Warriors beat Melrose on Senior Day

Feb 17, 2021 by

Travel to Woburn today for quarterfinals

Published February 17, 2021

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield High girls’ basketball seniors celebrated their final game at the Charbonneau Field House with a resounding 54-29 win over rival Melrose on Saturday morning. 

THE WAKEFIELD girls’ basketball seniors were honored before their victory over Melrose on Saturday. Pictured with their families from left to right are seniors ReignYah Grant, Leah Goddard, Clara Butler and Brianna Lotti. (Courtesy Photo)

Buoyed by the presence of senior parents for the first time this season, the four Wakefield seniors, captains Clara Butler, ReignYah Grant and Brianna Lotti, and Leah Goddard were honored for their dedication to the program and went on to put on a show. Lotti finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists; Butler had 3 rebounds and played strong defense with 2 steals; Goddard and Grant provided a boost in the 4th quarter. Grant had 3 points, a long two with just seconds left resulting in the loudest cheer of the season from the Warrior bench.

Wakefield junior Ashlee Purcell had 20 points, 5 rebounds and 9 steals. Junior Emma Shinney had 11 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Junior Sophie Brown had 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Sophomores Mia Forti (4 pts) and Emma Quinn (4 pts, 3 steals) also had strong games as every Warrior worked hard to make sure the seniors were victorious in their last home game. 

“It was a great way to send off our four seniors,” said Pavey. “All year long, we’ve been focusing on controlling what we can control; with the most controllable being our effort. Giving a max effort was the best gift we could give to the seniors. Our defensive effort was off the charts.”

The two teams played to a close 12-9 in the first quarter before Wakefield’s defense reached another level in the 2nd. Wakefield won the 2nd quarter by a 22-9 score as their defensive effort led to plenty of open looks, thanks in large part to Purcell who piled up steal after steal from anticipating passes at the top of key. Shinney got going with a mid range jumper and a couple of nice drives to the hoop as the Warriors pulled away. 

Lotti battled for a defensive rebound and drew a foul leading to free throws. She had a strong 3rd quarter as well, leading it off with an and-one and following up with a free throw line jumper for two. 

“Brianna has missed almost two years battling knee injuries. She worked so hard just to come back for her senior year,” said Pavey. “More than any kid, I’m most happy we got to have a season so Brianna could get on the court. She’s the definition of leading by example. This year she worked her way into the starting lineup and was just a steadying force for us. We’re a young team and having Brianna out there to keep them composed and focused has been invaluable.”

Butler, another four-year player and one of Wakefield’s best shooters and a versatile defender, focused more on defense and rebounding than looking for her own shot. 

“Clara has really taken her game to the next level this year,” said Pavey. “Clara has really developed the confidence to be a go to player. She’s worked to become one of the best shooters in the league. She’s become a real offensive threat and one of our leading scorers this year.

“Her 12 points (4 threes) in the last three minutes of the half vs Watertown was just unreal. I’ve never coached a player who’s been that hot before. She’s also worked really hard as a captain; keeping the team upbeat and dialed in.”

Wakefield kept up their defensive intensity in the 3rd quarter and even in the 4th when Goddard was flying around the court. 

“She’s worked really hard to get a spot on this year’s team,” said Pavey of Goddard. “A lot of kids would’ve looked at the circumstances that were needed to play this season and say ‘no thanks.’ But Leah’s commitment to this team has been off the charts. She’s an unbelievable teammate and has been a huge part of why the chemistry of the team is so great.”

While it was a great day for all seniors, the lasting memory of Senior Day 2021 will be Grant’s jumper at the end. If you ever wonder how a student athlete is viewed by their teammates, look for the reaction when she does something great. The response to Grant’s success was a reciprocation of how she supports and empowers her teammates.

“ReignYah has to do a lot to be part of this team. Being a METCO student is always tough in terms of schedule: early mornings and late nights. This year was even more of a challenge. The hybrid schedule meant ReignYah sometimes was coming all the way into Wakefield for a 90 minute practice. It’s just such a sacrifice,” said Pavey. “Through it all, ReignYah has remained the heart and soul of the team. Her personality is infectious and she’s just always so positive. That jumper she hit vs Melrose and the team’s reaction was one the highlights of the year. You can’t not root for ReignYah.”

The Warriors moved to 8-4 when they beat Melrose in the rematch on Monday 47-26. It was the fifth consecutive win for Wakefield who is now 5-0 in the month of February. 

Brown led the way for Wakefield with 15 points followed by Shinney who had 13. 

A defensive battle ended 4-4 after one as there were no baskets scored in the first three minutes. 

The Warriors continued their strong defensive play in the 2nd while Brown and Shinney found success going to the hoop and hitting a couple 3’s. The Warriors were up 25-8 at halftime. 

Wakefield’s zone was especially effective in the 3rd as they closed with a 33-12 lead and Brown, Shinney, Lotti and Grant all played well in the fourth to close with some offense. 

The No. 5 Warriors will look to keep it going when they travel to No. 4 Woburn today at 5 p.m. for a first round game. The winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday where they will meet the winner of No. 1 Burlington vs. No. 8 Reading. Tonight’s game will be live streamed on the Woburn Public Media Center YouTube page. Just type Woburn Public Media Center in the YouTube search bar.

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