MEDFORD – Just a quick check of the scoreboard throughout the course of the season reveals there is no secret why the Winslow Township High School girls basketball has been able to pile up so many wins.
“Our strength has been our defense,” Jalisa Pitts said. “We’ve been holding teams under 30 points all season.”
The Eagles missed that marker by one basket on Tuesday night, but they still held Shawnee in check throughout the night. They won their 15th straight game with a 41-31 victory over the Renegades.
It was the second win of the season for Winslow over Shawnee and it clinched at least a tie for the Olympic Patriot Division title for the Eagles.
While Shawnee surpassed the 30-point mark on Tuesday, Pitts was basically correct. Of the 19 games Winslow has played this season, they held their opponents under 30 points 11 times, including a stretch of a 10 in a row.
“We’re just playing well,” said coach Dan McGettigan. “We’re playing well together. Tonight I thought we were a little sloppy, but Shawnee can make you do that. They’re a tough bunch of kids and they’re a scrappy team. They get after you.”
The Renegades finished game with only one double-figure scorer, Sierra Sanson, who scored 14 points.
In return, Brittany Garner led the way against Shawnee with 11 points, while Mikayla Cohen and Pitts added 10 each. That trio, got some late help from, Jania Pitts with five free throws in the fourth quarter to stop a comeback bid for Shawnee.
The Eagles have all the elements it takes to play good team defense – quick, athletic guards and forwards, along with a force in the middle in the 6-foot-3 Garner.
The Renegades were held to 25 points the last time the two teams met so Shawnee coach Chrissy McGovern knew what her squad was up against.
“For us, they’re a tough matchup,” she said. “They’re big, they got this transfer (Garner) in and she’s a game-changer. They sit in their zone and they slow you down. I think for us, we struggled to attack her inside. They disrupted what we would normally do offensively.”
However, Winslow is far from a one-person team. The Eagles move the ball well, set up good shots, and they’re able to withstand defensive pressure thrown against them.
Cohen says the team has grown a lot since getting off to a 2-2 start to begin the season.
“All the work that we’ve put in at practice takes an effect,” she said. “We’re always talking to each other – communicating with each other – and we believe in each other.
“I think we can go pretty far if we keep our heads in the game, and play together – just stay strong.”
For the most part, the Eagles had control of the game after getting off to an 11-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. During the quarter, the defense limited Shawnee to one 3-point goal from Ciana Vicarelli.
The Eagles extended the margin to 22-12 by the half as Cohen and Pitts had combined for 15 points at that point, and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Shawnee got onto a bit of a roll.
Sanson and Erica Barr threw in two free throws each as Shawnee got the deficit down 32-26 early in the quarter.
But then Najee Seabrook and Garner scored back-to-back baskets to reopen a 10-point lead.
Soon after that, Garner went to the bench for a couple of minutes with foul trouble and it looked like Shawnee might have a chance at a strong finish.
But Jania Pitts’ free throws kept the Eagles on top throughout the closing minutes.
“They kids persevered,” McGettigan said. “And they got through.”
Winslow Twp. 11 11 10 10-41
Shawnee 3 9 10 9-31
WT: Jania Pitts 5, Najee Seabrook 2, Mikayla Cohen 10, Adreyanna Jennings 3, Jalissa Pitts 10, Brittany Garner 11
S: Cianna Viccarelli 6, Sierra Sanson 14 Cam Morgan 6, Erica Barr 5.