By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Westwood and Walpole High School varsity girls basketball teams squared off against one another in the MIAA Division II South Sectional semifinals at Massasoit Community College on Monday evening.
The Wolverines (14-7) earned their way to Monday night’s matchup with Walpole via a 55-43 victory over Plymouth-North in the opening round, followed by a 36-32 upset win at No. 2 seed Nauset on Saturday. The Rebels (12-8), meanwhile, took down No. 6 seed O’Bryant (Quincy) 68-28 in the opening round on Thursday followed by a 53-51 upset win at No. 3 Falmouth on Saturday.
However, despite both teams returning home from Cape Cod victorious, only one could advance to the Division II Sectional Championship.
Led by senior point guard Allison Morin, the Wolverines were able to hold off a hungry group of Rebels for a 36-32 victory, advancing to play No. 1 seed Foxborough for the South Sectional Championship on Saturday afternoon.
Walpole and Westwood could not have been more extreme polar opposites as far as offensive scheme and personnel go. Led by University of Maine-commit and senior captain Kelly Fogarty, the Rebels saw success this season for the most part due to their keen ability to shoot from beyond the arc with their deep set of guards. Westwood, meanwhile, has seen success stem from their abilities to overpower opponents in the paint, rebound well, and drive to the rim. Something had to give when these two faced off on Monday, and in the end, it was the size and power-drives of Westwood that ended up prevailing.
In the early going, however, the Rebels were the ones who were able convert drives to the basket into points, as freshman point guard Sydney Scales was able to break into the paint and convert layups into a one-point lead for Walpole at 9-8. With five seconds remaining in the half and the score still at 9-8 in favor of the Rebels, Westwood senior guard Christina Bonfiglio grabbed a defensive rebound and moved the ball up the floor to Morin. After receiving the pass from Bonfiglio just across the half-court line, Morin took a step and fired the ball up for a last-second buzzer shot. Morin’s shot was a perfect swish and the Westwood side of the gym erupted. Despite Walpole winning the early battles in the paint, the Wolverines entered the break ahead at 11-9 thanks to Morin’s incredible buzzer-beater.
The Wolverines extended their lead to 15-9 midway through the second quarter, but the Rebels came storming back to take a 16-15 lead thanks to buckets by Fogarty, sophomore forward Jillian White, and a three-point play by Scales. In what was déjà vu, however, Allison Morin again gave the Wolverines back the lead just before the buzzer by hitting a three-pointer with under a minute to play in the half, spotting Westwood an 18-16 lead at the half.
Following the break, the Wolverines continued to hammer away down in the paint, all while Walpole was able to get the ball to their top shooter in Kelly Fogarty for two critical three-pointers. After the teams were done trading blows in the third, Westwood held a three-point lead at 27-24 entering the final quarter of play.
Walpole battled back to tie the game at 32 late in the fourth quarter, but Westwood junior forward Elizabeth Kelly gave the Wolverines back the lead by hitting a pair of crucial free throws with 40 seconds left to play to make it 34-32. After a missed layup on Walpole’s ensuing possession that would have tied the game, the Rebels were forced to foul Allison Morin, who came down with the defensive rebound. Morin sank both of her ensuing free throws to make it a four-point game at 36-32, and the Wolverines hung on to win by the same score and advance to Saturday’s championship game.