April 4, 2020

Seekonk Girls Basketball Takes Big Step Toward Playoffs

Seekonk 56, Wareham 33

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SEEKONK - The Seekonk girls basketball team took a big step toward the playoffs Friday night, and they did it by besting the type of defense they’ll likely see in the postseason.

With Wareham double-teaming senior captain and three-time league all-star Mia DiBiase almost every time she crossed halfcourt, the rest of the Warriors responded with big games in a 56-33 victory.

“The other shooters did a great job, and that’s what we need them to do,” Seekonk coach Bill Paulo said after the game. “When they try to take Mia away, one or two others need to step up to get the job done, and that’s what happened tonight. Everyone stepped up, 1-8.”

The victory pushed Seekonk to 9-5 on the season, one win shy of the 10 that’s needed to qualify for the MIAA playoffs. The Warriors have six games left in the regular season, starting with Tuesday night’s road matchup at Bourne.

“The first thing we want to do at the beginning of the season is make the tournament, get to 10 wins,” Paulo said. “All our reminain games are tough, so hopefully we can find at least one with a win then a couple more and see what happens.”

REPORTERTODAY.COM MVP: Sophomore Kate Leinson got many open looks from the floor with the Vikings paying extra attention to DiBiase and delivered on most of them, hitting five three-pointers and finishing with a game-high 19 points to lead the Warriors. She nailed back-to-back threes near the end of the third quarter to turn a six-point lead into a 12-point cushion. “She shot the ball with confidence. That’s big,” Paulo said. “Kate’s a great player. She does anything we ask of her. She was guarding one of their best shooters on the defensive end and was moving the ball and hitting shots on offense.”

PRESSURE AT THE TOP: The Vikings began trapping DiBiase after she crossed halfcourt in the second quarter and stuck with defense most of the game. “We needed to get the ball out of her hands, so we worked to deny her right at the top,” Wareham assistant coach Aaron Baptiste said after the game. The Warriors made an adjustment, and DiBiase started dumping the ball inside to the free throw line to evade the trap, then Seekonk would spread it around to open shooters on the perimeter. “She was playing very unselfish,” Paulo said. “She moved it into the middle and we were dishing it back out. As the game went along, she was able to turn the corner and really set up her teammates.” DiBiase, a point guard who’s headed to Salve Regina next season, only had one field goal in the game (a three-pointer early in the first), but finished with 15 points thanks to a 12-for-14 performance at the foul line. “She’s a really good player. She’s automatic from the free throw line, so we tried to keep her off of it but she draws fouls really well and gets to the line. She does her job,” Baptiste said.

TURN THE CORNER: The Warriors trailed 17-14 in the second quarter but finished the half on a 12-1 run for an eight-point lead (26-18) at the break. The Vikings scored the first five points of the third quarter to close the gap to three, but Wareham coach Dave Brogioli received two technical fouls and was ejected with 4:02 left in the third after arguing calls with the officials. The technicals led to four Seekonk free throws, of which DiBiase made three of them, as the Warriors closed the third quarter on a 13-2 and opened the fourth with a 13-4 run to pull away. “Once our coach got kicked out, the energy went straight down,” said Baptiste, who took over for Brogioli on the bench after the ejection. “It seemed like the game was one-sided from there.” Paulo gathered the Warriors on the sidelines while the officials were communicating with Borgioli. “I told our girls to keep their composure,” he said. “Mia hit three of those free throws, that was big, then we got a couple of threes. We did a good job to refocus and get the job done from there.”

QUICK HITS: Lauren Paulo hit three three-pointers and finished with 13 points. “She shot the ball well. Her and Kate were getting open looks,” coach Paulo said. … The Warriors started slow with only nine points in the first quarter. They got good looks at the basket but couldn’t hit shots. “We were a little sloppy early in the first quarter but played pretty well the rest of the way,” Paulo said. “We weren’t hitting anything early. We had some wide open shots but they just didn’t fall. Once we started hitting some shots, we got some separation.” … Not only are the Warriors one win away from the playoffs, they’re one win away from matching last year’s win total of 10. Last season, Seekonk was the No. 14 seed in the Div. 3 South playoffs with a 10-10 record and fell to eventual South runner-up, No. 3 Apponequet, 56-31 in the First Round of the tournament. DiBiase led the Warriors with 19 points in that game, including four three-pointers. … Paulo credited sophomore Bria Dunphy and junior Lauren Tortolani with their defense and rebounding. “I thought they did a nice job underneath,” he said, while also pointing out that freshman Ally Dantas contributed with five points. “Ally made some big shots. The whole team stepped up tonight to get the job done.” … Freshman Maggie McKitchen had four points on four free throws, but added some tough rebounds and had a handful of blocked shots. … Needing only one win in the final six games to make the playoffs, the Warriors not only have an excellent chance to punch a postseason ticket, but they also have a good chance to get above 10 wins and improve their record for seeding purposes. Seekonk has a 4-2 record this season against their final six opponents with wins over Fairhaven, Dighton-Rehoboth, Somerset Berkley and Case and close losses to Bourne (four points) and Norton (six points). … The win pushed Seekonk’s SCC record to 7-3 and 4-1 in the Gold Division.

SEEKONK 56, WAREHAM 33
Wareham   5  13   7 8-33
Seekonk     9  17 13 17-56
Scoring
Wareham: Alexandria James 2, Grace Cerrato 14, Amanda Johnson 5, Laura Pinkston 2, Mollie Johnson 8, Makayla Carbone 2.
Seekonk: Kate Leinson 19, Mia DiBiase 15, Ally Dantas 5, Lauren Paulo 13, Maggie McKitchen 4.
Three-point goals
Wareham: Grace Cerrato 3
Seekonk: Kate Leinson 5, Mia DiBiase, Ally Dantas, Lauren Paulo 3

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