LUNENBURG — Survive and advance.
The Lunenburg High girls basketball team watched a big lead with under four minutes left in Friday night’s Div. 4 quarterfinal against Malden Catholic get whittled down to next to nothing with a barrage of shots from behind the 3-point line.
But when the final buzzer sounded, the comeback bid by the sixth-seeded Lancers came up just short, as the third-seeded Blue Knights advanced to the state’s Final Four with a 54-47 victory in front
Lunenburg (21-3) moves onto the semifinals, where it will face the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 10 Millbury and No. 15 Mashpee, with a date, time and location to be determined.
Up 50-33 with 3:44 left, the Blue Knights saw their guests close on a 14-4 run, cutting into the lead quickly as Kylia Reynoso got the burst started with back-to-back 3-pointers. An old-fashioned three-point play by Kayla Jackson (six points) before a deep 3 by Jillian Perry (five points) cut the advantage to 50-44 with 1:25 left.
“They’re a good team. We knew (Reynoso) was a shooter and tried everything we could, ran everyone we could at her,” Lunenburg head coach Frank Greene said. “She was making shots. We were playing great defense, but it was better offense.”
And though a hoop and free throw from Luna Murray cut the lead to 52-47 with 59.1 left, the rally proved to be too little, too late.
Reynoso had a game-high 19 points for the Lancers, who end the season 21-3.
“I knew they were a tough, tough team. I was happy with our defense and knew our shooting would take a little time,” said Greene, whose team is the highest remaining seed in the Div. 4 tournament. “The second half has been our half all year.”
Tight throughout the opening half, the Blue Knights opened up a 14-point edge after three, closing the quarter on an 11-0 run sparked by five straight points from junior Elizabeth Boone on a 3 and short jumper.
“There were some good passes when the ball got kicked out and I was open,” said Boone, who had 10 points in the win. “I think we were able to settle down.”
By the time Bella Patricca (team-high 14 points) hit one of two free throws with 23.6 seconds left in the third, the cushion had ballooned to 41-27.
Boone’s 3 with 4:06 left gave Lunenburg its largest lead of the game at 50-33 before the guests began to storm back.
Neither team played well to start. The first quarter saw a a dozen turnovers between the programs and just six made field goals as the hosts got out to a 10-6 advantage.
The Blue Knights and Lancers went to halftime knotted at 19.
Miranda Boulay and Autumn Tibbetts each had eight points in the victory.