LAWRENCE — To say they were on a roll is an understatement., THE BROADCASTER Body:
In the process, the Raiders (15-4 overall, 11-1 MVC) vaulted to the top of the MVC, a half game ahead of both Lowell and Andover. Central finished its regular-season schedule at Andover this week. A Central win would clinch the league title, while a loss would leave Central, Lowell and Andover tied with 11-2 records.
Central had not lost a game since Jan. 7 when it lost to Arlington Catholic, 60-50. Central netted its revenge against the Cougars by coming out on top of a 76-64 overtime thriller on Feb. 4.
“We preached long ago that defense, foul shots and layups are what wins tight games,” Central coach Sue Downer said after defeating Arlington Catholic. “Our foul shooting was phenomenal in the last part of the game. I think we maintained our composure and I think our leadership came out. Whenever you win in overtime it’s a great win.”
Free throws was definitely a key part of the Raiders victory over the Cougars with junior forward Riley Dunn going 8-for-8 from the line in overtime.
Downer had found out right before the game that Lowell had beaten Andover 51-49 earlier in the day and that left the Raiders alone atop the MVC.
“I think if you asked me preseason or asked me three, four weeks ago if that’s where we’d be, I don’t know that I would have said that,” Downer said. “But really the kids have really just come together. They work so hard and again kids off the bench are helping us. Everybody is doing something positive and this is when you hope your team comes together. I don’t know what else to say, it’s good.”
Led by senior co-captains Melissa Lucas and Kaylyn Grange, the Raiders know how important each game is.
“We’re in the tournament and we’re number one in the MVC now, but these wins are all about tournament status,” Lucas said after the Arlington Catholic game. “We needed revenge. We got the revenge on Lowell, we got the revenge on Andover; we needed the revenge on Arlington Catholic.”
Grange said hearing Lowell beat Andover before the game, gave the Raiders momentum.
“I heard that before we played and that was a little more incentive to win,” Grange said. “It feels good (being in first place).”
Even though the Raiders are in first place, the pressure to beat Andover on their court in the final regular season game does not go away.
“We have to beat Haverhill first,” Lucas said. “But Andover, we have to win. We’ve never beaten them on their court. Never, in the 10 years (Coach) Downer has been here.”
Grange shares her teammate’s thoughts.
“We need to do it,” Grange said. “It’s never been done, so there’s no question. We need to do it.”
Lucas and Grange have a combined 203 points over the last two weeks and continue to be a threat on the court. Freshman Katie Zenevitch has added 111 points herself.
She said the team is winning because of the communication they have on the court.
“We definitely have been opening our mouths more and talking to each other out there,” Zenevitch said after the Lowell game. “That’s the most important thing, talking to each other.”