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February 8, 2013

Gloucester tops Swampscott, lives to see another day

GLOUCESTER — The Gloucester girls basketball team had its back against the wall entering last night’s game.

After an up-and-down season, the Fishermen took the floor against Swampscott with a 6-10 record. With a win, they could extend their season and keep the hopes of a state tournament berth alive. With a loss, they’d be done.

It was hardly surprising, then, that the Fishermen brought a certain desperation to the court last night, playing scrappy, relentless defense from start to finish and keeping the Big Blue uncomfortable all night.

Behind that defense and a 21-point, 11-rebound performance from captain Sophie Black, the Fishermen extended their season with a dominant 46-19 win to move to 7-10 with three games remaining.

“They knew what they had to do,” Gloucester coach Brandon Lewis said. “It’s kind of been hanging over their heads and I said, ‘You don’t have a choice tonight. You can either come out and win or call it quits.’ They responded very, very well. I’m very proud of them tonight.”

Desperation often presents itself in one of two ways, especially in high school sports. Sometimes, the pressure turns into mistakes. Other times, it brings out the best in a team.

Last night was an obvious example of the latter. Gloucester was crisp on both sides of the ball, dominating with a smothering perimeter defense and patiently working the ball for open looks on the other end of the floor.

While they were certainly impressive offensively — Black, especially — it was the defense last night that stole the show.

The Fishermen had held only one previous opponent, Manchester Essex, under 30 points.

Last night, they forced 22 turnovers to keep the Big Blue (6-10) in the teens.

It was a well-rounded effort, the definition of “team defense.” The Fishermen switched well, fought through screens and attacked the ball at any opportunity.

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