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Defense can’t save day in Concord girls’ basketball team’s opener

As the Concord girls’ basketball program tries to rebuild, Mike Achilles wants the foundation to be defense. And the Crimson Tide coach got what he wanted in the first half of the season opener last night.

Concord held Dover to a mere 19 points on 29 percent shooting in that first half and forced seven Green Wave turnovers. The problem for the Crimson Tide was it shot 20 percent and scored just 10 in those opening 16 minutes. And after halftime, Dover found its rhythm and worked its way to a 51-33 win.

“I was happy with the defense, I liked the intensity. When we set up defensively we communicated and did well,” Achilles said. “We were a little impatient on the offensive end, and we ended up getting in a running game, and it’s tough to play a chaotic game with young players.”

The Tide is young (more than half the players are underclassmen), but it got some steadying play from senior co-captains Brynne Rardin and Catherine Monroe. Rardin (six points, four rebounds) broke the scoring ice at the quiet Concord gym with the first bucket of the game, and Monroe came off the bench with effort and calming influence.

But the Tide’s leading scorers were a pair of sophomores – point guard Janessa Luciano (10 points) and forward Cassidy Emerson (nine points, seven rebounds), who asserted her presence on both ends of the floor.

“Cassidy played hard,” Achilles said. “She was all over the floor taking charges and going for loose balls.”

When Emerson pulled down an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and turned it into an old-fashioned three-point play, it gave Concord a 7-6 edge with 1:35 left in the first quarter. Dover answered with five straight points and took an 11-7 lead after one, but the Tide was in it.

Concord then held Dover scoreless for the first 4:34 of the second, but the Tide could only cut one point off the lead during that stretch. Concord committed 10 turnovers in the second quarter, shot just 1-for-7 from the floor, and found itself down 19-10 at halftime after Dover’s Molly Wotton scored six quick points to close the half.

Wotton, a 6-foot junior center, maintained her grip on the game in the third quarter as she scored six of her game-high 12 points in the frame. Wotton (who also had seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks) and Katie Boyatis (seven points, three steals, three assists) keyed a 12-1 run to open the third that gave Dover a 31-11 lead midway through the quarter.

Despite the deficit, Concord didn’t back off, kept pressing through the fourth and outscored the Green Wave 15-14 in that last quarter. It wasn’t nearly enough to sway the game, but the Tide will take it as a positive as it keeps rebuilding.

“We had a lot of girls that played hard tonight, we just didn’t play together enough as a team,” Achilles said. “But we’ll get back to practice and back to work.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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