Girls’ hoop wins four of five, improve to 4-3

Jan 16, 2020 by

Published January 16, 2020

By DAN NUNN

NORTH READING — Ali Grasso’s 19 point performance carried the Hornets to a tight 39-36 victory over rival Lynnfield on Friday night. It was the North Reading’s fourth win in their last five games.

NRHS struggled shooting the ball early on. They didn’t make a field goal for the first nine minutes and trailed 12-4 early on in the second quarter. But after a timeout at the 7:06 mark, the Hornets cranked up the defense and the offense responded. They closed the half on a 15-6 run to go up 19-18 at the break.

North Reading maintained the lead for most of the second half but couldn’t shake the Pioneers. With a little over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the advantage was 35-29. With 43.2 seconds left, Lynnfield had trimmed the score to 35-34. Luckily, Grasso hit four clutch free throws down the stretch to seal it.

HORNET JUNIOR forward Julia Howse drives to the basket in North Reading’s 55-40 victory over Manchester-Essex on Jan. 6. Howse had 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three assists to help NR win their third in a row. (Bob Turosz Photo)

Shorthanded Hornets drop close one to Newburyport 

On January 8, the Hornets traveled to Newburyport without the services of two key starters. The shorthanded squad battled all night but came up on the short end of a 38-36 Clippers win. The loss snapped North Reading’s three game winning streak and evened their record at 3-3.

Lauren Sullivan was terrific with an 11-point and 11-rebound double-double and Ali Grasso added 12 points, three rebounds and two steals.

“The girls showed tremendous resolve in battling a tough Newburyport team without the services of two key starters,” said head coach Bob Romeo.

The game was close throughout with neither team able to get more than a six-point lead. North Reading was up 12-10 after the first period, trailed 20-18 at halftime, and the game was tied at 24 after three quarters. In a back-and-forth final quarter, the Hornets got the ball back with 12 seconds left trailing by two. Unfortunately, their two last-chance shot attempts just missed.

Maul Manchester-Essex 55-40

Junior Julia Howse recorded a double-double to lead the Lady Hornets to their 55-40 home victory over the Manchester-Essex Hornets on January 6. It was North Reading’s third straight win and pushed their record to 3-2. Howse had an impressive stat line of 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.

Senior captain Ali Grasso (12 points, four rebounds, four assists), senior captain Lauren Sullivan (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists) and junior Sara Gerber (seven points, seven rebounds) provided plenty of support with Gerber providing outstanding defense on Manchester-Essex’s leading scorer. The North Reading guards applied constant pressure and forced 31 turnovers which led to 30 points.

The Hornets got off to a slow start offensively and trailed 10-8 after the first quarter. In the second stanza, freshman guard Brianne Slattery came off the bench and sparked a rally with two 3-pointers to give North Reading a 23–17 halftime lead. Sullivan and senior captain Kiley McCarthy helped stretch the lead to 38-28 after three quarters with their hot shooting. The Hornets continued to wear down Manchester-Essex in the fourth and went up by as much as 21.

Dismantle Triton 

Ten Hornets scored as NRHS picked up their second win in a row with a 49-20 demolition of the host Triton Vikings on Jan. 3. The defensive theme continued as North Reading held a third straight opponent to 35 points or less.

Julia Howse was outstanding with 12 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists and three steals. In her first start of the season, Sarah Gerber collected seven points and four rebounds. Senior tri-captains Kiley McCarthy (eight points, three rebounds) and Ali Grasso (six points, six assists) combined for four first quarter 3-pointers.

The Hornets exploded out of the gates. They opened the game on a 16-0 scoring binge and after four first quarter 3-pointers, led 23-10 after one. From that point on, the NRHS defense suffocated the Vikings as they held them to just three points for more than 18 minutes until midway through the fourth quarter.

Sting Warriors 46-33

North Reading earned their first win of the season with a hard-fought 46-33 road victory over Middlesex League foe Wakefield in non-league action on Dec. 29 to give head coach Bob Romeo his first win at the helm.

Senior captain Lauren Sullivan was terrific with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Junior forward Julia Howse stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals and fellow junior forward Sarah Gerber chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and three steals. North Reading forced 31 turnovers in the game.

“This was a momentum building win on the road against quality team. Our quality of play has improved with each game and hopefully we continue that trend going forward,” said Romeo.

The first half was close throughout but NRHS never trailed and they clung to a slim 19–17 halftime lead. But in the second half, the Hornets took control. They outscored the Warriors 27-16 and cruised to the 13-point win.

North Reading played Georgetown on Tuesday after press time. They host Newburyport tonight at 7 p.m.

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