O’Connor leads Shrewsbury girls basketball as Colonials clinch state playoff spot


O’Connor leads Shrewsbury girls basketball as Colonials clinch state playoff spot
Addison O’Connor (left) picks the defender to make space for Eliza Nickerson. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Colonials girls basketball team went 3-17 last season. This year, they’re set to compete in the state playoff tournament. 

The Colonials – who started the week likely, but not guaranteed, to have an opportunity in the postseason – officially punched their ticket to the tournament by defeating the Westford Academy Ghosts, 36-27, on Feb. 12 at Shrewsbury High School. 

Coming off three consecutive losses and needing just one more win to cement their spot in the playoffs, the Colonials started their penultimate regular-season game strong, jumping out to an early 14-4 first-quarter lead. Angelina Baldor and Ava O’Rourke both hit 3-point shots to harness the momentum, and Westford Academy’s offense couldn’t keep up. 

“You’ve got to set the tone. You get the other team having to exert a lot more energy early in the game, and it’s going to show up late in the game. It sends a message too – maybe they can’t come back. You get to them mentally,” Shrewsbury Head Coach Nate Skermont said.

But the Ghosts did what ghosts do best: they snuck up from behind and gave Shrewsbury a scare. Out of nowhere, Westford Academy was on the offensive, outscoring Shrewsbury 10-5 in the second quarter and countering the Colonials’ fast start. Alexa Coward – who made two 3-point shots – and Kaitlyn Pepin each tallied 8 points for the Ghosts.

While Westford Academy entered halftime with confidence, Shrewsbury would soon become ‘ghostbusters.’ The Colonials moved to man-to-man defense to solve the Ghosts’ offensive attack. Both teams added 5 points in the third quarter, but Shrewsbury pulled ahead in the final frame. 

The Colonials’ fourth-quarter dominance was fueled by freshman Addison O’Connor. O’Connor, Shrewsbury’s leading scorer, dropped 10 points in the fourth and scored 20 points total.

“It’s a lot of pressure – being a freshman. But, it’s a lot of fun. The girls are really good to play with, and it’s good to get the competition from higher players and playing with seniors and juniors and sophomores. It’s definitely a lot, but I love it,” O’Connor said after the game.

“She’s the Energizer Bunny. She’s got so much energy out there… It’s a situation where she rebounds extremely well, she’s a post presence, and she’s got a good mid-range. She’s only a freshman, so the sky’s the limit for her,” Skermont told the Community Advocate.

Amanda Kalinowski added 6 points for the Colonials.

After the team’s less-than-stellar record last year – which included a loss to Westford Academy – officially making the playoffs was especially meaningful for the Colonials.

“We wanted to get back to states. We didn’t make states last year, and we’ve more than tripled the win total from last year. That’s a testament to the locker room and the culture they’ve created this year. We’ve guaranteed ourselves an extra game here,” Skermont said.

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