NORWELL — On a night in which star guard Kristi Vierra was held in check early, her Norwell teammates stepped up to build a comfortable cushion in a pivotal 43-28 victory over Middleborough Friday night.
Vierra, a senior and reigning league MVP, was held to 8 points in the first three quarters of an early season South Shore League Sullivan Division battle. Led by 5-foot-10-inch freshman Grace Oliver (14 points, 13 rebounds), the Clippers (5-1) built a 12-point lead heading into the final frame.
“It’s crucial to have all five playing as a unit at any given time,” Vierra said. “Definitely pounding it in the paint, having bigs who are really physical and ready to is huge, especially when I’m not on my game and my shot isn’t there.”
The No. 15 Sachems (4-1) struggled to find an offensive rhythm, and Norwell never trailed. Their stingy defense allowed just eight field goals.
“As a team, that was a very good ugly win,” Norwell coach Matthew Marani said. “That’s a very good Middleborough team and we had to grind out every possession. I think we won on the defensive end and made things difficult for them.”
Middleborough didn’t quit, but the Norwell lead remained double digits the rest of the way. Vierra heated up in the fourth with 10 of her game-high 18 points. She utilized a killer in and out move to change speeds effectively, getting to the basket with ease. She knew her offensive struggles weren’t going to last.
“It happens every once in a while, but shooters just got to keep shooting,” Vierra said. “That’s what I do. I just started driving a little more and getting to the foul line, getting my stroke down with free throws.”
Other than Vierra and Oliver, no Clipper scored more than 4 points. Eleven players got minutes, and all made an impact.
“We had a lot of kids who gave us some great moments,” Marani said. “It was singular moments for a lot of kids that were nice. We’re coming together as a team, and we showed some resiliency.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.