WORCESTER — Saturday marked the end of an era for Braintree. For four years, Ashley Russell, Molly Reagan, and Bridget Herlihy led Braintree’s girls’ basketball team to four Eastern Mass. appearances and two Division 1 state final appearances.
“The best part is just the character and the class that they’ve carried themselves with throughout all of that winning,” Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell said.
The Wamps’ seniors did not end their high school careers quietly, winning their second consecutive Division 1 state title in a 64-43 rout of Springfield Central at the DCU Center.
For McDonnell, the win was bittersweet.
“It’s tough,” said McDonnell. “It’s the most bittersweet game I’ve ever had . . . It’s really tough knowing that it’s the last time the seniors are going to play with you. It’s hard not to get emotional because they’re amazing kids, amazing players.”
Junior forward Brianna Herlihy scored a team-high 15 points for Braintree (25-0). The game was especially emotional for Brianna Herlihy because it was her final contest with a group of girls she built a friendship with in the third grade.
“It’s very emotional for me because I never thought I’d see the day when I wouldn’t be able to play with them,” Brianna Herlihy said. “I mean, they’ve taught me everything I know.”
After Reagan scored the first basket of the game, Springfield Central’s Ishanna Jones (8 points) answered with a layup to tie the score at 2. For the next three minutes, it was all Braintree as the Wamps used a 15-0 run to regain the lead.
“Once we get going, you know, you always try to throw out the first punch as a team and I think we were able to do that tonight,” McDonnell said.
Braintree set the tone on the defensive end, limiting Springfield Central (21-6) to just three field goals in the first quarter.
Braintree took a 43-20 lead into halftime.
In addition to Herlihy, Russell added 14 points and Reagan 13.