BURLINGTON – Regardless of how good a team you are, on some nights, the shots simply aren’t going to fall.
The Wilmington High Girls Basketball team found that out first hand last Friday night in their season opener as they suffered a 44-36 road loss to Middlesex League rival Burlington in a game where there seemed to a proverbial lid on the basket all night long for the Wildcats.
Wilmington shot just 12-for-57 on the night, including 0-for-12 from three-point land, leaving coach Jessica Robinson and her players frustrated after the loss in a game that, despite their shooting woes, seemed very winnable through three quarters.
“We left a lot on the floor,” Robinson said. “We had the opportunities, but we just didn’t finish. Opportunities are there, but it is just finishing. We have to do a better job of finishing around the hoop.”
Wilmington trailed just 23-17 at the half and 30-22 at the end of three quarters, but unfortunately for them, their shooting touch never arrived on this night, as Burlington pulled away in the fourth quarter before setting for the eight point victory.
It was apparent early on that things weren’t quite right offensively for either team in this one, as the game remained scoreless until senior Alyssa Morrison got the Wildcats on the board with a basket with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Things got a little better from there for the rest of the quarter, but not much, and Burlington led 7-5 after the first eight minutes.
In the second quarter, both teams looked much more like what they are likely to be this season, which is two of the better teams in the Middlesex League. Burlington started strong, going out to a 12-5 lead, but the Wildcats quickly responded on a hoop by Kayla Smith and a three-point play by Jenna Tavanese (nine points) to pull the Wildcats within 14-9 with 3:49 left in the half.
Wilmington, however, would get no closer for the rest of the half, and eventually headed to the break trailing 23-17.
Wilmington closed to 23-19 on a hoop by Morrison in the opening minute of the third quarter but the cold shooting resumed for both teams for much of quarter, with Burlington once again outscoring the Wildcats 7-5 in the frame and taking a 30-22 lead into the fourth quarter.
Part of the problem for the Wildcats on the night was shot selection.
“We can’t just settle for jump shots. We’ve got to get to the hoop,” Robinson said. “We want to attack the hoop in our offense and we just weren’t able to get in the flow that I would have liked to see.”
The game was still very much within reach at that point for the Wildcats, but Burlington soon began to pull away, taking a 35-22 lead with 5:37 left on a basket by Kelly Joyce and the Wildcats never seriously threatened again. They did close to within seven points at 40-33 with 1:20 left on a basket by Kylie DuCharme (ten points, ten rebounds), but it was too little too late for the Wildcats at that point.
One bit of good news for the Wildcats in the loss was their play on defense, where they managed to hold a talented Burlington team in check.
“I thought defensively we did well,” Robinson said. “We want to hold teams to the 35 to 40-point range and we had them there. There were a couple of lapses, but defensively I think we have a good foundation. We just have to build on that. We will go back to practice on Sunday and get back at it.”