SUDBURY -- Lincoln-Sudbury girls' basketball coach Liza Feldman admitted it's been a tough week for the school. But in a time of grief, this community has rallied around each other and Tuesday night that extended to the basketball court.
Tenth-ranked Lincoln-Sudbury put together its most complete effort of the season, jumping out to a 19-point halftime advantage and rolling to a 57-33 triumph over visiting Acton-Boxboro in a Dual County League matchup at George L. Horton Memorial Gymnasium.
"I said to them before the game, 'Tonight, more than ever, we need to play as a team,'" said Feldman. "'We need to play together and we need to pick each other up. It doesn't matter whether you are injured and not playing at all, if you're coming off the bench or starting. We need every single person's focus, intensity and support.' And I think we really did have that."
Varsity players wore tape around their wrists with the initials of James Alenson, the young man who lost his life in last week's tragedy at the high school. The chance to focus their energy on the basketball court seemed a welcome relief to a emotionally exhausted squad.
Senior captain Carolyn Swords scored a team-high 18 points in just over 14 minutes of play, while junior Sarah Wetmore ran the offense brilliantly and chipped in 10 points of her own.
And while the win set up a conference showdown with front-running Westford Academy Friday night, this triumph clearly transcended wins and losses.
"James is in all of our hearts," Wetmore said while fighting back tears. "It was good."
Feldman agreed that this was exactly what her team needed after a trying weekend.
"We came in on Sunday and we had a team meeting, even though we were in touch all weekend," said Feldman. "We took practice time Sunday to just be together and talk. Honestly, I think they were eager to be focussed on something else. Not that it was easy for them to do that, but they embraced it. And why not, right?"
Swords produced a trio of consecutive low-post baskets to fuel a 12-0 spurt early in the first half that erased a four-point deficit and put the Warriors on top, 17-9, with 9:38 remaining.
Swords picked up her second foul just 15 seconds later and came to the bench, but her teammates picked the Warriors up. After Acton-Boxboro clawed within four, Lincoln-Sudbury senior captain Elana Carlson sparked another 12-0 burst with a pair of trifectas.
The Warriors ultimately outscored Acton-Boxboro, 32-9, over the final 12 minutes of the half and led 37-18 at the intermission.
With Swords back on the court in the second half, the lead only ballooned. The 6-foot-5, Boston College-bound center tossed in 10 points over the first 6:15 of the frame to highlight a 15-2 spurt that put the Warriors on top, 52-20, with 9:45 to go.
Swords called it a night at that point, having connected on 9 of 14 attempts from the floor and hauled in 8 rebounds. Shatasia Kearse chipped in 11 points overall, while Carlson added nine more. Lincoln-Sudbury's starting 5 scored all but two of the team's points.
Acton-Boxboro (8-4, 7-3) produced the game's final 11 points to bite into its deficit. Asked for a positive, coach Kathy Gallant pointed to her team's refusal to give up. But Lincoln-Sudbury's talent was too much.
"It's not one person," said Gallant. "It's five players for them."
Katy Rossino scored a team-high 10 points, while Erin Cartwright chipped in eight more (all in the first half). Gabby Goshtigian scored seven points off the bench in the second half.
Lincoln-Sudbury (9-2, 8-1) has now won seven straight and will try to avenge its only in-state loss when it travels to Westford Academy Friday night.
"This is a really good game for us heading into (Westford)," said Feldman. "We needed that challenge. We needed to play well. The team is feeling really good. And we needed this anyway because it's been a tough week. I think that if we can put things together, put a couple halves together like we did tonight... we should have a good chance."
Especially if the Warriors demonstrate the same "team" approach that guided them Tuesday.
"Everyone stepped it up big time," said Wetmore.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
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- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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