Gallella Sisters Have Tewksbury Off To A Fast StartDec 30, 2015 05:51PM ● By Rick Spencer
Karalyn Gallella (21) goes up for two of her eight points in Tewksbury's 59-43 win at Wilmington on Wednesday.
For the past few seasons, December wins have been hard to come by for the Tewksbury High girls basketball team, as the Lady Redmen have struggled to find their rhythm and develop team chemistry in the first month of the season.
But thanks in a large part to the contributions of a trio of sisters, Karalyn, Lizzy and Erin Gallella, that’s not the case so far this year, as coach Mark Bradley’s squad has jumped out to a 4-2 start, rivaling the best start in Bradley’s seven-year tenure as the TMHS head coach. Tewksbury’s latest conquest was a 59-43 thrashing of Wilmington High Wednesday afternoon, as the Gallella sisters combined for 25 “family” points in the victory.
“Four wins in December, we haven’t seen that very often,” Bradley said. “Maybe once since I’ve been head coach, when Danielle DiPierro was a senior. We usually start slow and make a mad rush at the end of the season, so this is nice to see.”
Senior forward Karalyn Gallella tossed in eight points in the win over Wilmington, while her twin freshmen sisters came off the bench and played key roles as well. Erin Gallella, who plays guard, popped in a career-high 11 points, while Lizzy Gallella, at the small forward position, added six.
“They’re definitely a good basketball family,” said Bradley of the Gallellas. “I’m blessed, I’ve coached all of them starting with Olivia (who is a sophomore at the University of New Haven). They’re good basketball players and they’ve done a lot for this program and they're going to continue to do a lot more in the future.”
On this day, it was Erin Gallella’s contributions that jump-started the Tewksbury offense and sparked the team to victory. Erin entered the game with five minutes gone in the first period, as the Lady Redmen were mired in an offensive slump. Tewksbury trailed, 6-1 at that point, and had missed its first nine field goal attempts. But the moment Erin Gallella entered the game, things changed dramatically, as TMHS went on a 11-0 run and surged to a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Senior guard Emily Velozo also caught fire during that first period run, and went on to score a team-high 15 points. Senior forward Molly Robertson (eight points) took charge of the backboards in the second quarter, and came up with two big defensive steals in the final minute of the first half. Robertson converted one steal into a lay-up on her own and dished off to Velozo for an easy basket on the other. Tewksbury outscored Wilmington 20-13 in that quarter and led, 32-19 at the half.
“We were stuck on one (point) for three or four minutes,” Bradley said. “We were getting looks but the shots weren’t falling. It was good for the girls to get over that hump. We took advantage of some of (Wilmington’s) mistakes in transition and capitalized and scored some points.”
Erin Gallella added six more points in the third period, as Bradley went deep into his bench and kept the defensive pressure on Wilmington with fresh legs. Just about everyone on the team got into the act offensively, as senior guard Kirsten Dick contributed six points, junior forward Katie Garcia hit a big three-pointer and junior guard Marissa Doherty added a lay-up in transition.
Tewksbury pushed its lead to 51-33 after three periods, and coasted home from there to the 59-43 win.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who are equally skilled,” Bradley said. “When you can play eight or nine girls you can do a lot more different things, and it helps to keep fresh legs in there so you can run in transition.”
But the team’s sparkplug on this night, according to Bradley, was Erin Gallella.
”Erin’s got a lot of hidden basketball talent,” Bradley said. “She can definitely play with these girls. I’m excited about her. I think she makes us tougher to defend because now we can put Emily (Velozo) in different spots. She’s a pleasure to coach, she works hard. She still has a lot to learn, but she’s good with both hands and she’s aggressive. For a freshman I’m really impressed with her. If she continues to work on basketball, she’ll be a real special player.”
So the Lady Redmen will enjoy a few days off before the schedule turns tough on them in the new year. Tewksbury will host perennial Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 power Central Catholic next Tuesday, before squaring off against Dracut (also at home) in an important MVC Division 2 clash on Friday January 8th.
“We’ve only played six games and we’ve got a lot of tough games ahead of us,” Bradley said. “But I like the way we’ve looked so far. We’re in much better shape than usual. We’re an athletic group, we shoot a lot of three-pointers and the girls are looking to be scorers. It’s a good start so far.”