BRAINTREE — Tough and gritty.
Those are the hallmarks of a Kristen McDonnell-coached team at Braintree High.
“We try to have our defense be the reason for our offense, and hopefully we don’t back down and we’re resilient,” said McDonnell. “If that comes across, I think we’ve done something right as a staff.”
The seventh-ranked Wamps flashed their toughness and grit Friday evening to notch a 53-44 Bay State Conference victory over visiting Newton North, McDonnell’s 200th career win.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have the caliber of players I have, to have the assistant coaches I have, and I think we’ve really just tried to push focusing on one game at a time the last 10 years,” said McDonnell, who is 200-33 overall since she took the helm in 2009.
“More importantly, I just hope they’re having a really good time playing basketball and enjoying the experience.”
The Wamps (10-2), minus senior captain Jeniyah Jones because of an ankle sprain, were tied at 39 with six minutes to go. In the final minute, senior captain Adriana Timberlake (team-high 19 points) was injured with what appeared to be an ankle sprain of her own. But before her departure, she sparked the defending Division 1 state champions with a pair of free throws and a late 3, part of a 14-5 run, to put the game away.
“I didn’t even know it was her 200th victory before the game, but once I did it was awesome,” said Timberlake. “I wanted the win bad.”
The milestone victory brought back many memories for McDonnell, including a specific one against the Tigers (6-5).
“Games where we finally got over the hump and we were able to have our talent and effort match our wins and success [stick out], like the Newton North game back in the day, when we came back from down 20 points,” said McDonnell.
In her 9½ years with the Wamps, the former Stonehill College standout has helped produce five 1,000-point scorers, has watched five of her alums play at the Division 1 level, and has claimed three state titles.
She said her motivation and recipe for success are pretty simple.
“It comes down to who I’ve been lucky enough to coach, and watching them go on and be really successful at whatever they’re doing.”