Patriots' second quarter surge the difference

CHESHIRE, Mass. — After a rocky start to the season, the Mount Anthony girls basketball team has started to find its footing, and the Patriots extended their winning streak to four games with a 48-33 win over Lee in the Coaches vs. Cancer showcase at Hoosac Valley.

Grace Mahar scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Patriots (6-5) back above .500. After going 2-5 to start, MAU has scored at least 48 points during its winning streak, while holding opponents to an average of 29 points per contest.

"Defensively, we are getting a lot stronger," Grace Mahar said. "Our offense has improved tremendously. More people are looking to score, we're making more shots, getting more stops."

On Saturday, the Patriot utilized a big run at the end of the second quarter to pull away.

After a Lena Simone bucket for Lee made it 11-11, MAU closed the period on a 14-5 run to go up nine into the break. Cat Worthington (six points) scored on a layup and a pair of free throws to start the run, and Mahar hit the team's lone 3-pointer to go up 22-13.

"To finish a quarter, any quarter, let alone the first half like that is a great feeling to go into halftime," coach AJ Mahar said. "It kind of gives us a bit of confidence. I called a timeout when they made a run to come back, and I said let's try to extend this lead before halftime, and the girls responded to that."

For coach Mahar, Saturday's game highlighted two areas he's been focusing on in his first campaign as head man — defense and rebounding.

"I think that it's something we've been working on and continuing to grow on day in and day out through every game and every practice," coach Mahar said. "I think we out-rebounded them by 19 today, so that's a great number for us. They did a good job with the rotations and all that, helping each other out. It's been good to see."

In the second half, MAU dashed any hopes of a Lee comeback by holding the Wildcats to just five points in the third quarter. On the offensive end, Grace Mahar scored the last six points of the quarter, converting in the post from Rachael Jones to start. Sam White then recorded a steal that turned into a Mahar bucket off a Emilie O'Brien pass, then Mahar showed her range of abilities by recording a block on the defensive end, then taking it coast-to-coast for the finish.

"She's just so tough. Its the same story night in, night out with her," coach Mahar said of Grace. "She just comes in and battles. She goes and gets the ball, she's not scared or shy of anything, she's going to go and make it happen. She's been awesome."

Grace Mahar was quick to spread the praise around after the win.

"My teammates were a big part of my success. I definitely couldn't have done it without them. We are improving a lot, so it felt good to get another win."

Anna Iannotti finished with seven points in the win, while Kaity O'Brien had eight points and eight rebounds. Worthington also dished out four assists.

For Lee, Lydia Simone had 11 points as the Patriots held Lee's leading duo of Shannon Finnegan (7 points) and Brianna Hawley (8 points) to just 15 points total.


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