Tigers Maul Lady Rebels despite Cullen’s Strong Effort

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Sophomore Lauren Bodin takes a charge against Newton North.

James Cullinane

A Rebel defender takes a charge against Newton North.

Over the past decade, the Walpole Rebels Girls Basketball Team has proven to be one of the strongest programs in the Bay State League.  Judging by the performance of Coach Stacy Bilodeau’s young team in the early going, this season seems to be a rebuilding year for this usually daunting squad.  After suffering blowout losses to Bay State rivals Braintree and Natick, the Rebels looked to pick up their first win against the Newton North Tigers on January 4, 2011.

The Rebels, who have been hampered by small stature and vast inexperience, proved to be no match for their more experienced opponents.  However, despite suffering their third straight loss, the young Rebels showed improvement on both sides of the ball, with their best all around performance of the season.

The first quarter was one which showcased the promising future of this underclassman-dominated team.  Walpole’s senior-less starting five got off to a hot start, staying with the Tiger offense every step of the way.  Juniors Adrianna Frattasio and Michaela Brown were assigned the difficult task of shutting down Newton North’s dynamic pick and roll tag team of senior guard Djaidah Wynn and junior forward Infiniti Thomas-Waheed.  Thomas-Waheed went back and fourth with Rebel junior center Shannon Cullen in the first five minutes of action.  Cullen and Thomas-Waheed repeatedly exchanged buckets to make the score 6-5 in favor of the Tigers.  Frattasio and sophomore Bridget Nicholson shared point guard responsibilities, both scoring and dishing out assists, although turning the ball over as well.  At the tail end of the quarter, Cullen stepped up her game on defense, effectively taking pressure off of the struggling Rebel offense.  After three consecutive Cullen blocks in the paint, the first quarter came to an end with the Rebels trailing 11-10.

Cullen and the Rebels continued to compete with the Tigers into the second quarter, as sophomore Lauren Bodin put the Rebels ahead 12-11 after two free throws.  After a quick North bucket, Cullen finished in the paint despite being fouled. With the addition of her free throw, the Rebels once again led by a score of 15-14.  This would be the last Rebel lead of the night, as the Tigers slowly began to pull away with a growing advantage.  Tiger guard Gracie Rolfe began to take over the game, burying back to back threes before the end of the second quarter.  At the end of the first half the Rebels trailed 22-17, despite a strong showing from Cullen, who led Walpole with eight points and a strong defensive presence.

While Cullen made her mark on the first half, the Tigers came out of the second half with the plan to shut down Cullen and to make the Rebel supporting cast beat them.  Cullen would not score another point in the second half as the Rebels began to fall behind.  Multiple turnovers and the tenacious Tiger defense sent the Rebels into a long scoring drought.  With five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Rebels trailed the Tigers 30-19, a deficit that would only grow from this point.  By the end of the third quarter, the game appeared to almost be out of reach as the Tigers led by a score of 41-26.

The Rebels fourth quarter offense was provided mainly be Nicholson, who took care of much of the Rebel ball-handling duties.  Behind Nicholson, the Rebels came out on the offensive, cutting the Tiger lead to 10.  This momentum proved to be short lived as Rolfe and Thomas-Waheed began to pick up offensive games.  Despite a 12 point performance from Nicholson, the Rebels lack of physicality and experience led to a 54-37 final score in favor of the Tigers.

Despite this disappointing loss, the Rebels have shown signs of improvement and will look for their first victory on Friday, January 7 against the Brookline Warriors.