Photo Gallery | Taconic girls basketball tops Lenox
LENOX >> The Taconic girls basketball team relied on good shooting early and better defense late to score a 49-28 win over Lenox on the road on Wednesday.
Brittany Henault hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Taconic knocked down five as a team, taking a 19-12 lead after one that continued to balloon as the game went on.
Taconic built the lead to nine, 30-21, at halftime, then a stingy defensive effort in the second half limited the Millionaires to three points in the third and four in the fourth to seal the win.
"I thought our defense was what the difference was tonight," Taconic coach Matt Mickle said. "We played a triangle-and-2 on Alice [Najimy] and Jackie [Hathaway], and I thought the girls did a good job with it.
"I just thought that we did a good job of guarding them and a good job of helping. That was the talk before the game, was let's have somebody else beat us and minimize [Najimy and Hathaway's] damage that they do to us."
Janee Walker came off the bench to lead the Braves with 13 points, while Maddie Quinto added eight.
"[Taconic] shot the ball pretty well tonight, especially in the first quarter," Lenox coach Mike Nykorchuck said. "The way the game started I thought it was going to be an entertaining game and that halted pretty quick."
The key stretch for Taconic in the game came in the eight minutes out of the break. The Braves came out and scored the first two buckets of the period to go up 34-21, then after a bucket and a free throw from Hathaway (5 points) trimmed the deficit to 34-24, the Braves got threes from Walker and Ashley Rufo (6 points) to take a 40-24 lead into the fourth.
"They did a good job of identifying our scorers, Jackie and Alice," Nykorchuck said. "They played a triangle-and-2, and the bottom line is we didn't have any other players outside of Nicole Gamberoni (team-high 10 points) hit any shots. There was no reason for them to get out of that triangle-and-2."
The win pushes Taconic to 5-13 on the year with two games to go, while Lenox falls to 4-14. With both teams out of the playoff picture this season, both coaches touched on the importance to trying to finish strong with young squads.
For Mickle, who does not have a senior on his roster, the strong defensive effort against Lenox was important to boost the confidence going into the final two games.
"At this point of the year, my girls are good kids and we are trying to take any positive we can," Mickle said. "It's been frustrating for us. We've had a real tough run of it against good teams, so any positive you can take, especially with something like [our defense] – our goal tonight was to hold them to a low score, and that's exactly what we did."
On the opposite sideline, Nykorchuck also touched on his team's relative youth — only Brie LaChance is a senior — and the importance of continuing to work.
"I think they turned a corner this year where they know they can compete with teams," Nykorchuck said. "We might not have showed it tonight, but they were pretty encouraged by that all year. This year we learned how to compete, next year we have to learn how to win."
Quinto finished with eight rebounds and three assists for Taconic, and Riana Gittens added six points, eight rebounds and two blocks. For Lenox, Najimy finished with four points and seven rebounds, while Hathaway added seven boards and two dimes.
Walker 5-0-13, Henault 3-0-9, Valentine 0-0-0, Quinto 3-2-8, Gittens 1-4-6, Rufo 2-0-6, Rodriguez 1-2-5, Paris 1-0-2, Lazits 0-0-0. Totals 16-8-49.
LaChance 0-0-0, Brown 1-0-2, Najimy 2-0-4, Hathaway 1-3-5, Gamberoni 4-2-10, R. Pehlert 2-0-4, Sibley 0-0-0, Arace 1-1-3. Totals 11-6-28.
3-point goals — T 9 (Henault 3, Walker 3, Rufo 2, Rodriguez).