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Tewksbury Girls Topple Lawrence, 55-45

Jan 04, 2015 04:40PM ● Published by Rick Spencer

Emily Velozo (10) drives the lane for two of her 14 points against Lawrence.

Gallery: Lawrence at Tewksbury [11 Images] Click any image to expand.

For many teams, there are certain “landmark” games during any given season that coaches can look back on say “that’s when we started to become a good team.”

For the Tewksbury High girls’ basketball team, Sunday afternoon’s 55-45 win over visiting Lawrence High might just turn out to be that game.

“I thought we really got after it for four quarters today,” said TMHS head coach Mark Bradley after watching eight different Redmen step up and make big plays at critical moments on Sunday. “If you look at our four wins now, this is definitely our most complete win.”

Ranking high among Tewksbury’s top performers against Lawrence was senior forward Shannon Smith, who scored 16 points and hauled in close to a dozen rebounds in spite of sitting out most of the third quarter with foul trouble. Smith’s co-stars included junior guard Emily Velozo (14 points) and senior guard Amanda Brown (10 points) who took over the scoring duties in the second half, when Smith was on the bench.

“They stepped up,” Bradley said. “It’s nice when one of your premier players is on the bench and somebody steps up. That’s what you need. That’s what a team is. It was nice to see three kids  in double digits.”

While Smith, Velozo and Brown solidified their roles as Tewksbury’s offensive leaders, what might have made this game most notable was the production that came from the TMHS supporting staff.  Nine different Redmen saw significant playing time against Lawrence, and seven different players scored points. Junior forward Karalyn Gallella had her second consecutive productive outing with six points, three rebounds and two assists, while junior forward Haley Pozzuto (four points) buried two important first half jumpers. Junior guard Kirsten Dick and sophomore guard Marissa Doherty each added well-timed fast break baskets in the fourth quarter.

“For a team that only had two experienced players coming back, for the rest of these kids to step up is huge,” Bradley said. “That’s what’s gonna make us a team, when everybody steps up.”

Unseen in the scorebook was the hustling effort of junior forward Molly Robertson, who didn’t score any points, but still played strong defense, grabbed a half dozen rebounds, dished out several assists and scrapped for a handful of loose balls.

“Molly might be struggling a little bit offensively,” Bradley said. “But with rebounding, toughness and hustle plays, she’s leading it. She had a boat load of rebounds today.  She works so hard, she plays a lot of minutes. She’s going to be dangerous when she starts scoring.”

The game was close throughout the first three quarters, with neither team building anything greater than a five-point lead.  Smith was Tewksbury’s go-to girl in the first half, as she scored six points in the first quarter, but Tewksbury trailed, 14-13 after one period. Smith added five more points and four rebounds in the second quarter, as a strong defensive effort sparked the Redmen to a 24-21 halftime lead.

Things didn’t look good for Tewksbury when Smith picked up her third foul of the game with 5:06 still to play in the third quarter, the score tied at 26-26 and the momentum shifting Lawrence's way. But TMHS coach Mark Bradley called a time out and delivered a clear message to his team.

“I sorta just laid into them a little bit that (Lawrence) was dictating the hustle plays and stuff like that,” Bradley said. “And we really, from that point on took, care of the basketball and didn’t put any more pressure on ourselves defensively by handing them the ball.”

The message resonated, particularly with Brown and Velozo, as that pair combined for 15 points over the next 10 minutes of playing time. The two teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 33-33, but the final frame was all Tewksbury, as the Redmen outscored the Lancers 22-12 over the final eight minutes and came away with a big Merrimack Valley Conference Division 2 victory.  Velozo scored seven points in the final period, Smith owned the boards and added six more points.  Brown hit a momentum-swinging three-point bomb and Gallella, Dick and Doherty all scored important baskets as Tewksbury improved to 4-3 overall, 2-1 in the Merrimack Valley Conference.

“It’s a big win for us, “Bradley said. “It builds a lot of confidence.  I’m proud of the direction we’re going in right now. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, and we’ve still got a lot of work to do. But I’m proud of the way this team is developing right now.”

Tewksbury faces its stiffest challenge of the year on Tuesday when the Redmen travel to Lawrence for a 7:30 game against perennial MVC power Central Catholic.

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Sports, Today, Schools Mark Bradley, Emily Velozo, Shannon Smith, Amanda Brown
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