LEXINGTON — Playing its first state tournament game in a decade on Wednesday night, the Boston Latin girls’ basketball team was also playing in front of the biggest crowd it has seen all season, including a relentless student section.
“It wasn’t so much intimidating as much as I just couldn’t hear myself call plays, that was rough,” senior guard Deirbhile Martin said after the 41-27 loss to Lexington at Lexington High in the Division 1 North first round.
With fellow seniors Mary DeMoura and Ashley Guillame injured the entire season, Martin was all the Wolfpack had as far as senior leadership this season. But this year’s team has eight juniors who are keyed up for next season.
“I definitely think it’s the start of something and I think being the only senior is a good thing because coming back next year they only have one person they are losing, so they are only going to get stronger,” said Martin, whose next organized basketball game will be during intramurals as a Harvard freshman this fall.
“It hit me [that it was my last game] with two minutes left in the game when I realized we were going to lose," she said. "It’s rough.”
While Martin wasn’t so fazed by the large crowd, Latin’s 6-foot-2-inch junior center Margaret Mulligan was a little more daunted by it.
“The crowd got into our heads,” she said after scoring a team-high 11 points. “This was an emotional game, but I think we needed to stay focused and we kind of let it slip.”
And while Mulligan was intimidated by the crowd, Lexington was intimidated by Mulligan when the game started.
“People were saying ‘Oh she’s like 6-5,’” said Lexington freshman point guard Anna Kelly, who scored a game-high 22 points for the Minutemen (16-5). “Once we learned she goes left every single time, we could just double down on her and it was a lot easier and we got our defense going and it just worked out.”
Boston Latin managed to hold Kelly scoreless in the first quarter but it also struggled to feed the ball into Mulligan. Still, the Wolfpack managed to control most of an ugly and low scoring half, even if it didn’t show up on the scoreboard.
But Kelly finally got her jumpshot going with 1:26 left in the half when she nailed a 3-pointer to put her team up, 11-8. Mulligan responded with a 3-point-play to tie the game before Kelly drilled another 3-pointer with 47 seconds left in the half.
Lexington senior guard Kristyn Kajko stole the ball and scored with 10 seconds left in the half to give her team a 16-11 edge at the break.
Lexington outscored Latin, 17-7, in the third quarter to break open the game.
“That’s how we are, we are contagiously offensive team,” Lexington coach Steve Solly said. “When we score, it’s in bunches, it’s in pockets like that. We got a lot of effort from a lot of people.
“Boston Latin is a good team. I’m proud of our kids. I loved the environment. Our crowd was amazing. So hopefully we can take this and build on it in the next round.”
A handful of vocal Latin students did make the trek to Lexington on Wednesday, only to watch the Wolfpack end their season at 14-7.
“We have a nice loyal fan base,” fourth-year Latin coach Kerri Orellana said. “I’m very proud of what these girls have done. I don’t think anyone expected that of us coming into the season. But they’ve been working really hard. We’re going to take a little bit of time off and I’m going to start getting ready for next year.”
Mulligan said she will spend the offseason getting stronger physically.
“It’s awesome that we made it this far and I’m so proud of my team,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better season.”
And while Mulligan said she will miss Martin’s senior leadership, she can’t wait to have a senior-laden squad next winter.
“It’s going to be tough working out playing time but I think that it will be great,” she said. “We’ll have big strong experienced players and we’ll see how it goes.”
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