Olivia Mathieu nets 18, but Hopkins falls to Mahar
Olivia Mathieu of Hopkins Academy, left, drives to the basket against Allyson Parker of Mahar Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
McKenzie Sullivan of Hopkins Academy, center, moves the ball while defended by Cassie Verheyen of Mahar Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Nicole Morrison of Hopkins Academy, center, gets tangled up with Natashia Patria of Mahar, right, while going for a rebound Friday at Hopkins. Cassie Verheyen of Mahar looks on. Purchase photo reprints »
Madi Stevens of Hopkins Academy, left, eyes the basket after grabbing a rebound Friday at Hopkins. Natashia Patria of Mahar looks on. Purchase photo reprints »
Olivia Mathieu of Hopkins Academy, right, moves the ball against Allyson Parker of Mahar Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Olivia Mathieu of Hopkins Academy, center, shoots against Cassie Verheyen of Mahar, left, Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Olivia Mathieu of Hopkins Academy, top, shoots against Mahar Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Nicole Morrison of Hopkins Academy, center, grabs a rebound between Mahar defenders Allyson Parker, left, and Kianna Whitmore Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Kate Sullivan of Hopkins Academy shoots against Mahar Friday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
HADLEY — One month after resuming competitive basketball activities, Hopkins Academy’s Olivia Mathieu is starting to feel like her old self.
Wearing a brace on her left knee, the Golden Hawks senior guard scored a season-high 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Mahar Regional 56-50 at home Friday night.
“I’m feeling alright,” Mathieu said. “I’m getting back into the swing of things. The first few games were definitely a little weird, but I’m definitely gaining confidence as times goes on. I have to keep in mind that I’m just getting back into it and it’s been one month of competitive play.”
Mathieu had surgery to repair a torn ACL at the beginning of April after suffering the injury during last year’s postseason. Mathieu missed all of soccer season with the injury. She was cleared for full basketball action on Nov. 27 and has been slowly improving each day. She felt Friday was by far her best performance for the Golden Hawks (4-2, 4-1 Franklin South) so far this season.
“I was definitely a lot more confident when taking it to the hoop. I hadn’t been driving a lot and shooting that much,” said Mathieu, who finished with three assists and three steals to go with her game-high scoring output. “Today, it definitely felt like I stepped up my game. I just have to work on finishing. I was not finishing. Part of that was mental, that split second where I’m going to put the ball up I’m feeling like someone is going to take me out.”
Mathieu scored 14 points in the season opener against Belchertown and then had between eight and 11 points in each of the next four games heading into Friday.
“This was by far her best game driving to the hole and getting to a position where she could create some shots for herself,” coach Fred Ciaglo said. “She didn’t finish, but that will come. She did a nice job tonight. They all did. They played hard. They always play hard.”
Hopkins controlled play through much the contest, but the Senators (4-2, 4-1 Franklin North) got hot from the outside and controlled the glass in the fourth quarter. They trailed 38-29 going into the frame, but outscored the Golden Hawks 27-12 over the final eight minutes.
“We were starting to get tired and I could just see it happening,” Ciaglo said. “We were laxing in our zone. We got tired and we were standing around. We weren’t boxing out. They killed us on the boards in the fourth quarter and they were making their 3s. I couldn’t go man. They would have gone by us with how tired we were.”
Mahar made four 3-pointers in the frame, including two by Natashia Patria, who had seven of her 11 points in the fourth. Jill Valley led the Senators with 13 points, while Jenelle Juskiewicz added 12.
“We broke down. I think we all got tired,” Mathieu said. “We have to keep pushing and instead we sat back on our heels. It’s a lesson that we learned tonight. They are a good team, so that’s what’s going to happen if we do that.”
Hopkins sophomore Kate Sullivan scored seven straight points to open the second quarter and put her squad in control 15-9 early. Mathieu then tacked on two more baskets to push the advantage to 19-9 midway through the frame.
An 11-point halftime lead moved to 14 on a Mackenzie Sullivan fast-break layup with 5:22 left in the third quarter and Hopkins still led 38-27 with 58 seconds left in the frame.
But it was all Mahar from there.
Myra Johnson scored on an offensive rebound before the end of the quarter and freshman Allyson Parker knocked down a 3-pointer to open the fourth.
Juskiewicz then scored four straight points to make it a two-point game with 6:11 remaining.
The teams traded baskets until a Patria 3-pointer from the left wing gave her team a 49-47 lead with 1:55 left. The Senators never trailed again.
Kate Sullivan finished with 13 points, while Mackenzie Sullivan added 12 points and nine rebounds. Nicole Morrison contributed eight rebounds.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Hopkins.
“I thought we played a great game for three quarters. We really played our game,” Ciaglo said. “Then we missed some good opportunities. We had five or six shots within five feet that we missed in a row. That really changed the game. If you drop a couple of those, the momentum doesn’t shift so dramatically to their side and then maybe we make a run back at them.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at email@example.com.