Groton girls basketball team clinched the NEPSAC Class B championship title in a hard-fought final against Lawrence Academy on Sunday, March 3.
The 57–54 game was a back-and-forth nailbiter throughout, with neither team holding more than a six-point lead and most of the game even closer. Case in point: the halftime score of 26–24, after Meghan Carney ’19 scored a lay-up at the buzzer to reclaim a narrow lead.
Midway through the second half, Groton extended its lead to six points, only to see LA go on a run to earn its own six-point lead. But Groton came back, leading by one point with thirty-one seconds remaining. A foul on LA could have turned the game, but the opponent hit only one of two free throws. With seconds remaining, the game was tied.
After some stellar passing, Calie Messina ’22 hit a three-pointer off a pass from Rachel McMenemy ’20 to put Groton up by three with only 6.8 seconds remaining! LA’s half-court shot at the buzzer fell short, and the Groton team and fans erupted with joy.
“This team battled through injuries all year, but we knew and told them that, when healthy, we could beat any Class B team in New England,” said Coach Joe Crail. “They proved us right by the way they played down the stretch, winning the final seven games of the season, when finally 100 percent healthy.”
Overall, Rachel and Calie scored fourteen points each, Lyndsey Toce ’19 scored twelve, and Meghan eleven. Rounding off the scoring was Chiara Nevard ’21 with four points and Angelika Hillios ’19 with two. Rachel was named Most Valuable Player of the Class B tournament.
Groton’s tenacious team entered the playoffs as the fifth seed and went on to beat the fourth seed (at St. George’s), first seed (at St. Luke’s), and second seed LA in the finals at Loomis Chaffee.
“I’ve been coaching high school basketball for fourteen years,” said Coach Crail, “and have never coached a team that was so close, like a family, on and off the court.”
Photo credit: Adam Richins