Even early foul trouble for their leading scorer couldn’t prevent the Bulldogs from posting a 42-30 win on Wednesday night.
ROCKLAND — In recent years, the road to a South Shore League Sullivan Division title found a permanent stop on MacKinlay Way.
The Rockland High girls basketball team has put a stranglehold on the division crown by winning three consecutive titles, but upstart East Bridgewater looked to shake up the league’s hierarchy Wednesday night.
Rockland thwarted any notion of its reign coming to a premature end by using a stout defensive effort plus getting key contributions from junior Hannah Wyllie and freshman Julia Elie to stymie the visiting Vikings and earn a 42-30 SSL win.
“That’s one our goals is to win the South Shore League, but you have to beat Rockland,” said East Bridgewater head coach Andrew MacDonald. “Rockland, Norwell and then we like to think of ourselves as right there, but laying an egg, scoring 30 points, isn’t going to win any South Shore League titles. This is a tough place to play. It always will be. They’re a tough team.”
While junior Caroline Elie has carried the offensive load for Rockland (5-1, 2-0) by averaging 18.4 points per game through a quarter of the season, on this night the Bulldogs had to rely on Wyllie and Julia Elie.
The elder Elie faced early foul trouble – picking up two fouls midway through the first quarter – and an aggressive East Bridgewater (4-1, 1-1) defense that limited her to just eight points.
But Wyllie stepped up by posting a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds while being a menace defensively with seven blocks, and Julia Elie scored eight points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
“That was our first time with (Caroline Elie) in foul trouble in the first half, so I was interested to see, can people step up and maintain?” said Rockland head coach Diana Mitchell. “Luckily enough we had a lead and we were able to get through a good six, seven minutes and be able to maintain that lead. For everyone else to be able to do their job and hold them defensively and not turn the ball over, we got through some very key minutes.”
Rockland’s stellar defense and contributions from other role players, including juniors Hannah Murphy and Maryn Monett (eight points), buoyed the Bulldogs.
Rockland utilized a 2-1-2 zone defense along with a 1-3-1 look in the second half to pack the paint against Vikings senior center Cassie Hall (eight points), and it netted results early by holding East Bridgewater to just three points in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs’ zone defense, along with the presence of Wyllie down low, kept the Vikings on the perimeter, where they shot a dreadful 14 percent (3-for-21) from beyond the arc.
“We wanted to test them to see if they could shoot here and make them beat us from the outside,” Mitchell said.
Senior Peri Snow (12 points) scored half of her points in the second quarter to try to help East Bridgewater overcome its sluggish offensive start, but Rockland always had an answer.
Ashley and Hannah Murphy both hit second-quarter 3-pointers to respond to East Bridgewater baskets and open a 22-15 halftime lead.
Rockland built its largest advantage, 29-15, just 2:30 into the second half with a quick 7-0 run sparked by a bucket down low from Julia Elie and a corner trey from Monett.
East Bridgewater managed to cut the deficit to two possessions, 31-25, in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on a pair of free throws from Snow, but Monett hit a back-breaking, banked-in triple and the Vikings couldn’t generate enough offense to complete a comeback.
“They played some good defense and we couldn’t make a shot,” MacDonald said. “We got look after look and at the end of the day, basketball is about hitting shots when it counts and we didn’t do that. We always play hard, but now it’s starting to figure out who can put the ball in the hoop.”