Frontier pushes Raiders to limit in 41-30 defeat

  • Frontier's Olivia Riordan (23) throws up an awkward runner in the lane Monday night at Mallet Gym in Athol, where her visiting Red Hawks fell to the host Red Raiders, 41-30, in their WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament opener.<br/>Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

    Frontier's Olivia Riordan (23) throws up an awkward runner in the lane Monday night at Mallet Gym in Athol, where her visiting Red Hawks fell to the host Red Raiders, 41-30, in their WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament opener.
    Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

  • Athol's Nicole Guerin (10) launches a shot in the lane over Frontier's Amanda Calvo (11) during second-quarter action of a 41-30 Athol win Monday night in WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament play at Mallet Gym in Athol.<br/>Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

    Athol's Nicole Guerin (10) launches a shot in the lane over Frontier's Amanda Calvo (11) during second-quarter action of a 41-30 Athol win Monday night in WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament play at Mallet Gym in Athol.
    Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts

  • Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.5 Lindsey Hamlett, launches up a 3 point shot from the top of the key over Frontier's No.15 Olivia McCulloch in the 2nd Qtr.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts

    Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.5 Lindsey Hamlett, launches up a 3 point shot from the top of the key over Frontier's No.15 Olivia McCulloch in the 2nd Qtr.
    photo by J. Anthony Roberts

  • Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.4 Molly Cleveland, takes it up strong to the hoop past Frontier's No.11 Amanda Calvo in the 2nd Qtr.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts

    Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.4 Molly Cleveland, takes it up strong to the hoop past Frontier's No.11 Amanda Calvo in the 2nd Qtr.
    photo by J. Anthony Roberts

  • Frontier's Olivia Riordan (23) throws up an awkward runner in the lane Monday night at Mallet Gym in Athol, where her visiting Red Hawks fell to the host Red Raiders, 41-30, in their WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament opener.<br/>Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts
  • Athol's Nicole Guerin (10) launches a shot in the lane over Frontier's Amanda Calvo (11) during second-quarter action of a 41-30 Athol win Monday night in WMass Division III Girls' Basketball Tournament play at Mallet Gym in Athol.<br/>Recorder/J. Anthony Roberts
  • Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.5 Lindsey Hamlett, launches up a 3 point shot from the top of the key over Frontier's No.15 Olivia McCulloch in the 2nd Qtr.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts
  • Athol 2/24/14. Athol's No.4 Molly Cleveland, takes it up strong to the hoop past Frontier's No.11 Amanda Calvo in the 2nd Qtr.<br/>photo by J. Anthony Roberts

ATHOL — The Red Raiders had the scare of their season Monday night, but lived to see another day.

Franklin County League North foes Athol High School and Frontier Regional School met for the third time of the season, this time in the Western Massachusetts Division III Girls’ Basketball Tournament, and it was a defensive battle from the start, with Athol finally pulling away in the third and fourth quarters to take a hard-earned, 41-30 victory.

The game got off to a rocky start for Athol, which was unable to put the ball in the basket until there was 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Fortunately for the Red Raiders, they had only allowed 5 points of their own up to that point, a trey by Red Hawks sharpshooter Amanda Calvo and a deuce by Olivia Riordan. The period ended with Frontier halding a 7-6 advantage and Athol having its lowest point total in a quarter this season.

“It wasn’t pretty,” said Athol head coach Dan Bevis. “But as I told the girls there are no style points once you get to tournament time. It’s all about getting the win, whatever it takes.”

The second quarter played out a lot like the first, with only 11 points of combined scoring, and the score was knotted at 12 going to the locker room. Bevis could not remember a lower scoring half for his team during his tenure, but he didn’t panic, and had a message for his team at the half.

“ I don’t know if we’ve ever had such a terrible offensive half, but you’ve got to give Frontier credit. They’re a very tough team, it as a very tough matchup, and we knew that going in. We challenged our team at halftime to play smarter and play harder, and they responded.” commented Bevis.

After briefly trailing 14-12 to start the third quarter, the Raiders put together an 11-0 run, with the first 6 points coming on free throws, the result of aggressive scoring chances in the paint. Tanner Favreau also found her shooting touch during that stretch, dropping in the lone 3-pointer of the night for Athol, and following that up with a quick steal and an easy layup for 2, putting Athol up 23-14..

Frontier scratched and clawed to stay in the game, and got as close as a 5-point deficit at 35-30, with 1:05 remaining in the game, but the Red hawks did not find the net again and Athol made six of eight foul shouts down the stretch to secure the double-digit win.

“We just couldn’t get a lot going offensively,” said Frontier head coach Frank Keimig. “They played Calvo extremely tight, and just like all season, we struggled to score when Amanda couldn’t get free.

Bevis concurred, saying, “We knew Calvo was the one player who could get red-hot for them, she put up 30 against Mahar a while back, and I thought Kiki Guerin and Tanner did a great job shutting her down.”

Calvo finished the night with just 8 points, including two 3-pointers, after dropping in 17 treys over her previous five games.

At first glance, this contest appeared to favor Athol heavily, given that the Red Raiders entered the night with the tournament’s No.5 seed, an 18-2 overall record, and went 8-0 in league play. Contrast that with Frontier — which ended the regular with an overall record of just 8-11 and only qualified by virtue of a tie for second place in the FCLN with Mahar Regional at 4-4 — and it had all the makings of a mismatch.

Looking a little deeper, it’s no surprise that Monday’s game was a close one, at least for a time. Frontier had played the Raiders extremely tough in the previous meetings, losing by only 2 at Goodnow Gymnasium in South Deerfield on February 10, and by just 4 three days later in Athol.

The Red Raiders were not to be denied, however, and did what they had to do to move on in the tournament.

“Winning ugly is a heck of a lot better than losing pretty,” reflected Bevis. “Now we set our sights on Thursday night and we’re going to have to be ready to grind it out again.”

Molly Cleveland, who also was all over the floor on defense, led the Raiders with 16 points. Favreau tossed in 9. Riordan led Frontier with 13 points.

Athol will visit No. 4 seed South Hadley High School Thursday at 7 p.m.

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