Gianna Palli (11) fights off a defender and passes the ball into the paint.
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Walpole and Wellesley High girls basketball entered the 2018-2019 season with the goal of winning their respective Bay State Conference divisions (Walpole – Herget, Wellesley – Carey), and making a run in the state tournament.
For Walpole, their potential this season relied heavily upon the two-headed double-double monster of reigning Bay State Conference MVP forward Jill White and Bay State Conference All-Star guard Sydney Scales. Despite an 0-2 start, the Lady-Rebels (2-4, 1-3) appeared to be finding their groove heading into Friday night’s clash with Wellesley after picking up a pair of victories against Brockton and Weymouth over the holiday break.
Wellesley, meanwhile, entered the contest still unblemished at 4-0, winning by an average margin of 18.5 points during their four-game win streak to begin the season. Like Walpole, Wellesley also returned some big names this season, including reigning Bay State Conference All-Star and senior captain Gianna Palli.
Behind a game-high 27 points by senior captain and shooting guard Brooke Guiffre, the Lady-Raiders outlasted the Rebels, 46-32, to stay perfect on the year at 5-0 and move to 2-0 in league play.
Unfortunately, the Rebels had to deal with more than just a loss on Friday night as Walpole lost Sydney Scales (10 points) to a leg injury late in the third quarter. The senior captain did not return and left the game on crutches. The injury could prove to be a big blow down the stretch of the season as Walpole fights for a tournament spot.
A 5-0 run in the form of a 3-point by Scales and a pair of free throws by Ainsley Dundon gave the Rebels a 5-3 lead early in the contest, but a pair of free throws by Allison Goehringer (six points) and a layup by Guiffre gave Wellesley back the lead at 7-5 at the end of one quarter.
Walpole took back the lead at 10-8 following a layup by Scales early in the second quarter. However, Wellesley proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a strong drive and finish by senior captain Amanda Minsk to take a 15-10 lead. Walpole cut the deficit down to 17-15 with under 10 seconds to play in the half, but a layup at the buzzer by Guiffre made it a four-point game at 19-15 at the break.
Back-to-back buckets by Guiffre, via a tree-pointer and a layup, helped Wellesley cushion their lead to 28-19 with a little under four minutes to play in the third quarter. Following the Guiffre layup, Scales was injured on the ensuing rush up the floor. It was a moment that served as the game’s true turning point.
With Walpole without their top ball handler and perimeter defender in Scales, the Raiders were able to capitalize. Guiffre completely took over the game, drilling five tree-pointers in the second half as the Raiders began to pull away. In total, 23 of Guiffre’s 27 points came in the second half, and Wellesley went on to win by the 14-point final. Jill White finished the game in double figures for Walpole with 10 points.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.