WESTBOROUGH – Annabelle Semeter inspired generations of Westborough Rangers Friday night.
With dozens of Westborough youth basketball players in the stands – who attended the game to celebrate the Rangers’ “Youth Night” – Semeter dropped 32 points in the face of the Marlborough Panthers, an undefeated Central Massachusetts rival that had won seven straight coming into Friday’s action.
All in all, Semeter scored roughly 50 percent of her team’s points, and the Rangers won 68-53.
“I recently refound my love for basketball, and my goal for this season is just to go out there and have fun,” Semeter told reporters after the game. “I’m trying to not let pressure get to me this season, so I’m just going out there, having fun, and my teammates make that really easy. We’re all just working together.”
Semeter also said her career-best performance – which also included six rebounds and six steals – was aided by the Panera’s Charged Lemonade she drank prior to the game. The caffeine-infused drink gave Semeter an early boost: the Rangers led 19-7 after one quarter of action, and Semeter accounted for 17 of the team’s points.
“She just went out there tonight – I was really proud of her. She also had some great assists… She was a team player while scoring 32 points,” Westborough Head Coach Erin Studivan said, amazed by Semeter’s performance.
And although the Panthers tried different approaches to stop Semeter, Westborough had other offensive contributors. Rachel Carpenter, the Rangers’ reliable sharpshooter, added 21 points, going 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, and hitting three 3-point shots. Westborough led by 18 going into halftime.
“I haven’t seen shooting like that in a long time. They came out on fire. They outran us – they outplayed us – in that first half,” Marlborough Head Coach Frank Greene said.
Though Westborough entered the second half with a formidable lead, the Marlborough Panthers, led by sophomore sensation Bella Miele and senior captain Meghan Deneen, are always capable of scoring – and quickly. The Panthers came out hot after halftime, outscoring Westborough 17-11 in the third quarter and bringing the Rangers’ lead to single digits at times. Miele scored 26 in this contest, while Deneen added 13.
“That’s who we are… We had to dig ourselves out of that big hole we just made for ourselves, but I know we can play fast and score some points,” Greene said, noting the Panthers’ improved offensive output.
Yet, the hole proved too deep for Marlborough to escape. Westborough erased any thought of an improbable Panther comeback with another dominant performance in the fourth quarter. Marlborough had “pushed [them] hard,” Semeter said, but Westborough had effectively “pushed back.”
While Marlborough falls to 7-1, Westborough improves to 4-4 and remains undefeated in Mid-Wach-B league action. The team has had ups and downs over recent weeks, but Semeter indicated the team was in an excellent place, communicating well and ready to tackle the rest of the season.
“During practice, we’ve been working on plays more. We want to work on moving the ball. Our coaches have created a great environment for communication among players and coaches, so we’ve been able to talk about what has been going on during our timeouts… Our locker rooms are always fun, we pump each other up with music, we’re doing each other’s hair,” she said.
As for the team’s “Youth Night,” the young athletes helped introduce the varsity starters, participated in the “Chuck A Duck” halftime tradition, witnessed an upset win, and snacked on pounds of candy that was available for purchase.
A pretty good night for Westborough, all things considered.