BARRE — The new year represents a chance to restart the season, and as teams head to division play, the U-32 Raiders seem ready.
They jumped out to an early lead Wednesday evening against Spaulding, and had to hold off the Crimson Tide to come away with a 50-46 victory. With Capital Division play set to commence later this week, the Raiders seized the opportunity to get over the .500 hump, albeit against a much improved Spaulding team that has yet to ink a win on the season.
“The first quarter was great for us defensively, then dropped off a bit in the second and gave up 14 points,” U-32 coach Travis Paquet said. “And then it became a defensive hack-fest in the fourth.”
U-32’s Mikayla Farnum led all scorers, netting a game-high 18 points with Payton Gariboldi joining her in double figures. Spaulding was led by sophomore Natalie Folland with a team-high 16 points and Samantha Owen, who had 12.
Thanks to the quick start, the Raiders led for the entire first half. By the second quarter they opened a double-digit lead behind the efforts of Gariboldi, Farnum and Emily Ehret, who all canned three-pointers on the way to a 29-20 lead by halftime.
It’s been quite some time since the Spaulding girls team has been competitive. The contributions of seniors Owen and Cheyenne Hathaway are readily observed, but the emergence of a true scorer has eluded the team, and it’s been something coach James Carpenter hopes to see Folland become. Folland possesses a nice inside-out game with the ability to face the basket from deep and move around the paint. With a little bit more seasoning she may be just the weapon the team has been lacking at crunch time.
“We got down early and set ourselves in a hole, but we spent so much energy catching up we just weren’t able to get over the hump,” Carpenter said. “When Natalie Folland is rolling. We’re rolling. She has a great intellect and court vision ... We preach a lot about being a “ready shooter,” and now that Natalie is in her second season as a varsity player she’s seeing her role change from a facilitator to a scorer.”
After scratching back into the game through the third, Folland opened the fourth for the Tide by canning a three-pointer to pull within a point 36-35. After a free throw on the other end, Premont hit the lane for a pretty runner to tie the game at 37 on the next possession.
As they got back into the game though, the Tide became smitten with foul trouble and the Raiders were more than happy to take advantage of it, through the bonus and into the double bonus. Down the stretch the team made their free throws as the Tide missed theirs to provide the biggest difference.
“I was a little nervous going out there as I was playing at a guard position instead of a frontcourt position as I have my entire high school career,” Farnum said. “Talking is huge for us though and important for our defense to work. In the second half I think our communication really improved and helped us to stay focused defensively, which allowed us to come away with the win.”
U-32 (4-3) welcomes Lamoille on Tuesday. Spaulding (0-5) looks to get their first win as they welcome Essex on Friday.