BY GENE DELORENZO
BRANDON — In one of the more entertaining county games in many years, the Phantom Proctor girls ran their record to an impressive 14-1 with a solid 57-42 win over their neighbors to the north, Otter Valley Union High School, on Wednesday night, February 16. Proctor was led once again by senior Maggie McKearin, who poured in 24 in the victory. She was ably supported by Meghan Cole with 17 points.
For OV, Alice Keith led the way with 17 points before succumbing to an injury and exhaustion late in the contest. The game was played in an emotionally charged atmosphere in Buggiani Gym at Proctor High School. The place was packed well before tip-off and the addition of the two students’ sections behind each teams’ bench added more color and noise to the friendly confines of Buggiani. It was loud!
Proctor set the tone early with a McKearin layup and a three by Cole. Otter Valley responded with a three-pointer by Anna Lee. Two more hoops by Cole would push the lead to seven at 10-3 with 4:35 remaining in the quarter. The action was fast and furious and the student sections were filling up with people and more noise as the quarter progressed.
For possible opponents in the state tourney in a few weeks, the noise signified a message of “ beware” to play either of these teams in their home gym in any possible tourney action. It is definitely a sixth-player advantage for either of these clubs. Alice Keith’s 8 points led OV in the quarter while McKearin and Cole were a two-person wrecking crew for the visitors.
Second quarter action saw Proctor’s intense defensive pressure force seven OV turnovers as the Phantoms opened up their lead to 10 points at the halftime break, 33-23. Despite treys by Lee and Politano for OV, Proctor’s outstanding backcourt duo of Isabel Greb and Maggie McKearin created havoc for the homesteaders with their quickness and deft scoring.
In the third quarter, Coach Ray Counter of Otter Valley came out with a solid player-to-player approach that completely stymied the Phantoms. OV held the Proctor squad scoreless for 12 possessions encompassing 6:53. Unfortunately for OV, their great defense only held Proctor at bay while the OV offense struggled mightily to score.
A conventional three-point play by Keith cut the lead to four at 33-29 with 1:09 to play in the quarter. Then, Meghan Cole hit the hoop of the night, breaking the scoreless string for Proctor. Her three-pointer off the glass pushed the lead back to seven at 36-29 and quelled the OV momentum that had the “House of Noise” erupting. McKearin hit two free throws with four seconds remaining and the Proctor lead was seven at 38-31 entering the fourth quarter.
Proctor’s overall team balance took over in the fourth quarter as McKearin, Greb, Cole and Laci French all contributed to the attack to put up 19 points in the stanza. OV faded as first Lee, then Keith moved to the bench with injuries and exhaustion from trying to keep up with the Phantom pressure. OV could only generate nine points in the quarter leading to the eventual 57-42 score.
McKearin’s 24 led the way for the Phantoms, while Cole added 17 and Greb had 11 along with other scorers. It was a ferocious attack – a great advertisement for the up-tempo style of play that Coach McKearin infuses into his program.
Alice Keith led the Otters with 17 and Anna Lee had 9, Brittany Jackson chipped in four, Ryleigh LaPorte and Emily Politano each scored three, while Emily Peduto, Sierra Cormany and JoAnna Ray pitched in with two apiece. Otter Valley fell to 10-9 with the loss.