HINHGAM – A late Panthers charge was not enough Friday evening as the Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ basketball team fell to Westwood 47-40 in the consolation game of the Hingham Holiday Hoops Classic.
“I told the girls it’s never a matter about play as hard as we can, you always bring that intensity,” W-H head coach Jenna Olem said. “It’s about playing a little bit smarter, taking care of the ball a little bit better and really just our Achilles heel all year has just been being able to put the ball in the basket when it counts.”
The Panthers hung with the Wolverines for a majority of the contest but a tough third quarter proved too much to overcome.
W-H (2-3) found itself in a hole early on as Westwood opened the game on a 7-2 run, sparked by five points from senior captain Haley Connaughton, as the Wolverines knocked down three of their first seven shots from the field.
The Panthers, despite nine turnovers in the quarter, clawed their way back to tie the game at 10-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Westwood (5-1), which connected on four of its first seven field goals to begin the second, started to ramp up the defensive pressure on the Panthers — limiting them to eight points in the quarter — and took a 23-18 advantage into halftime.
The Wolverines opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run to push their lead to double digits at 28-18.
Back-to-back field goals extended the Wolverines, who missed a string of nine consecutive field goals in the quarter, lead even further as they held W-H to four points to extend their lead to 35-22 entering the final frame.
“Sometimes we’re just beating ourselves in not being able to capitalize on the chances we need to and not go on enough runs,” Olem said. “We’ll get stops, but we won’t get any baskets to counter those stops.”
Back in it
Trailing 43-32 with 2:08 to go, things started to jell for the Panthers offense as they went on an 8-2 run — capped by Erin Leahy’s 3-pointer — to slice the Wolverines lead to 45-40 with nine ticks remaining.
However, Westwood was able to successfully inbound the ball after the make and two makes from the charity stripe squashed the W-H comeback.
“We only scored four points in the third quarter and then I put my defensive lineup in there a little bit and we held them and we scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and definitely gave ourselves a chance to win,” Olem said
McVeigh paced the Panther attack with 11 points as O’Brien chipped in nine.
At the conclusion of the game, McVeigh and O’Brien were named to the All-Tournament Team.
“They’re phenomenal,” Olem said. “I can’t ask for better coached players, better leaders, more experienced good kids. They’ve given me everything they got every time and they’re a great model for the entire program.”
W-H returns to Patriot League action at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6 at Plymouth North.
“We just got to get back to work,” Olem said. “We’ve been practicing really hard. We have to try to win one game each week to get into the tournament.”