NORTHBOROUGH – The Friday night matchup between Algonquin and Leominster had all the makings of an exciting girls basketball game.
The teams were evenly matched – each squad had seven wins – and with the playoffs looming, both were desperate to add to their 7-7 record and push themselves into, or closer to, qualifying for the upcoming state tournament. With high stakes and even competition, the matchup boiled down to one question: Who wanted it more?
The question was answered right away: Leominster.
The Leominster Blue Devils dominated from start to finish on Friday, defeating the playoff-hopeful Algonquin Titans to the tune of 49-35. The feisty, high-energy Blue Devils held a 10-plus-point margin over the home-team Titans for nearly the entire game.
“Leominster wanted it more than us tonight. They were aggressive, diving on the floor… We know what we’re capable of, and we didn’t meet our expectations,” Algonquin Head Coach Kashawn Hampton told the Community Advocate.
The shots weren’t falling for Algonquin, allowing Leominster to pull ahead early. The Titans also missed several rebounds, giving the Blue Devils costly second- and third-chance opportunities. Leominster’s Juliana Pompei registered 13 points, while teammates Jayda Caldwell and Francesca Bello each added 9. Kyra Forsberg tacked on two three-point makes.
Though Leominster led throughout the game, the Titans never quit. Sophie Hjerpe led Algonquin with 11 points, including going 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. Lilly Morse had 10 points, and Ashlee Dameri added 6.
“We’re athletic, we’re strong. We can compete when we want to compete, but we can’t beat ourselves. That’s what happened tonight – we beat ourselves. Down the stretch we have to capitalize on these games. These are games we need to win,” Hampton said.
The Titans won’t have to wait long to exact revenge against the Blue Devils. Algonquin and Leominster will play again on Tuesday.
And while Hampton hopes the team performs better in the rematch against Leominster, the first-year coach is also encouraged by the growth he’s seen from this young Algonquin squad this year. This season is a learning experience, he said.
“The girls have been great. The administration has been great. The atmosphere has been good. [The girls] are getting used to a new system, they’re getting used to my style, philosophy… They’re adjusting well. My team is going to continue to grow,” he said.