The No. 4 Sailors take on No. 2 Reading at the TD Garden on Tuesday.
Scituate (24-0) faltered in the first quarter, trailing 15-10 at the buzzer, but coach Brian Buckley knew they had it in them to make a comeback later in the game.
“I thought [Natick] dominated in the first quarter with their physical toughness inside,” Buckley said. “They got all the loose balls.”
Natick senior guard Lexi Gifford (28 points) took advantage of the scoring opportunities, shooting 3 for 4 from deep in the first quarter alone. She added another trey in the second quarter and finished with 20 points in the first half.
“Lexi was hot early and I think she lost her legs in the second half a little bit,” Buckley said. “That was kind of our gameplan, to wear her down. She played so well in the first half I said I don’t know if we’re going to be able to wear her down.”
The Red and Blue held onto a dominant lead in the second quarter, going up by 8 with 2:45 left until halftime (23-15), but Scituate went on a 7-2 run to tighten it up.
Coach Buckleyn made sure his team knew that they were going to have to play tough, fundamental basketball in the second half if they wanted to advance to the Div. 2 State semifinals.
“I said ‘If you want to win this, you’ve got to do what you’ve been doing all year, which is be aggressive’,” Buckley said. “I think they had their legs under them at that point and they really played up to their potential.”
The pep talk worked. Scituate came out and blazed a trail to the top, taking its first lead of the game just under a minute into the third quarter, 28-26 after Shannon Brady (14 points) and Megan Otto (14 points, five rebounds) hit back to back jumpers.
It was back and forth for the next two minutes, but Scituate went on a 11-0 run to end the quarter and had a 43-32 advantage going into the fourth. Natick went 3 for 11 in the third quarter, compared to 9 for 14 from the Sailors.
Defense, which coach Buckley believes won the game, was key in the fourth quarter. Neither team scored more than 10 points but Scituate outrebounded Natick 5-1 to clinch the win.
“The defense really won the game for us, although I thought our offense clicked in the second half a little bit better,” Buckley said. “The kids took pride in the defense.”
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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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
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