opening whistle, OA was just a step ahead of the pack.
As part of a 21-2 first quarter run, the Lady Tigers forced 10 of Stoughton’s 30 turnovers Friday night and used the transition game to their advantage. Senior co-captain Candace Steadman scored 10 of her 14 points during the first eight minutes, while leading scorer Caitlyn Abela (15 points) helped spark the run with her inside/outside presence.
Due to the slow start, Stoughton had to adjust its gameplan and couldn’t regroup as the Black Knights fell to 2-3 on the year (1-2 league, 1-1 division).
“That first quarter didn’t help us,” Stoughton head coach Janet Sullivan said. “We turned it over on eight of our first 10 possessions and had some defensive lapses along the way.
“We learned that we had a gameplan coming in and we abandoned it early and suffered the consequences. We didn’t do what we wanted to do, but we didn’t quit. Give OA credit they were the better team.”
OA ‘s first quarter defense caused Stoughton to change its strategy. As a result, the Lady Tigers forced the Black Knights to 25 percent shooting on the night (7-of-28) while outrebounding them by a large margin.
“Defensively, this was one of the best efforts that we had as a group,” said Clement-Holbrook. “We dream of a game where we can get 30 rebounds and hold our team to under 30 points and at halftime we had 21 rebounds. The collection of talent that came through tonight was outstanding.”
While Abela and Steadman were the leading scorers, OA got several contributions from its lineup.
Junior Lexi Gold nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, while classmate Kristen Ellis led her team with 10 rebounds and senior co-captain Emily Romans contributed with five rebounds and four assists.
The frontcourt presence shut down penetration lanes for Stoughton’s Nicole Daniels (six rebounds) and Chrystal Holland (six points) and forced them to look elsewhere for offense.
“It was so impressive the way they were able to keep them off the glass,” Clement-Holbrook said about the frontcourt trio. “Chrystal Holland and Nicole Daniels are factors up front and I thought we stopped them in penetration and forced them to take shots in places where they didn’t want to take them.”
Stoughton looks to bounce back against King Philip Monday night at 6:30 p.m.
OA travels to Franklin (leaders of the Kelley-Rex Division) in a mid-season clash between the Hock’s top two teams Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.