Maya Kerstetter leads Northampton girls hoop victory over Chicopee
NORTHAMPTON — Maya Kerstetter was pleased to score a career-high 21 points Tuesday night.
But she was far more happy with her point differential against Chicopee standout Brittany Taylor.
The junior limited the Pacers’ guard to seven points — roughly half her average entering the game — as the Blue Devils earned a 55-42 win at home.
“I just like trying to hold my player to as few points as I can,” said Kerstetter, who finished with seven rebounds and two steals. “If my offense works, then perfect, but I’m more focused on beating them on defense.”
The scoring output was the second time in three games that Kerstetter set a personal best. She scored 18 in a 49-40 win over Agawam on Jan. 8.
“I can’t say I’ve been shooting that well, but (junior point guard) Anna (Walther) has been getting me good looks under the basket,” said Kerstetter, whose team improved to 8-2. “I’ve been getting a lot of little bunnies. There have been a lot of good passes and I’ve been in the right place to get them.”
Walther finished with 16 points and eight assists. Junior center Anna Moore added 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Kerstetter spent the entire game chasing after Taylor, who is one of many Pacers the Blue Devils players know well.
“We’ve played with a lot of them during AAU and during the fall leagues, we play either with them or against them, so we’ve known a lot of them for a really, really long time,” she said. “You have to stay focused. You don’t want to lose your focus just because you are playing against your friends. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
Kerstetter, who is always tasked with defending one of the opposing team’s top scorers, said she enjoys the responsibility.
“I like playing players that will challenge me, especially when I know them personally,” she said. Taylor “is a really good player and it was fun to play her.”
Northampton coach Perry Messer was pleased with her performance.
“That’s what a leader and one of your better players is supposed to do,” Messer said. “She did a really nice job for us.”
Chicopee was led by Amira Jones with eight points. Raven Fournier and Taylor each added seven.
After opening the year 5-1, the Pacers suffered their second straight loss to a Valley Wheel team. They fell to West Springfield 50-46 at home Friday.
Northampton, meanwhile, has won five in a row and Tuesday’s scoring output was its second most of the season.
The Blue Devils led 21-20 at halftime, but the third quarter spark that has become a calling card for this year’s squad put the team in control for good.
“We went down at halftime and I told them it was 100 percent just about effort,” Messer said. “You have to give (Chicopee) credit. They have good shooters and ball handlers, but nobody really wanted to get down in a stance, buckle down and do what they are supposed to do” in the first half.
He added, “We didn’t rebound. We didn’t get tough down there and play. I thought Anna Moore really responded in the second half. She cleaned up the boards, blocked some shots and played really well.”
The Blue Devils scored 19 points in the third — including six from Kersetter and five from Walther, who also had four assists in the quarter — to take a 40-31 lead into the fourth.
The Pacers cut the deficit to 42-37 with 5:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Kerstetter drew a foul and made both shots to extend the lead to seven. On the next possession, she knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:25 left to put the game out of reach.
“They are a really good team and it was nice to be able to keep our confidence and pull away at the end,” Kerstetter said.
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at email@example.com.