Gutsy win for Patriots on Senior Night
With the Raiders draining the clock minute by minute on their ensuing possessions, the pressure only ramped up more for MAU.
This Patriots team has been in the situation before and know how to handle them. MAU would control the game on both ends and not allow Rutland another point the rest of the way.
A final jumper by sophomore Grace Mahar with 20 seconds left would be the dagger that the Patriots needed, as they topped the Raiders 31-30 on Senior Night at Kates Gym.
The first half was very uncharacteristic for MAU. Rutland wouldn't let them get into any sort of rhythm offensively and it showed in a big way. The Patriots were held to just 11 points in the first 16 minutes and had just five made field goals the entire half.
Rutland, though not marksman in its own right Thursday, made MAU pay for offensive futility. Junior guard Elise Margo in particular shined against the Patriots defense in the first half. Margo scored 10 of her team's 20 first half points.
MAU coach AJ Mahar knew an adjustment had to be made and that's exactly what his team did at the half. The rest of the way the Patriots would outscore the Raiders 20-10.
"We got off to a really rough start and for most the game, we weren't executing. We weren't get the 50-50 balls," AJ Mahar said. "At halftime, I stressed to them that we just need to grind it out and find everything you've got inside of you. I'm really proud of them."
In particular, MAU did a great job adjusting to the play of Margo and kept her in check in the second half. She was held to just three second-half points and only one made field goal. Rutland was continuously trying to get the ball to her in the waning moments, so the Patriots on-ball defense was incredibly impressive in that regard.
"We an adjustment since the last time we played them and in the first half, we executed it poorly," AJ Mahar said. "The rotation of Emilie (O'Brien), Caroline (Musinski) and Cat (Worthington) defending her was awesome. Anna (Iannotti) and Sam (White) did a great job hedging on screens against her."
Kates Gym had a facelift Thursday in order to honor MAU's three seniors Anna Iannotti, Kaity O'Brien and Emma Arlotta, along with foreign exchange student Alanood Belal. There were streamers hanging at the entrance and balloons hanging as well.
"Our girls were here since 11 o'clock this morning. The gym looked amazing," AJ Mahar said. "The parents who helped set up, the girls who did it, put so much time and effort to honor our seniors."
AJ Mahar appreciates the effort and positivity his seniors bring to the team.
"All three of them really contributed well tonight in a big way," AJ Mahar said. "It was some really good energy and some really good talk on the bench. That's what they do. They all lead in different ways other than points, rebounds or assists. I'm really happy we could pull this one out for them."
Grace Mahar led the way offensively for the Patriots with 17 points.
MAU ends the regular season at 13-7 and won the Marble Valley League A Division crown. They now await their seeding for the state tournament.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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