Watertown played a strong first half of Tuesday’s Div. 2 girls basketball state semifinal, but the Raiders could not keep up with Duxbury in the second half, and fell 49-30.
Both teams came into the game at the TD Garden in Boston undefeated and the Raiders (21-1) kept pace with the Dragons (25-0), and even built a 26-22 halftime lead. During the break, Duxbury head coach Robert Sullivan said he challenged his team.
“I don’t know how many layups we gave up in the first half but it was many too many. Probably more than the fist 24 games,” Sullivan said. “(Duxbury guard) Jaqui Sullivan is one of the best defenders in the state and the first half (Watertown junior guard Michaela) Antonellis hurt her. I challenger her at half time and she responded.”
Watertown’s first half scoring was led by Antonellis’ 8 points, followed by 7 by sophomore Shannon Murphy.
“We thought we would dribble drive and people would get in spots where we would get mid-range jump shots,” said Watertown head coach Pat Ferdinand. “Early on we did.”
The Dragons came out in the second half roaring on offense and clamping down on defense. Using their pair of big players – 6-foot-4 center Molly Quilty and 6-foot-1 forward Catherine Harrison – they ground out a lead in the third quarter and held Watertown to just one basket.
Murphy matched up against Harrison most of the game.
“She’s very tough, I respect her a lot,” Murphy said.
Antonellis said the Dragons made it difficult for the Raiders to penetrate and get good shots.
“They were just big they were really tough. It was hard to get by them,” Antonellis said. “They were a very good team they deserved to win, they got more physical in the second half.”
Watertown’s biggest player, 6-foot-2 Murphy, fouled out about midway through the fourth quarter, which hurt the Raiders on both sides of the court.
“I thought Shannon played a great game,” Murphy said. “Some of those calls were pretty tough, but it is what it is.”
Watertown made it a step further than the past two years, winning the North Section final. The players and coaches will start preparing for next year.
Ferdinand said his team has come a long way and he looks forward to next year.
“We’re a small school, small numbers, I don’t think basketball is our biggest sport, but we are really passionate about what we do,” Ferdinand said. “I’m so lucky and blessed to have such a great coaching staff. We have great kids who are smart, intelligent, who are willing to get coached and who want to work as hard as they can.
“You always want to go further, but sometimes you run into juggernauts.”
When the pain of the loss fades, Antonellis said she thinks she will remember the accomplishments of this season.
“I know its awful now, it feels awful, but it is going to make us better people,” Antonellis said. “You just have to think about the whole season, how great we did, and everything we accomplished.”