West uses balance to get by rival East

The Cranston Herald ·

Cranston West defended its home court on Friday night, executing its defensive game plan en route to securing a 46-34 victory over rival Cranston East in Division I girls’ basketball action.

The Falcons featured a balanced scoring attack, with Elizabth Marses netting a game-high 13 points, followed by Lauren Plociak with 10 points and Marissa Cushman with nine.

“We’ve had that all year,” West head coach P.J. Thibodeau said of his team’s balanced scoring. “There’s been no consistent player, everyone has had one game where they step up and take charge. Ultimately, that’s what I want for this program. I don’t want to have to count on just one person, I want everyone to be involved.”

After back-and-forth action for much of the first half, West was able to pull in front when Cushman drained a pair of free throws to give the Falcons an 11-9 edge.

Plociak then made it a five-point game with a minute left in the half on an and-1, but East’s Hope Halvarson was able to knock down a 3 at the other end to trim the ’Bolts’ deficit to just two.

However, West was able to grab the momentum back going into the break when Kelly Lambrese drove to the lane and floated a shot in to push West’s lead to 20-16 at the half.

East’s Maia Caito ultimately finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards, but West was able to hold her to just six points in the first half, actively denying her the ball in the post and forcing others to take shots.

“She had to be the focus because she’s a great player,” Thibodeau said of defending Caito. “If you let her get the ball on the post, you’re dead to rights. She’s just that good. We tried to make her uncomfortable and throw different people at her in different ways. It worked, and it’s just a credit to how focused our girls were.”

West continued its strong play, starting the second half with an 8-0 run, highlighted by an and-1 play from Cushman.

Anayah Melgar tried to get something going for East when she splashed a triple to make it a 10-point game with 7:30 remaining.

But the Falcons kept the pedal to the floor. They hit the offensive glass before Mia James finished at the hoop to up the West lead to 12 with 5:24 left.

After an East bucket, Marses then banked a shot in off the glass to help the Falcons maintain their double-digit advantage.

East pressed down the stretch in an attempt to get back in the game and make up its deficit, but the Falcons were too solid in the waning minutes.

Other than Caito, Halvarson chipped in seven points for East, while Melgar added six points and eight steals and Gabby Baigorria compiled four points and 10 boards.

Outside of Marses, Plociak and Cushman for West, Lambrese contributed seven points and James added four.

Both teams went on to earn wins on Monday night. The Falcons defeated Wheeler, 54-49, in non-league action behind a team-high 17 points from Katie Blake, while East bounced back with a 39-30, division win at Cumberland, as Caito led all scorers with 17 points.

East was set to oppose La Salle on Wednesday, but results were unavailable at press time. The ’Bolts will conclude regular-season play on Friday when they host Smithfield at 7 p.m.

As for West, its game against Cumberland on Tuesday didn’t have a result as of press time. The Falcons will travel to La Salle on Friday evening for a 7 p.m. start.

This story was originally posted by The Cranston Herald. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.


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