LAWRENCE — Nadeshka Bridgewater took exception to Billerica’s strategy that limiting her to 3-pointers would render her ineffective.
The 5-foot-3-inch senior guard from Lawrence is known for scoring off a quick first step. But on Sunday, Bridgewater provided a 3-point barrage in leading fourth-ranked Central Catholic to a 61-55 Merrimack Valley Conference win over visiting Billerica.
Bridgewater connected on 6 of 13 attempts from distance as part of her team-high 24 points.
“I had to prove them wrong,” Bridgewater said. “I had to get out of my comfort zone in order to get a ‘dub.’ ”
At first, Bridgewater struggled with the defense thrown at her. Billerica junior Madison Bonvie was assigned to Bridgewater, but only actually guarded her when Bridgewater approached the paint. Central Catholic (14-1) relies on Bridgewater’s craftiness, lightning quickness, and ability to create open space for herself and others. Bridgewater’s area to operate changed, and after missing her first three 3-point attempts, she figured it out.
Bridgewater is as quick as they come, so the visitors tried to limit her ability to attack downhill. It worked at times, but Bridgewater helped the Raiders stay in a close game before cruising comfortably in the fourth quarter.
“They sagged off her last year, but they over-exaggerated this year so it kind of threw us for a loop,” said Central Catholic coach Casey Grange. “Luckily, she hit a few. I’ll take her six 3s any day.”
Grange moved Bridgewater to playing more off the ball, which allowed the star guard to take more shots in rhythm and forced her defender to abandon her post roving the paint.
They play again on Feb. 11 at Billerica.
“We’ll have to make some adjustments as a coaching staff and figure out a way to get her more opportunities to drive,” Grange said.
Bridgewater will play collegiately at Merrimack, where she will join former Globe All-Scholastic and current Warrior freshman guard Kaylee Thomas, on the women’s basketball team.
Central Catholic has all but locked up the MVC with its undefeated conference record. That’s far from the goal. In each of the last two seasons, the Raiders fell to Braintree in the state semifinals.
They know the sting of exiting the tournament at the Garden, and Bridgewater is prepared to lead the team in all aspects.
“I keep them accountable, for one,” she said. “It’s more than just basketball for us, so when we come to the court, we click.”
Junior forward Madison Watford led visiting Billerica (10-4) with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Cardinal Spellman 57, Hull 35 — Mariah Harris scored 24 points, Mairead Gallagher added 13 points, and Antoniette Okoh tallied 12 points to lead the Cardinals (5-11) past the Pirates.
North Reading 43, Wakefield 35 — Senior Ali Grasso scored 16 points and junior Julia House added 14 points to lead the Hornets (7-6) past the Warriors.
Somerset Berkley 54, Dighton-Rehoboth 45 — Jessica Salamone led the way with 18 points as the Raiders (10-6) picked up a home win against the Falcons.
Belmont 86, Catholic Memorial 84 — Preston Jackson-Stephens poured in 29 points and the 16th-ranked Marauders (13-3) converted 18 of their 19 free-throw attempts to knock off the No. 7 Knights (11-3) in West Roxbury. Kurtis Henderson had 22 points for CM.
Brockton 64, Newton North 59 — The Boxers (13-1) extended their winning streak to 11 games after escaping the Tigers in overtime. The Tigers used a 10-0 fourth quarter run to force overtime after Brockton’s Diamond Blakely missed three straight free throws with less than a second remaining in regulation. In overtime, Nayvon Reid put the Boxers up, 61-59, before Todd Robinson nailed a corner 3-pointer to ice the game for the Boxers.
Dartmouth 59, Apponequet 51 — Eric Viera scored 17 points and Cam Dennis added 14 points to help the Indians (7-8) defeat the Lakers. The Indians qualified for the state tournament with the win.
Dighton-Rehoboth 58, Somerset Berkley 57 — Senior Shane Mellow sank a mid-range go-ahead jump shot with 37 seconds remaining in the game to give the Falcons (10-4) a narrow win over the Raiders.
Duxbury 59, Archbishop Williams 53 — Junior Cam Reagan dropped in 31 points as the host Green Dragons (5-11) down the Bishops.
Walpole 52, Framingham 51 — Sophomore Ryan King had 15 points to lead the Rebels (2-13).
BC High 2, St. Mary’s 0 — Aidan Carey scored an empty-netter with three seconds remaining to secure the win for the third-ranked Eagles (10-3-2) over the No. 11 Spartans at the Clark Center.
Whitman-Hanson 4, Scituate 1 — Adam Solari scored a hat trick as the Panthers (12-4) took the road win against the Sailors.
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