READING — About the result you would expect with a No. 5 seed hosting a 12 in a first-round tournament game.
The Reading girls basketball team never trailed as it got its post-season started in fine fashion with a 56-38 win over Revere in a Division 1 North first round tournament game last night at Hawkes Field House. The Lady Rockets (17-4) will face the winner of tonight’s Andover-Lynn English which was postponed last night due to a power outage in Andover.
The tournament win by the Lady Rockets was the program’s first postseason triumph in six years. In three of the previous five years Reading had qualified, it didn’t get by the first game. Reading won last night in text-book fashion with its pressure defense causing turnovers and getting out in transition to score at the rim or kick out for open 3-pointers.
Senior standout Haley Lightbody was able to orchestrate her drives to the hoop or drive-and-kicks to Isabella Zagami or freshman Jack Malley for threes.
“That’s what we like to do,” said Reading coach Jim DeBenedictis. “We get the ball into Haley’s hands and it’s nice when she can also kick it to No. 3 (Zagami) or 24 (Malley). We generate a lot of our offense from our defense.”
After a slow start scoring-wise, Lightbody still led Reading with 14 points. Malley and Zagami were hot early and they would up with 13 and 12 points respectively.
Revere (11-10) did not have much of presence inside. But, the Patriots were able to hang around a bit thanks to the outside shooting of junior Erika Cheever who scored 20 points thanks to six 3-pointers.
Revere never led and after the opening tip the game was only tied once, at 3-3, thanks to Cheever’s first three-ball.
The Lady Rockets were hot from deep early. They made six 3-pointers in the game’s first 10 minutes before seemingly getting a little fatigued. But by that point they were in control.
Revere made a couple of modest runs in the first quarter. The Patriots went on an 8-0 closing run to end the first quarter and cut a 14-point Reading lead to just six at 22-16.
Reading’s defense made a statement in the second quarter allowing just six points on a pair of threes from Cheever to take command.
Malley and Zagami drained threes of their own. Reserve Kiara Tangney scored at the rim, Lightbody finished in transition while Alyssa Pryputniewicz had a hoop and Nakeya Carr swished a pair of free throws to give Reading a 36-22 lead at half.
To start the third quarter, Lightbody scored six quick points for her team while Pryputniewicz and Zagami also had baskets to swell the lead to over 20 points (46-25). It was a 52-32 Reading lead after three quarters after Malley drove to the hoop and scored with 26 seconds left.
It could be understandable that Reading perhaps dialed it back to some degree in the final quarter. Lightbody also picked up her fourth foul sending her to the bench for a brief stretch.
In a real low-scoring final eight minutes, Reading ran some clock and only had a basket by Carr to show for it, other than Gianna Zagami’s two free throws with both teams going to the bench in the final minute.
“Maybe we got a little tired, or complacent, scoring only four points,” said DeBenedictics. “But, I think if we needed to score, we would have.”
It was a good, solid start to the postseason for the Lady Rockets but they now likely will have to go on the road to Andover if form holds in the 4-13 matchup with Andover hosting Lynn English.