Billerica Brandishes Balance As Sophomore Lifts Indians Past Haverhill
BILLERICA -- One of the underlying traits of the Billerica High girls basketball team under ninth-year head coach Chris Doneski has been that the Indians spread the wealth on the offensive end.
But that doesn’t mean Billerica is devoid of players capable of handling an increased load in the scoring department. If need be, there are several capable candidates to take over.
On Tuesday night, sophomore guard Sydney Sartell answered the call with a game-high 21-points to propel Billerica to a tough 56-48 Merrimack Valley Conference win over visiting Haverhill. Sartell found a rhythm early, erupting for 15 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
″(Sartell) played for us last year as a freshman, she was like our sixth or seventh player,” said Doneski, whose team improved to 2-1. “She’s played three great games so far, and she was tough as nails last year. She’s been taking the next step so far this season.
“The balanced scoring has been a product of me being fortunate to have kids who can really play and understand what we’re trying to do. On any given night, someone can be the top scorer.”
Eight players scored for Billerica, but Sartell was the only one in double-figures. Senior forward and captain Haley Reinold had nine points, eight rebounds and four assists before leaving the game late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury that required her to be helped off the court. Junior Madison Bonvie added eight points and five rebounds.
Haverhill entered the contest having won its first three games of the season by an average of over 28 points.
“Haverhill has been playing really well,” said Doneski. “They have a transfer and a couple of freshmen, who have been playing really well, and their post player is a three-year varsity player, who has really developed.”
Another staple of Billerica basketball in recent years has been that the Indians don’t panic when things get tight. That was evident once again when the persistent Hillies (3-1) fought back to make it a two-point contest with three minutes to play. Senior guard Latasha Settles (11 points) banked home a difficult 15-footer to make it 47-45. Settles and junior forward Leandra Kwo (14 points) were the only Hillies in double-digits.
Billerica settled down and limited turnovers against the Haverhill press. On the other end, the Indians made their free throws when it counted -- they went 15-for-21 for the game. Senior guard and captain Erin Cann went 5-for-6 from the stripe.
“We were having trouble inbounding the ball with some of our younger kids in there,” Doneski said. “They’re still going through some of those growing pains. So we drew up some plays that would help us get up the floor and not get caught in that in-between of breaking the press and deciding whether to take a shot or come back out and set-up the offense.”
The Indians ended the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 31-22 lead at the break. Sophomore Gia Ames (seven points) scored five straight to put the Indians up 45-31 in the third quarter.
The Hillies, however, roared back with an 8-0 run to close the third quarter and make it 45-39 heading into the final frame.