Burrillville High's Ashley Spear, left, tries to maneuver around Tolman defender Jazmine Almeida during Friday's game. (BUTCH ADAMS photo)
PAWTUCKET â The look on the face of Burrillville High coach Lindsay Rachlow said it all. She wasnât out there with her players during Friday nightâs Division II-North contest with Tolman, but she certainly showed the exhaustion of playing a fierce battle with the Tigers.
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It was a battle that her Broncos managed to win, eking out a 48-47 victory over Tolman before its typically-loud fan base at the Donaldson Gymnasium.
âI knew it was going to be a fight,â Rachlow said. âItâs a tough place to play. Itâs a small court. Itâs loud with all the energy in it. They werenât going to let us take this one easy. I knew that.â
The Broncos, who held a seven-point cushion at halftime, withstood a determined Tolman squad in the latter half. With a flurry of eight straight points in the closing minutes, punctuated by a putback from junior Ariana Wood, the Tigers took their last lead of the game at 46-44 with 33 seconds left on the clock.
The Broncos got within a point on a free throw by junior Ashley Spear with 26 ticks remaining.
Junior Danielle Dumais put the Broncos ahead for good by sinking two clutch free throws with 21 second left.
Tolman couldnât capitalize down the stretch, turning the ball over in the closing seconds.
For Tiger coach Tammy Drape and her young squad, the loss is their sixth by nine points or less and puts them at 3-9 in the division. Burrillville upped its mark to 9-4.
âWe lost a couple of bodies so we are trying to figure out our rotations,â Drape said. â(Today), it was just lack of poor game management.â
The two teams fought through a close first half. Burrillville missed a number of layups and close shots in the early part of the half and trailed by three (14-11) with about 10 minutes remaining. With six unanswered points, including four from sophomore Tori Libby (team-high 15 points),Burrillville put the score to three in its favor at 17-14.
Tolman senior Danai Porter, the gameâs high scorer with 29 points, tied the score at 20 with an opposite side layup. But with a strong 9-2 streak the final 3:30 of the half, the Broncos went into the locker room with a 29-22 lead.
âWe pushed the ball,â said Rachlow, about her squadâs spurt. âWe could see that they were tired going into the half. We got speed so we pushed the ball up court. We knew we could get some layups. They had some of their smaller girls inâŠWe were getting some bunnies, close-up. We really didnât hit many outside shots tonight. It was all about getting it to the hole.â
Drape was obviously frustrated by her teamâs performance at the tail end of the half.
âPersonally, I think my team was not disciplined enough running the half-court offense,â she said. âIt seemed we were lacking that structure.â
The Tigers managed to kill any momentum by the Broncos to begin the second half with a 10-2 run that featured six points from Porter. The two teams battled through a tight second half. Burrillville matched its biggest lead of the final stanza, a six-point cushion, on a shot underneath from junior Emma Lapierre (14 points) to put her teammates ahead by a score of 44-38 with 3:30 left.
But the Tigers didnât give up by responding with their eight unanswered points before Dumais was eventually able to hit the crucial shots with her two free throws.
The junior was just the player that Rachlow wanted at the charity stripe.
âA lot of times in practice we do scenarios,â the Burrillville coach said. âSheâs the one I do it with the most. Sheâs my point guard. She drives the ball all the time. All I said to her was, âitâs scenario time. Itâs a one-and-one, you got 20 seconds, now do what you always do.â She hit them in the clutch.â
The victory by the Broncos comes after a narrow 45-40 setback to Scituate on Wednesday, their second game of six straight road tilts. Burrillville travels to first-place Moses Brown on Tuesday.
âIt was a very frustrating loss to Scituate,â Rachlow admitted. âWe didnât want to feel that way again. We are on a big, away run. We got to take these tough wins on the road.â
Tolman, which lost to Burrillville by eight points (52-44) on Jan. 23, will look to regroup next week. The Tigers bus to Chariho on Monday for a non-leaguer and resume their league schedule on Wednesday with a home contest against Central Falls.
âThey played hard (tonight),â Drape said. âWhen you lose and still play hard, you canât really get frustrated with them. Itâs hard to keep them focused when they are losing. These games hurt, the one-point, the five-point losses.â
BURRILLVILLE (48) â Tori Libby 5 5-6 15, Danielle Dumais 2 3-9 7, Ashley Spear 3 4-10 10, Shannon Murphy 0 0-2 0, Vanessa Fulluam 0 0-2 0, Alyssa Lemire 1 0-1 2, Emma Lapierre 5 4-5 14. Totals â 16 16-34 48
TOLMAN (47) â Brittany Bilodeau 1 0-0 2, Francheska Kelly 2 0-0 4, Danai Porter 14 1-3 29, Arina Wood 1 1-2 3. Totals â 22 3-7 47
Halftime â B, 29-22.