Mahar's Kianna Whitmore, center, dives for a loose ball during Thursday night's basketball contest in Orange. The Senators fell to undefeated South Hadley 62-43. Photo By Josh TalbotMahar's Kadie Jillson (5) flips a shot towards the basket as South Hadley's Alexis Gawron (20) steps in front during Thursday's basketball contest in Orange. Photo By Josh TalbotMahar's Kianna Reilly, left, attempts to make a pass around South Hadley defender Sophie Gatzounas during Thursday's basketball contest in Orange. Photo By Josh TalbotMahar's Hannah Paul, left, drives past South Hadley's Mikhaila Edge during Thursday's basketball contest in Orange. Photo By Josh Talbot

Lady Senators can't keep pace in 62-43 loss to South Hadley

ORANGE — South Hadley kept its foot on the throttle and the Mahar girls’ basketball team couldn’t keep pace in a 62-43 loss, Thursday night.

The Tigers’ uptempo approach led to an action-packed contest that saw the two teams combine for 122 shots. In the end, South Hadley made more of them including 10 three-pointers.

“They’re a very, very good team,” said Mahar head coach Larry Fisher. “We gambled that their outside shots wouldn’t fall and they did fall.”

The final score is misleading as the Lady Senators led the undefeated Tigers (7-0) throughout much of the first half.

I’m proud of the way my kids played,” said Fisher. “To stick with a team that is ranked as high as they are says something for us. We’ll be competing every night for here on out.”

Junior guard Kadie Jillson looked like the best player on the floor during the first quarter as the Senators earned a 13-12 lead after one. Jillson had nine points in the quarter, but a trifecta by Isabella Earle at the end of the frame helped South Hadley stay within one.

The Senators continued to lead throughout much of the second quarter until a basket from Marley Medina gave the Tigers a 25-23 lead with 1:40 left in the half. A pair of baskets by Kianna Reilly helped Mahar hold the lead earlier in the quarter. Kianna Whitmore, Jillson and Jazmyn Vautour also had hoops during the stretch. 

Medina’s basket was backed up by a Earle trifecta and Alexia Gawron banked another three-pointer as time expired to give South Hadly a 31-25 lead at the half.

Mahar stayed close early in the third as Ally Parker got into the offensive attack. Another Gawron trifecta with six minutes to play in the frame gave South Hadley a 36-29 lead and forced the Senators out of their zone defense and into a man-to-man. The switch proved fatal as the Tigers closed the quarter on a 16-4 run to put the game out of reach, 52-35.

“We tried man-to-man and they didn’t work,” said Fisher. “We don’t match up well against them man-to-man and give them credit for hitting a lot of threes.”

Jillson led Mahar with 13 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Her strong play early appeared to surprise the Tigers who paid her more attention in the second half.

“The first quarter and a half they didn’t know who the heck she was,” said Fisher. “They woke up and realized (she could play) and changed their plan.”

Parker (three steals), Hannah Paul (two blocks, two assists) and Natalie Gonynor (five rebounds) netted six points each in the loss. Whitmore and Reilly added four points apiece. Vautour and Maeve Powell chipped in two each.

Sophie Gatzounas led the Tigers with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks despite a slow start. The South Hadley star was just 1-of-7 in the first quarter before heating up. She finished the night 7-of-20.

Gawron added 15 points, all on three-pointers. Earle and Medina chipped in nine apiece.

The Senators (4-2) return to action on Monday when they visit Granby.

Mahar squeaked out the junior varsity contest, 46-44.

Sophia Apteker and Abby Bonk helped the Senators to a 13-11 lead after a quarter of play, but the Tigers came storming back to take a 25-18 halftime advantage.

The hot-hand of Kailyn Patria and strong defensive efforts by Elysha Bedard and Lauren Henne helped the Senators crawl back into the contest as they trailed by just two, 33-31, entering the fourth.

Alivia Liberty caught fire in the fourth and Elina Gordon-Halpern wiped the boards clean as Mahar sealed the victory.

Patria led the victors with 10 points. Bonk and Liberty added nine points apiece. Bedard chipped in seven points. Apteker added four points while Henne chipped in three. Delaney Parker and Sarah Gareff tacked on two points apiece.

Athol Daily News

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