Girls basketball: Renaissance holds off Smith Academy

Staff Writer 
Published: 1/9/2023 9:48:43 PM
Modified: 1/9/2023 9:45:38 PM

HATFIELD – After their first win of the season in their last game against Sci-Tech, the Smith Academy girls basketball team wanted to keep trending in the right direction against Renaissance on Monday night. 

Despite a strong effort, turnovers and small mistakes were the difference in a 47-37 loss to the Phoenix. Renaissance came out with a strong first period led by C’Niyah Hines and jumped out to a nine-point lead that the Falcons (1-5) weren’t able to catch up to.

“It's all those little things that win games. You’ve got to hit free throws, gotta hit layups. We had them on the ropes – it's hard to say that in a 10-point game, but we had them on the ropes,” Smith Academy co-head coach Dave Zononi said. “But we were two baskets away from putting the pressure right back on them.”

Hines finished the game with 18 points, leading the Phoenix offensively and also leading its press. Smith Academy struggled at first breaking through the Phoenix’s aggressive press, but improved as the game went on. It’s something they’ve had to contend with in nearly every game they’ve played this season.

“I feel like we don't end up running any of our set offenses because we're just adapting and adjusting to what the other team is putting out there,” co-head coach Allison Slysz said on the press.

“This was probably the first time we actually figured it out and were able to effectively adjust and beat it, which was nice to see,” Zononi added. 

Emma Moynihan led the Falcons with 14 points, followed by senior Chelsey Ghareeb with 10 and Alexa Jagodzinski with eight. There were moments when someone would hit a clutch basket and bring the gym and bench to their feet, but Renaissance was always able to respond quickly, either with a three-pointer or a steal and fast-break layup on the home team’s next possession. In the beginning of the third quarter, Smith Academy had issues with turning the ball over.

“In the beginning of the second half, we gave them five straight possessions on offense because we couldn't secure the ball and bring it up,” Slysz said. “And those five possessions mean everything in a 10-point games.”

Smith wasn’t able to close within eight points, keeping the game competitive but giving up too many opportunities to close the gap further. Renaissance stayed aggressive, getting in passing lanes and persisting with their effective press, and Smith Academy made just enough mistakes to let the game slip away. Despite the loss, coaches Zononi and Slysz are seeing the group improve each day, particularly when it comes to the team’s on-court chemistry. 

“That was one of our better efforts this year. We are still trying to find ourselves and I feel like we did that a little bit tonight, which was good,” Zononi said. “We’re young, and we're still trying to find rotations and chemistry. I think we found that a little bit tonight which is good for us and should bode well for us moving forward.” 

The Falcons will have a few days to practice and rest before they host Athol on Thursday at 7 p.m. 

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