Westport sinks Ayer Shirley 62-47, advances to Elite 8

Story by Richard W. Dionne, Jr. Photos by Julie Furtado
Posted 3/8/23

Captains Sarah Perry, Leah Sylvain and Korynne Holden combined for 42 points as the Westport girls basketball team beat Ayer Shirley 62-47 in the Sweet 16 at the high school gymnasium on Tuesday …

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Westport sinks Ayer Shirley 62-47, advances to Elite 8


Captains Sarah Perry, Leah Sylvain and Korynne Holden combined for 42 points as the Westport girls basketball team beat Ayer Shirley 62-47 in the Sweet 16 at the high school gymnasium on Tuesday night. The 6 seed Wildcats now advance to play at 3 seed Sutton in the Elite 8 on Friday at 5 p.m. 

“It’s just so exciting for the team,” said head coach Jen Gargiulo. “They have worked so hard all season and I am just so proud of them.” 

“It feels amazing,” said Sylvain. “Our bigs were a lot more consistent tonight. They had a lot of looks and they kept finishing.”

Perry scored a game high 16 points and Sylvain and Holden each netted 13. Jenna Egbe and Julia George each scored 7 points and Meghan Molloy added 6. 

“It was fiery,” said Perry of the game. “Aggressive, I’m glad that we came out on top.”

“It was a lot tougher than last game,” said Sylvain. “We knew they were really small, but really quick. We used our bigs to our advantage. We knew that we had to close out because we knew that they could shoot.”

Holden heats up in the first quarter

“We had nerves in the beginning,” said Holden. “It kind of showed.”

Like their last game, the Wildcats nerves showed as they started slow in the first quarter. But not Holden who has nerves of steel.  The junior started the game hot and scored 5 points. Molloy added a jumper and got to the line twice, making two of four from the line. Sylvain also got to the line and made a pair of free throws as the  first quarter ended in an 11-11 tie.

“Once we got over the nerves, we had great chemistry and worked great as a team," Holden said. "The fans helped give us momentum and made it a great environment to play in.” 

Sylvain nuked up in the second quarter, drained a pair of 3-pointers and drove the lane for another basket for 8 of her 13 points. 

“Leah took control when we needed it,” said Coach Gargiulo. 

Perry sank a pair put backs from underneath and made two foul shots. Molloy and Holden each added baskets as Westport scored 18 points to take  a 29-19 lead at halftime. 

“We just kept scoring and shut them down,” Holden said. 

Holden added 6 more points in the third quarter. Julia George added a jumper and a free throw and Perry and Egbe each added baskets as Westport led 42-35 after three. 

Westport out scored Ayer Shirley 20-11 in the final quarter.  Perry caught fire in the fourth and scored 8 of her 16 points from underneath the hoop. 

“My opponents around me were a mismatch and I used that to my advantage,” she said.

“Sarah came up big,” said Coach Gargiulo. “She had some excellent drop steps and rebounds.”

Egbe netted 5, George added a bucket and a free throw and Sylvain added a jumper and a free throw. 

Wildcats dominate the boards 

“Ayer Shirley is a tough team,” said Coach Gargiulo. “We knew that they were quick and have some skilled athletes on their team. We knew that we had an advantage in the inside and our forwards took advantage of that.”

Perry and Egbe, the Wildcats’ six foot center, dominated on the boards by taking advantage of the smaller Panther’s lineup. “Jenna was a big presence under the basket,” said Holden “She stepped up for us in a really big way. They were getting rebounds and put backs.”

Perry grabbed 12 of the Wildcats 34 rebounds. The junior also had a steal and a blocked shot. Egbe grabbed 7 rebounds and Molloy added 6. Westport made 9 steals as a team. Julia George, a sophomore, managed two rebounds a steal and a pair of blocked shots. 

“We watched film on them, then arranged our defense in a way that we needed to and obviously it was successful,” said Sylvain. 

“It was a team win,” said Coach Gargiulo. “It was our team defense working together that translates into success. I’m just really proud of the effort they put in. They never gave up.”

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