Reading is more than familiar with being on this stage.
Just last year the Rockets edged Scituate in overtime to win the EMass championship at TD Garden, and went on to win a state title. But in Monday’s Division 2 EMass championship game, Medfield did the celebrating, beating Reading, 59-51, in overtime on the parquet to advance to the state championship and end the Rockets’ 48-game winning streak.
After scoring the first basket of the game, the Rockets (23-1) never led again until late in the fourth quarter. With about 20 seconds left on the clock, junior Bridget Clements (14 points) drilled a 3-pointer to put Reading ahead by 1.
On the ensuing possession, Medfield’s Lauren Petit (9 points) threw up a desperation 3-pointer and was fouled, sending her to the line for some crucial free throws. Petit missed the first shot and made the second to tie the game at 49. She missed the third to send the game to overtime.
However, she got her redemption in the OT period as she went 5 of 6 from the line.
“We knew they were undefeated, that was a driving force,” Petit admitted. “We wanted to be the first team to beat them in two years. It was great to defeat the defending champs because we were the underdogs and we had something to prove.”
The Warriors (24-1) made their statement loud and clear from the beginning, building a 23-8 lead after a dominant first quarter. Medfield’s halfcourt press was a nightmare for the Rockets, forcing numerous turnovers that resulted in quick baskets for the Warriors.
Olivia Healy (27 points) took matters into her own hands and scored 10 of Reading’s 13 second-quarter points to cut the deficit to 11 at the break.
Healy scored 6 consecutive points in the third to get the Rockets within 5, but Medfield was able to close the quarter on a 7-0 run heading into the fourth.
Still, the Warriors, who shot 42 free throws to Reading’s eight, let the Rockets stick around for too long and that came back to haunt them. Medfield’s aggressiveness allowed the team to get to the line frequently, which made a significant difference down the stretch.
“That was the key to us getting off to a good start today,” said coach Mark Nickerson about the physical play.
“I thought we abandoned it a little bit, unfortunately, in the second half and I think that allowed them to climb back in.”
Besides ending the 48-game winning streak, the loss is especially tough to deal with for Rockets coach Kim Penney, who said this was her last game at the helm.
“It’s tough; it’s weird. I feel like a senior,” said an emotional Penney, who coached the Rockets for 15 years. “It hasn’t hit me yet. This [senior class] is extra special for me because I’m going out with them.”
As for the Warriors, the dream of winning a state title continues.