Friday, March 7, 2014
By GREG REID Special to the Press Herald
PORTLAND - Don't ask Victoria Nappi how she does it, hitting those 3-pointers that so often push Cheverus out of trouble.
Just trust that when she takes aim from way out on the wing, the ball's going to drop. Her teammates certainly do.
Nappi scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead Cheverus past tenacious Thornton Academy 61-44 in an SMAA girls' basketball game Friday night at Keegan Gymnasium.
The Stags, 15-2 and ranked third behind No. 1 McAuley and No. 2 Deering in the Western Class A Heal points, won their fourth straight despite the loss of senior Georgia Ford to an ankle injury and limited minutes from Kylie Libby (8 points, 5 rebounds, one steal), who suffered early foul trouble.
"We played extremely hard," Thornton Coach Eric Marston said. "In stretches we didn't play as smart as we would have liked but the girls left it all on the floor. I don't know how many 3's Nappi had but obviously she was hitting the ball extremely well, and we were having a hard time closing out on her in the zone."
Thornton Academy, 10-6 and ranked sixth in the Heals, saw a four-game win streak snapped but was bolstered by the second straight start by point guard Kaitlyn McCrum, who missed all season with a knee injury. McCrum led the Trojans with 13 points. Olivia Shaw added 11 points and five rebounds.
"Kaitlyn helps us in a variety of ways," Marston said. "She played a lot of minutes tonight. Hopefully she'll get her legs under her and be able to be a big part of what we do."
The Trojans also showed staunch defending at points, forcing the ball outside. Unfortunately for them, the Stags worked it around to Nappi.
"Cheverus was moving the ball very well against our zone," Marston said. "We had some opportunities but didn't capitalize. They capitalized on our mistakes but we didn't capitalize on theirs."
Brooke Flaherty (10 points) and Jessica Willerson (7 points, 5 rebounds) scored all their points in a back-and-forth first half that left Cheverus with a lead at halftime, 26-22. Cheverus led 5-0 but had to fight through seven lead changes to grab a 14-10 edge after one quarter. The teams scored an even 12-12 in the second quarter. The halftime score could have been 26-25 had Ashley Howe launched her shot from midcourt an instant earlier. Officials ruled the shot was taken after the buzzer started.
The third quarter proved the difference. Nappi scored two 3s and 10 points from the outside, and Libby (with three fouls) returned to cut to the basket for six points and key rebounds.
Cheverus' pressure defense, led by Mikayla Mayberry, Nappi and Danielle Kane (replacing Ford) limited the Trojans to 12 points to push the lead to 48-34 after three quarters.
"We played very good in the second half," Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley said. "In the third quarter our seniors stepped up. Danielle Kane had some big minutes, Victoria hit some good shots, Kylie had some steals and big points. The seniors in general did a great job."