By Conor Walsh
---- — MANCHESTER — A sluggish start to a game is often one of the most difficult things for a coach to explain.
For Lauren Dubois, yesterday’s poor first quarter by her Manchester Essex girls basketball team left her puzzled.
Visiting Amesbury scored the game’s first 12 points last night at Manchester Essex Regional High School, keeping the Hornets off the board for the game’s first 6:25 to pace a 56-39 win.
And while the Hornets battled to dig themselves out of that hole, riding 16 points and 10 rebounds from Evy Weihs, their weak start simply proved to be too much to overcome.
“We started off a little slow,” Dubois said. “I thought we battled back really well in the second quarter and then just kind of struggled to maintain toward the end of the game. They don’t quit, they’ve just got to get better at playing a full game and not having one strong quarter and struggling in the rest.”
The Hornets’ inconsistencies were the story of the game. After spotting Amesbury its early 12-point lead with a slew of turnovers in the first quarter, they settled in and found a rhythm, cutting the halftime deficit to nine points.
That carried through the early minutes of the third quarter, when the Hornets (2-4) started dominating the glass and went on an 8-4 run to cut Amesbury’s lead to just four points.
With Weihs working a good inside-out game and point guard Sydney Christopher (five points) helping force Amesbury into countless turnovers with aggressive perimeter defense, the Hornets appeared to have a shot.
That was as far as they could climb, though, as Amesbury was able to hold off the Hornets’ push with strong defense and free-throw shooting to ice the win. The Hornets never held a lead.
“I wish I had something that I could pinpoint so I could fix it,” Dubois said of her team’s lack of consistency. “I think we try to do too much in certain possessions rather than taking it one possession at a time. We need to play with a little bit more composure and recognize that it’s a game of peaks and valleys, and we don’t need to worry if we’re not playing well for a minute because we can turn it right around the next possession.”
For a 3-3 Amesbury squad that’s fallen on hard times of late, any night that ends with a ‘W’ is a good night. And despite Manchester Essex’ push, the outcome of last night’s game was never in question.
The Indians got points from 10 players in a well-balanced attack, led by Emily Cummings’ game-high 17 points.
When things got hairy for a stretch, too, the Indians just went back to the basics of their offense. Work the ball around, wait for a lane and attack the rim.
With that, Amesbury got to the free throw line seemingly every possession, and the 14 points the Indians got from the stripe helped keep the Hornets down.
“Always happy with a win. We haven’t had too many lately,” Amesbury coach Chris Perry said. “We had a fast start and we were able to maintain, we just kept attacking the basket, but we still have a long way to go.”
Manchester Essex 39
agateText_Bold:at Manchester Essex Regional High School
A: E. Martin 4-8-17; Barkowski 3-2-8; Abraham 3-1-7; Fatal 3-0-6; Cummings 2-1-5; Schlich 1-2-4; Comeau 1-0-3; Snyder 1-0-2; A. Martin 1-0-2; Kilgerman 1-0-2.
M:Weihs 6-4-16; Christopher 1-2-5; E. Silag Stearns 1-2-5; Logue 1-3-5; I. Silag Stearns 2-0-4; Heath 1-0-2; Taylor 1-0-2.
Halftime: A 29-20
3-pointers: A E. Martin, Comeau; M Christopher, E. Silag Stearns.
Records: A 3-3; M 2-4.