Spartans dominate duel with Panthers

Spartans dominate duel with Panthers

Making her way to the basket in a hurry is Scituate’s Leah Bessette, center, who races between Johnston’s Jordan Moretti, left, and Caroline Howe, right, during Monday night’s Division II-North showdown at the Spartans’ gymnasium. The Spartans posted a 67-50 victory that was the Panthers’ first D-II loss in two seasons. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Scituate girls’ basketball team rules defending champions in battle of D-II unbeatens

NORTH SCITUATE – In a battle of Division II-North unbeaten teams, the Scituate High girls’ basketball team used its defense to keep defending D-II champion Johnston off-balance and saw its offense top the 60-point mark for the first time this season in a 67-50 victory on Monday night at the Spartans’ gymnasium.

With the win, the Spartans improved to 5-0 in the league and 7-0 overall, while the Panthers, who went 21-0 against their league opponents last season, slipped to 4-1 in the league.

“I think we were obviously up for the challenge, but that’s a very tough Johnston team,” Scituate head coach Rick Cabral said. “We have a lot of respect for them. Our girls’ program in the rec level actually play together, so it’s fun. We have a lot of respect for them and I’m sure we’ll see them again down the road.”

Eight players scored points for the Spartans, with two players hitting double figures. Jane Owens led the way with 20 points, while Rachel Oster added 13, Valerie Zammarelli had nine, and Sam Oster, Madison Medbury, and Leah Bessette each contributed six.

The Spartans started the game with a 7-0 run before the Panthers got on the board after a timeout 3:44 into the game. The Spartans’ fast start on offense gave their defense something to work with, as the Panthers were frustrated right out of the gate. At halftime, Scituate held a 35-17 lead

It was also a fast, physical game. With their press, the Spartans were called for a lot of fouls, and Rachel Oster, who would foul out in the second half, was a key component with her speed and her ability to steal the ball. Medbury was also a force on the court, and she handed out her fair share of assists, and while she was setting her teammates up, Owens was there at the post to get the rebound and put it back up.

“It was certainly a great team effort,” Cabral said. “I thought everybody played really hard today.”

Defensively, the Spartans started the game off by double-teaming Johnston senior guard Jordan Moretti, who scored her 1,000th point as a junior last season. Rachel Oster and Medbury guarded Moretti, and she still led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points, while Gabby DiRaimo scored 16.

“These teams were mirror images of each other, as far as their styles of play, but I thought ultimately our defense stepped up and held them in check for most of the game,” Cabral said. “That was the key.”

During the holiday break, the Spartans claimed the Hank Orabone Holiday Tournament at Cranston West by topping two Division I-North teams, Cranston West in the semifinals, 42-41, and Cranston East in the title game, 39-36. Owens was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, as she scored 12 points in each game.

The Spartans have their work cut out for them this week with a game at Woonsocket on Wednesday, a home game against Tolman tonight at 7 p.m., and another home game against Mount St. Charles Academy on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Scituate’s Sam Oster, #14, does her best to drive to the basket as she is guarded by Johnston's Jordan Moretti.