GROTON – In what could go down as one of the best games of the season, the Nashoba Chieftans overcame a 12-point deficit to squeak by the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders, 61-59, at G-DRHS Tuesday night.
With her team down by six entering the fourth quarter, Nashoba center Nikkiah Snoddy (24 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, two steals) went off. She scored nine points in the final session and factored in the final two plays of the game that sealed the victory. First, with under 15 seconds to go and the score tied at 59, she drew a double-team at the elbow, then found a cutting Erin Cressman (seven points, eight rebounds, three assists) for the go-ahead layup. Then after a G-D timeout with 7.5 seconds left, the Crusaders, who went cold offensively and scored just six points in the final eight minutes, hesitated to get the final shot off before Snoddy blocked the last-ditch effort with ease as the clock expired.
“We didn’t have an answer for [Snoddy],” G-D head coach Mark Hennelly said. “But I can’t fault the kids’ effort. It was a monumental step forward in comparison to the last couple [of games].”
The Crusaders played had to play catch-up themselves, trailing by as much as 11 early in the second quarter. But after Hennelly called timeout with 6:14 left, the Crusaders found their rhythm and outscored the Chieftains 22-6 to take a 37-32 lead into halftime. Lindsay Werner fueled the G-D offense, scoring 17 of her 24 points in the first half, while also collecting five rebounds, four steals, and two assists. Jenna Plausse also had a great game for the Crusaders, registering a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds).
“Lindsay is going to be one of the most talented players on the floor on any given night,” Hennelly said. “She’s such a coachable kid.”
Hennelly also had high praise for Plausse: “Every single practice, every single game, I’ve never seen her take a breath. I’ll live and die with whatever happens with Jenna Plausse. She’ll play any position, she’ll guard any player.”
Both teams were plagued by turnovers, with Nashoba’s Kevyn Green doing the most damage – she collected eight steals, six in the first half, along with seven points and four rebounds.
“There were too many ill-conceived passes on our part,” Hennelly said. “It’s a double-edged sword. We have guards that can turn up the pace and make other teams turn it over, but sometimes we play too fast and we give it back. We’re trying to learn to play fast defensively and slow down offensively.”
G-D was helped out by Melyssa Langell (nine points, four rebounds), Nikki Eggimann (seven points, four rebounds). and Hanna Van Pelt (two points, eight rebounds). Nashoba received contributions from Kelly Poole (eight points, seven assists, five steals, three rebounds), Nicole Boucher (six points, three rebounds) Afton Burrell (five points, two rebounds).
“Langell’s defense was outstanding, and her offensive contributions took a step up,” Hennelly lauded. “And we need that from her. When she’s doing that, we’re a very tough team. She’s been working so exceptionally hard at practice.”
The win allowed the Chieftains to remain unbeaten at 7-0, while G-D fell to 4-4 with the loss. But Hennelly is already looking forward to the rematch at Nashoba on January 30.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we certainly can play with them,” he said. “I expect to go down there and have every opportunity to beat them in a couple of weeks.”
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