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Girls' basketball

Unbeaten Scituate works on maintaining composure

In any athletic event, in any season, in any sport, composure is key. But when you’re the Scituate girls’ basketball team sitting at 16-0 with just over two weeks remaining in the season, composure is everything.

“We’re able to react to situations pretty well and we understand what we have to do,’’ coach Brian Buckley said. “We don’t get ahead of ourselves too much.’’

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The team doesn’t focus on the record, instead Scituate sets a series of goals throughout the season to keep the players focused on the game ahead.

“We don’t even talk about our record, we don’t mention it in practice, we don’t talk about it,’’ Buckley said.

The first goal was to win the Scituate Classic Christmas tournament, which the Sailors did. The next was to win the Patriot League Championship, which the girls clinched by beating Quincy Tuesday.

Staying composed in tight situations has helped the Sailors come out on top. Buckley believes the team chemistry and determination to improve everyday is what has kept the girls moving in the right direction.

“[The girls] understand their roles. We have balanced scoring, everyone contributes in a different way, our team chemistry and our team balance is something special,’’ Buckley said.

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“It doesn’t happen very often and we’ve been lucky to have that.’’

Seniors Shannon Brady and Megan Otto and junior Kelly Martin are Scituate’s leaders. All three players average between 14 and 15 points a game.

Martin is the point guard and controls the tempo of the game. Brady camps out down low, utilizing her height and Otto, who netted her 1,000th career point last week, is a sharp outside shooter.

In a pressure situation, with the game on the line, Martin has the ball.

“Having Kelly with the ball is key. She can determine if she passes to Megan, feeds it to Shannon or takes it to the basket herself,’’ Buckley said. “She handles the ball for us, she’s an excellent scorer as well as a passer and she’s able to dictate the game.’’

The Sailors are tall and very fast. Buckley focuses on team speed, with running a priority in practice. While you won’t see the Scituate players running standard sprints up and down the court for the entire practice, every drill Buckley asks his team to execute demands speed.

“We try to run as much as we can within the scope of the practice. Every single drill that we have is based on running and catching and passing quickly,’’ Buckley said. “Being under control but still moving quickly. And we do spend a lot of time on drill work, foot work. You have to think on your feet as well as be able to execute quickly.

“We think that’s the difference when we get into a game situation.’’

That quickness helps the Sailors run a fast break offense, but their height, especially with Brady in the low post, allows them to be a threat in a set, half-court offense as well.

“We’re actually a combination team, we have good size and we are very fast. Offensively we fast break but we also have a great inside game,’’ Buckley reiterated. “We are very good in the post, but we are able to run when we have to get quick baskets.’’

Defensively, Buckley likes to switch up his coverage to make it difficult for opponents to read defenses.

“Our main defense is our man-to-man. That’s what we go to in pressure situations, at the same time we use presses and a variety of zone defenses,’’ Buckley said.

On paper, the Sailors have a perfect season going, but according to Buckley, the team is far from perfect. There is always something to work on, he says, always somewhere to improve.

“Overall we’re very excited with the progress we’ve made,’’ said Buckley. “A lot of times when you’re having a season like this you don’t see the progress.’’

Where he has seen the most progress has been in rebounding on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

“Team rebounding has really been very successful in the last few games for us. It gives us opportunities to score at one end of the court and [end] other teams’ runs,’’ Buckley said.

“Shot selection [has also improved]. We are doing much better getting quality shots and not rushing opportunities. Those two things we’ve improved on the most.’’

With the season coming to a close and tournament time around the corner, the Sailors find themselves in prime position to be a contender in Division 3. But Buckley is cautious.

“For us to move forward in the tournament we are going to have to be able to handle good pressure defense, we are going to have to handle the ball,’’ Buckley said. “The tournament teams play good defense, respond to the defense. We are going to have to be able to do that if we want to advance.’’

For now though, the Sailors are not getting ahead of themselves.

“There is still a lot of basketball left to play,’’ said Buckley. “So we try to keep our kids focused and stay composed.’’

2012 Spartan Classic

The 2012 Spartan Classic pairings have been announced. The tournament will kick off on Sunday, Feb, 19 at St. Mary’s in Lynn. Melrose and Gloucester will start at 11 a.m. Tewksbury and North Andover will play at 12:30 and No. 6 Billerica will face Peabody in the 2:15 game. No. 11 Woburn will face No. 4 Lynn English at 4 p.m., Weston and Swampscott will play at 5:45 and Ipswich will face host team St. Mary’s in the closing game at 7:30 p.m.

The second round of games will take place Monday, Feb. 20, with the winner’s bracket contests beginning at 4 p.m.

Games of the week

No. 1 Andover at No. 6 Billerica, Tue., 7 p.m. - The last time these two teams met, the Golden Warriors narrowly saved their undefeated season with a 53-52 victory. With Tuesday’s game being played on the Indians’ home court, Andover will have an even tougher test. If Billerica comes out with their best performance of the season, the Indians could make this the upset of the year.

No. 2 Reading at No. 11 Woburn, Fri., 5:30 p.m. - Last time out, Reading defeated Woburn, 54-45, in a game closer than the score suggests. Friday’s game against the Tanners presents the toughest challenge standing between the Rockets and an undefeated season.

No. 20 Medford at No. 4 Lynn English, Wed., 7 p.m. - Medford is responsible for Lynn English’s only loss of the season. The Bulldogs will look to avenge that loss and remain at the top of the standings as they play host to the Mustangs.

No. 15 Westford at Central Catholic, Tues., 7 p.m. - After a loss to Acton-Boxboro last week, Westford will look to get back on track against a Central Catholic squad that has struggled this season after an injury took out their top player.

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