Down 31-27 at the half to the Matignon Warriors, the team that ousted the Wildcats in last season's quarterfinals, Whittier head coach Kevin Bradley had one simple message to his team.
Contain Matignon guard Courtney Anderson. Anderson, a 5-5 senior guard, had 19 points and four threes in the first half to lead the Warriors offense to the four-point edge.
Bradley's answer? Jenn Hinds.
Hinds held Anderson to just 11 points the rest of the way, leading the Wildcats to a 65-57 statement win.
"Jenn can shut down anyone in the state," Bradley said, adding that he told his team that the basketball gods wouldn't let Anderson continue her torrid first-half shooting. "I'll put her on anybody."
Hinds, a 5-8 forward, said Bradley's message came through loudly and clearly at the break.
"Just sticking with (Anderson)," she said. "I hustled, stayed in front of her."
Hinds does the dirty work for the Wildcats, consistently guarding the opposing team's best scorer and fighting for position on the interior.
"We rely on her a lot to get under the boards," said Christina Medley, the team's most explosive offensive player.
Medley, who routinely hits 23-footers in warmups, again paced the team's offense, pouring in a season-high 26 points on 10-26 shooting. The 5-9 junior made four threes, including one with 2:23 left in the third to give the Wildcats a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"One of the smoothest shooters in the state," Bradley said about his starting guard, adding that colleges are calling frequently asking about Medley's summer basketball plans.
"Who isn't?" he asked about which schools were calling to inquire about the junior shooter.
Whittier, now 16-6, will face the No. 2 seed, 18-3 Fenway Panthers of the Boston City-North conference next week. Bradley said the matchup will feature a run-and-gun, up-and-down tempo.
"Put your track shoes on," he said.
After the victory, Hinds, one of four Whittier seniors, said the feeling was bittersweet as she watched Bradley cut down the net.
"My last home game, but we get to play at least one more," she said. "It's awesome. I can't even express it."
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