The Generals traveled to Marblehead for the back end of a home-and-home series with the Magicians on Thursday and despite losing 41-32, the team had reason to keep their heads high.
The Lady Magicians dominated the first eight minutes of play, not allowing a single point scored throughout the opening quarter and holding a 15-0 lead. The home team controlled the glass in the first frame, paced by senior captain Carly McIver's six rebounds.
The Generals scored their first field goal 43 seconds into the second, and the scoring differential of the quarter was far more competitive than the first, as the Magicians outscored Hamilton-Wenham 10-7 in the period.
Hamilton-Wenham's struggles in the first half were the result of Marblehead's strong interior defense and concerted effort in rebounding, but the Generals' defensive effort began to yield results as the half came to a close. Freshman guard Haley Willis chased down Marblehead freshman Emily Freedland for a basket-saving block that got her team fired up.
"There was nothing going on offensively," said General's Head Coach Bill Burridge of the first half. "We had our opportunities but we didn't run our offense as well as we are capable of running it."
Marblehead's Olivia Raisner led all scorers with seven points at halftime, while McIver tallied six points and seven rebounds.
The Hamilton-Wenham defense began the second half the same way it ended the first, with high-energy and creating turnovers.
The Magicians settled in after the first few minutes of the half, and put in 10 points to Hamilton-Wenham's six in the quarter, pushing the score to 35-13 heading into the fourth. McIver added four more rebounds to the stat sheet, and finished the day with a total of 11 boards.
Just as all seemed lost for the young Generals team, Coach Burridge implemented a full–court press that forced Marblehead's second unit to turn the ball over, creating scoring chances for the visitors.
Sophomore guard Emily Gaucher put on a scrappy performance defensively, and a balanced scoring attack sparked a late-game rally. Down 41-23 with three minutes remaining in regulation, Hamilton-Wenham strung together a quick 7-0 run that included a steal off an inbound pass, a forced turnover along the sidelines, and a three pointer from the corner out of the hands of sophomore Jennifer Cook.
After the run, the lead stood at 11 points; the smallest lead since the opening quarter. Marblehead coach Likins called a timeout for Marblehead, and after regrouping the home squad regained form and held on for a 41-32 victory.
"We didn't quit and there is a lot to be said for that," said coach Burridge after the game. "We have a lot of work to do but we are a young team and I was pleased with the effort. [Marblehead] is a veteran team and I think they'll do well the rest of the season."