HYANNIS — Momentum is everything.
With the host Barnstable Red Raiders (2-2) gathering steam with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, the visiting St. John Paul II Lions (2-0) came up with an answer to stop the bleeding: sophomore guard Olivia Bengston.
With 2:18 remaining in the third quarter, and the Lions leading 29-16, Barnstable senior captain Molly Tilton stole the ball and took it coast to coast, laying in a pretty finger roll off the glass to make it 29-18. St. John Paul II head coach Mike Tierney then called time out (2:08) and tried to come up with a plan that would keep the hosts at a distance and keep the Lions’ hard-earned, game-long lead. But an intense and effective defensive effort by junior forward Megan Dombrowski on the Lions’ end enabled senior point guard Margot Rice a window of opportunity. Rice stole the ball and took it down the floor for two and drew the foul. Rice converted on the free throw and the winds of good fortune seemed to be on the Red Raiders’ side. The score was 29-21, with the Lions still ahead.
But that pretty much did it for the Red Raiders, who had played an intense, lengthy game less than 15 hours earlier. The hosts simply could not outrun the well-rested Lion five. That reality was punctuated heavily when Bengston — who led all scorers with 17 points in this rare, mid-afternoon tilt — leaned off a pair of Barnstable defenders just outside the top of the arc and drilled a gorgeous lefty three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer. In less than 90 seconds, the Lions re-established an insurmountable, 36-23 lead over the Red Raiders and had sapped what strength the hosts seemed to have left.
“There were a few times when I thought we’d get back into it,” said 2nd year head coach Vanessa Cedrone. “But it was a fast-paced, high energy game and just didn’t have our legs on us today.”
That point was driven home in the fourth quarter where Barnstable was held scoreless for the first time in more than twenty years. The St. John Paul II Lions relied heavily on free throws in the final frame — they went 5-8 from the line in the 4th quarter — but still, they finished on a 13-0 run to end it.
“I’m happy with the start,” Tierney said of his team’s 2-0 record this week to open the 2014-15 campaign. “But there are still alot of things we’re not doing that well and we need to work on. We’ll get there.”
As mentioned above, Bengston led all scorers with 17 points, including three three-pointers while the Kaia Whiteley turned in 15 points and her sister, senior captain Haley Whiteley recorded 13 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Jess Tierney dished out 10 assists and had 7 points, including a downtown trey in the first quarter.
St. John Paul II led at all junctures of the game, establishing a 13-7 lead in the first, a 26-15 lead at halftime and a 36-23 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Barnstable 8th grader Carly Whiteside led all Red Raiders with five points on the afternoon, four of which came in the first half.
— Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm.