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March 2, 2011

Wildcats down Hurricanes, head to quarterfinals

The Whittier girls basketball team has relied on their half-, mid- and full-court press all season to force turnovers, which create easy offensive opportunities for the now 15-6 Wildcats.

It worked again — this time to the tune of forcing 42 turnovers in a 72-36 rout of Notre Dame of Lawrence.

"We just weren't ready," said Hurricanes head coach Ushearnda Reynolds about Whittier's press. "It was unstoppable. They just put it on us. They knew what to do."

Whittier jumped out to a 15-2 early lead, but a 7-2 Hurricanes run at the end of the first kept the game close early. A sloppy, back-and-forth second quarter made the score 34-20 at the break.

"I told them to put the pedal to the medal," said coach Kevin Bradley about his halftime speech. "We just needed to put someone away."

The message seemed to resonate. Whittier began the second frame on a 9-0 run that effectively put the game out of reach for the No. 11 Hurricanes, including a stretch where Whittier forced turnovers on four consecutive possessions early in the third.

"We didn't move the ball effectively," Reynolds said. "And we didn't press through it."

The Wildcats had four players score in double figures, led by senior forward Danielle Martin's 16. Junior guard Kendra Brasil added 13 points, and guards Christina Medley and Kaisha Rodriguez chipped in 12 each, rounding out the team's balanced offensive attack.

"If we can get into our rhythm, if we can get running, we're unbeatable," Bradley said.

Whittier will face No. 14 seed Matignon, the team that beat the Wildcats in last season's quarterfinal matchup, at home on Friday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Matignon dominated No. 3 Greater Lowell 59-35 on Monday night, showcasing the strength of the Catholic Central conference.

"They're not a 14 seed," Bradley said.

Bradley said the focus will be on perimeter defense against the Warriors.

"They've got some shooters," he said. "If we can contain them, we'll be all right."

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