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Woolies solid all around.

Byline: Craig Holt

MILLBURY - The Millbury High girls' basketball team gave coach Steve Reno an early Christmas present last night in the form of a near-perfect game against Bartlett High.

The Woolies started fast and finished strong, and got stellar performances from a number of people en route to a 70-16 victory at Millbury's gym.

The win was the third straight for the defending Division 2 champion Woolies, who opened the season with tough losses to Quaboag Regional and Sutton. The Indians slipped to 2-3.

Millbury was led by sophomore forward Chelsea Perkins, who funneled home a game-high 15 points, including 11in the first half.

Perkins, a soccer standout, did most of her damage in the open court, where she used her quickness to scoot past the defense for easy drives. This included several steals which resulted in coast-to-coast layups.

Perkins had plenty of help. Junior guard Cailin Bullett notched 11 points, most coming on quick drives to the hole. Freshman guard Julie Frankian and junior center Kirsten Orrell netted 10 points apiece. Eighth-grader Megan Crain added 8 points. Millbury got points from 10 different players.

"This was a great game for us, both offensively and defensively," Perkins said. "We've been working real hard to get better offensively and it showed in this game. On offense, we're swinging the ball, setting it up and waiting for the right passes. But we still need work on our rebounding. We rebounded pretty good in this game, though, and our shots were falling."

The Woolies have also worked hard defensively since the first week of practice and it showed last night. Millbury's defense limited the Indians to one field goal in three quarters. Perkins was aggressive defensively, deflecting passes and making steals.

"I try to play good defense and get rebounds, even though I'm really not that tall," Perkins said. "I also give 110 percent out there and try to encourage my teammates. I'm psyched for the season and I love this team. We're back."

Millbury grabbed the initiative quickly, beginning the game with a 14-0 run. Perkins hit a layup and two drives during the spurt, which was jump-started by solid play off the defensive boards and good interior passing. Orrell, who teamed with senior forward Paige Mogren to dominate the boards, capped the run with a short pop off the glass.

The Woolies led, 19-2, after one quarter and increased that advantage to 31-11 at the break. Perkins led all scorers with 11 points.

"I thought we came out with a lot of energy, and that hasn't always been the case so far this season," Reno said. "I told the girls at halftime that the first half was as good a half as we've played. And it didn't let up in the second half. It was just one of those nights where the shots were going in and the ball was bouncing our way. We also rebounded well and defended well."

Millbury used a 25-2 burst in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

Reno is glad to see his team bounce back after its tough early-season start. Some keys include renewed confidence and a commitment to defense.

"We've been working on our defense, but it's been a learning process, especially for some of our younger kids," Reno said. "A few of the younger players seemed to get it defensively better in this game than they have in some of our previous games. Our confidence is coming back after the rough start. But we've got Shepherd Hill next and that will be a tough one."

Bartlett was plagued by poor shooting and turnovers from the get-go.

Sophomore guard Kristen Cameron and freshman forward Bryana Poulin netted 7 points apiece.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 22, 2007
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