Phillips twins lead Cambridge over MAU

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CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — In a rare game between Cambridge and Mount Anthony in girls basketball, all eyes were on the guard matchup.

The Indians, led by sophomore twin guards, Sophie and Lilly Phillips, and the Patriots, led by Grace Mahar and Cat Worthington, made for an intriguing Saturday matinee.

When the final buzzer sounded, it was the twins in white who had definitively won that guard battle, as Cambridge topped MAU 50-36 on its home court.

Sophie Phillips led the way for the Indians with 18 points, seven of which coming in the first quarter of play. Lilly Phillips was hot on her sister's heels with 17 points of her own, with nine coming in the second quarter.

On top of their offense, the pair created their usual chaos on defense to force the Patriots into mistakes and turnovers.

Patriots coach AJ Mahar knew the challenge of keeping Phillips twins in check was going to be a tough one for his girls.

"They're two really good players and I tried to change a lot of our defensive stuff a little bit," AJ Mahar said. "Looking back, I don't think we should have made any adjustments and should have stuck to our normal defensive strategy and it would have paid off a lot better than what the adjustments were. I put that blame on myself there."

Cambridge has a tendency to come out of the gate firing and they did just that Saturday. The Indians jumped out to an 8-0 advantage, spurred on by quick transition offense and fast hands on the defensive end.

"We like to [create turnovers] early and often because it's effective," said Cambridge coach Bob Phillips. "It's something that can bother teams. We use it as much as we can and try to mix things up so teams see different parts of the court and different defenses."

A major focus coming in for the Indians was slowing down Grace Mahar, who has four 20-point performances on the year. Covered mostly by Sophie and Lilly Phillips in the first half, Cambridge executed its gameplan pretty well. Mahar had just four points in the first half, on two free throws and a made basket. After the break, all she could muster was one three-point basket to rack up seven points on the day.

"Our strategy was to keep her to single digits if we could," Bob Phillips said. "We wanted to make shots hard for her and make her work for everything she could get. We wanted to make her uncomfortable."

Cat Worthington stepped up for MAU to keep them alive in the first half, hitting a trio of threes and a free throw for her team-high 10 points.

Despite Cambridge holding the lead for the entirety of the game, the Patriots were quick to bounce back when the Indians put them in a hole. Whether it was fighting out of a 13-3 Cambridge lead in the first, outscoring the Indians in the second or cutting Cambridge's lead to single digits late in the third, MAU always seemed to hang around.

"That's one great thing about our girls, they never quit," AJ Mahar said. "They're always playing as hard as they can and are battling start to finish."

Patriots used the three-point shot to remain in striking distance of the Indians. MAU knocked down eight 3's in the contest and that made up for two-thirds of its field goals.

While Cambridge outscored the Patriots by two in the third, they really hit the dagger in the fourth with a 7-0 run to start the frame, on a basket apiece from Sophie Phillips, Lilly Phillips and Fiona Mooney.

That run put the Indians up 16 points and it was too late for the Patriots to recover.

Mooney scored seven points for Cambridge, while Erin Farrell and Sam White added six and five respectively for MAU.

The Indians improve to 10-1 on the year, while the loss drops the Patriots to 6-6.

For MAU, competing against a opponent like Cambridge, who is ranked sixth in Class C in the most recent New York state poll, is a great way to test itself entering the latter half of the year.

"They play a completely different style than we see any other time of the year," AJ Mahar said. "To prep for them in such a short amount of time is tough. It was good to see the pressure they gave us with their length and their athleticism and their physicality. They're a really good team."

The Indians are back in action Tuesday against Berne-Knox-Westerlo on the road at 7:30 p.m.

The Patriots are off until Saturday when they take on South Burlington on the road. Tip off is set for 2:30 at SBHS Gym.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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