By Steev Riccardo
DUDLEY – It was a fine homecoming (sort of) for Gigi Guenther as she led the Holy Name Naps past the Shepherd Hill Rams 46-22 with 17 points and eight rebounds on Thursday night at Shepherd Hill.
Guenther, who grew up in Webster and attended St Ann’s School, came off the bench and played superb basketball in front a large crowd that included many of her family and friends. In fact some of those “friends” happened to be wearing maroon and gold uniforms and were on the other side of the court.
The Rams looked like they were going to make a statement early, opening a 6-0 lead spearheaded by a 3-pointer by senior co-captain Taylor Daniels, who has been playing some great basketball lately. They led most of the first quarter despite five quick points from Guenther, who came in the game at the 4:26 mark and immediately made an impact and helped the Naps sneak away with a 12-11 lead.
The second quarter was all Holy Name as they outscored the Rams 12-2 with only a Daniels basket with 25 seconds left, saving them from being shutout. A close game was suddenly an 11-point Naps lead at the half.
There was little offense by either team in the third quarter with the Naps edging the Rams 7-5 and holding on to a 31-18 lead heading into the final quarter.
Guenther scored 10 of the Naps 15 fourth quarter points as her team shut down the Rams’ offense and handed them only their second loss of the season.
“Looking at the score we held them to 46 points and at that same time we are not used to that kind of defensive intensity and we had our shots; we just didn’t hit them and they controlled their defensive boards so a lot of times we came down court and it was one and done,” said Rams coach Jim Hackenson.
“If we hit a couple of shots we were in the game. Our defense was good but we have to work on our offense. We need to pick up the intensity against better teams. This was a good barometer for us, we can play with them but we couldn’t win. I am not disappointed in our defense at all, but I can’t remember the last time we scored only 22 points.”
Prior to this loss, the Rams hadn’t scored less than 50 points in a game all season. That was a bit of surprise, but also a nod to the Naps for holding them down.
“In the beginning of the game we wanted to play good team defense against them and we all defended the ball and it really worked out,” said Guenther. “I have had those games when I can’t get anything to go in and that’s probably what happened to them; they will get it back.”
As far as playing against some of her closest friends, Guenther said, “On the court we say ‘hi how are you doing,’ it’s fun, I like seeing them. I don’t see them a lot.”
Speaking of seeing her friends, Guenther said she enjoyed playing in Dudley because a lot of her family and friends got to see her play. When asked how many of them were there, she smiled and said “all of them.”
One of her friends, Daniels, had 12 points and played tough defense all night long for the Rams, who dropped to a 8-2 on the season.
“It was a sloppy overall game. We fell apart as a team and we weren't running out our plays on offense,” said Daniels. “Our shots just weren't dropping. Every team is going to have an off game; unfortunately this happened to be ours. We'll be prepared for the rematch.”
The two teams meet again on Monday, February 11, at Holy Name.
The Shepherd Hill junior varsity took the preliminary 39-30 behind Micaela Rice’s 13 points.
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