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Tahanto girls start the season with a victory.

Byline: Bill Marsh

BOYLSTON - The Tahanto Regional High School girls basketball team won its season opener last Tuesday night, downing Clinton, 53-36, in a Midland-Wachusett league non-divisional game.

With the victory, Tahanto owns a 1-0 overall record, while Clinton falls to 0-2.

Senior captain Annette Davis led the Stags, scoring a game-high 14 points. Also in double figures for Tahanto were senior captain Lauren Barakian and freshman Mary Kate O'Day, who added 10 markers each.

Senior captain Shannon Grieve chipped in with nine points.

Lady Gaels senior captain Jill Hazel scored a team-high 10 points, while senior Amelia Gonyea tossed-in eight markers.

The Stags came out roaring in the first half, going on a 10-3 run. After Davis drove the baseline for a basket, she followed with a put-back.

Davis then pulled down a rebound and went up strong for a layup. She followed with a 10-foot jumper.

Senior captain Julia Morena ended the burst with a successful drive to the hoop.

Tahanto was up, 14-5, at the end of the first quarter.

Trailing, 18-8, midway through the second quarter, Clinton shifted its offense into high gear, putting together a 10-4 spurt.

Hazel got things started by stealing the ball at midcourt and dishing off to senior captain Angela Pallotta for a lay-in. After sophomore Alexis Dylewicz nailed a jumper, Hazel found senior captain Monique Daniels open for a layup.

Back-to-back drives for baskets by Gonyea and Daniels ended the run and the first half.

The Stags owned a 22-18 lead at the break.

Tahanto added to its lead by opening the second stanza with an 8-1 run. After a jumper by O'Day, Barakian got the hot hand and scored six consecutive points.

Leading, 30-19, the Stags were able to maintain their lead for the duration of the quarter. The third frame ended with Tahanto leading, 40-28.

The Stags put the game away early in the fourth quarter, when they went on a 9-3 run. Grieve got the spurt started by putting in two offense rebounds for four points, and drawing a foul on the second put-back. She made the free throw.

Barakian nailed two consecutive jumpers to end the spurt.

Davis led Tahanto with 14 rebounds, while Daniels had 12 for the Lady Gaels.

Tahanto head coach Kim Dufresne was thrilled with her team's victory in the season opener.

"This was a big win for us and a good way to start the year," Dufresne said. "I can't ever remember beating Clinton.

"It was a great game," she said. "We moved the ball well and we shot well.

"This is the best shooting I've seen from Tahanto in a long time," Dufresne continued. "We had some nice rebounding from Annette Davis and Shannon (Grieve) picked up some key offensive rebounds and put them back."

"We got off to a slow start, but the girls worked hard," said Clinton junior varsity coach John Smith, filling in for head coach Bernie Gaughan, who is out with an illness. "We got back into it just before the half, when we were trailing by only four points.

"Tahanto shot the hot ball in the third quarter, and that dug us a hole for the rest of the night," he said.

The Stags play an 18-game schedule this season, with 17 remaining. Tahanto, which finished last season with a 4-16 record, has some experience this season. There are five seniors on the 12-player squad.

"We need just eight more (wins) to qualify (for the Districts)," Dufresne said. "We lost two starters in Tiffany Miller and Katie Adams, but everyone else is back.

"We have a nice mix, with some experienced and younger players," she said. "One of our team goals is to make it to Districts.

"Little by little, every day, we are getting stronger," Dufresne added.

The Stags' captains are Morena, Barakian, Davis, and Grieve.

Morena is the point guard, while Barakian is a shooting guard.

"Julia (Morena) will handle the ball for us," Dufresne said. "She is a good point guard and floor leader.

"Lauren (Barakian) is more of a two-guard and a good shooter," she said. "We want her to shoot, but she will see some time at the point (guard)."

Tahanto has lacked a big forward/center for several years, but this season, it has two of them. Both Davis and Grieve, at 5-foot 11, will see action at forward and center.

"I interchange them (Davis and Grieve) at forward and center, Dufresne said. "Depending on the substitutions, either one of them can play either position.

"I'm excited about having some height," she said. "To have two 5-11 players is huge for us. We are looking for rebounding and scoring from both of them."

The fifth starter on the team is freshman Mary Kate O'Day, who will play both point and two-guard.

"We want Mary Kate (O'Day) to do a little bit of everything," Dufresne said. "She is young, but we want her to bring the ball up and shoot."

The other senior on the team is guard Katie Brewer.

"She (Brewer) is out for the team for the first time," Dufresne said. "She is doing a good job and will get some minutes."

First off the bench is freshman forward Julia O'Brien.

"She (O'Brien) can shoot the ball and plays well on the perimeter," Dufresne said. "She has good instincts and is really picking up play at forward. She and the other freshmen are key to building the program."

Another key player off the bench will be sophomore Allie Tolles, a guard.

"We worked on her shot last year and she seems to be much more comfortable this year," Dufresne said. "She will help us at the guard spot, especially with her speed, and she seems more at ease on the floor and in general."

Other players on the team are junior Sara El-Rifai, sophomores Alyssa Michalak and Mollie Cashin, and freshman Nina Ngari.

"Sara (El-Rifai) is new to the program, but has really picked up the forward play," Dufresne said. "Alyssa (Michalak) is back and she's a two guard."

Cashin is a forward, while Ngari will play center.

The Stags did not have a junior varsity program last year, but it is back this season. Longtime coach Chuck MacKinnon is back at the JV helm.

"It is nice to have a JV program, and there are quite a few middle schoolers on it," Dufresne said. "They will get some experience, and Mr. MacKinnon and I run similar playbooks.

"We are hoping in the future, with the new school, to have a middle-school program," she said. "It is important to have the kids playing basketball."

Junior varsity

The Clinton junior varsity team defeated the Tahanto JVs, 47-27.

Julia Eldean and Samantha Sullivan led the Stags with eight and seven points, respectively.

Catrina Connolly scored a game-high 10 points for the Lady Gaels, and Sabrina Raymond added nine markers.



CUTLINE: (1) Tahanto senior captain Annette Davis (right) ducks under Clinton senior captain Monique Daniels. (2) Stag senior captain Lauren Barakian dribbles the ball during the Stags' victory over Clinton. (3) Mary Kate O'Day
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 21, 2012
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