Ipswich girls defeat HW 60-40 despite Amber Smith graduation

Hannah O’Flynn lines up for one of her 24 points as HW’s Sophie Prince looks on

(Ipswich) Coach Mandy Zegarowski has led the Ipswich High Schools girl’s basketball team to seven straight MIAA tourney appearances.  After watching the team defeat visiting Hamilton-Wenham, 60-40, on Friday night at Ipswich, I wouldn’t bet against an 8th appearance.

The Tigers graduated Amber Smith (all-time career scorer) to UMaine but are still off to a 3-0 start.  How are they now winning, you ask?  Friday night the catalyst was a three-quarter court pressing defense that served up one delicious turnover after another.

The Tigers were quick to convert the turnovers to easy layups and/or foul shots and raced to a commanding 38-21 lead.

Junior Hannah O’Flynn (5’11”) was on the front end of that 2-2-1 press and tallied quite a few of her game-leading 24 points off the General giveaways.

Coach Zegarowski’s pressing strategy made perfect sense because relying on a less active half-court defense with Simone Prioli on the other team was asking for trouble.  Simone (senior) has over 500 points for HW despite missing last season with a knee injury.  Good enough to attract Bates College – signed on with them recently.

The Tigers built up a 38-21 halftime advantage.  Most of the HW points came when they successfully got beyond the IHS pressure for free trips to the basket.

A slow scoring start in the third quarter turned off the Tigers’ made-basket press and HW prospered in the opportunity to run a set offense and cut a 17-point lead into single digits.  Ispwich recovered to put some points on the board and back came their devastating press and the lead was back to seventeen (49-32) by the end of the third quarter.  Both teams cleared their benches in the final quarter.

Simone was not the only player back from a missing season.  Stephanie Sutherby (senior) was as well.  I was on hand last season at North Reading in the opener when Stephanie hurt her knee and was lost for the season.  The IHS girls were thereafter forced to play without an experienced point guard, kind of like the IHS boys this season.  How good would the 2008-09 Tiger girls have been with Stephanie on hand?

Stephanie Sutherby (#13) hits a corner shot for the Tigers.

Stephanie vs HW was a key in the press with numerous steals that led to assists.  She also scored 12 points.

Hannah and Lia Webb dominated the boards at both ends.  Many of the IHS points came from in close.

The Tigers did an excellent job of keeping the ball away from Simone when half-court defense was required.

Ipswich is off to a 3-0 start thanks to wins over Cape Ann League Division 2 opponents.  Ahead are D1 opponents Triton (Monday) and Wilmington (Wednesday) at home.  Those games could give a better indication of how good the Tiger girls really are.

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