The Lady Titans overwhelmed the Lincoln School Lynx 44-28 on Tuesday evening during a Division III Girls Basketball battle at Toll Gate High.
Toll Gate’s Sam Arnold, a senior guard, buried five three-pointers for a game-high 15 points.
“She’s been really working hard in practice with it and the hard work has been paying off for her,” Lady Titans head coach Owen Paquet said. “So, it’s nice to see her really feeling her strength as a senior. She’s really showing up for games.”
Lady Titans point guard Natalie Aloisio, also a senior, finished second in scoring, sinking three treys and totaling 11 points.
“She handles the basketball,” Paquet said. “Without her dealing with the pressure that she deals with possessing the basketball, our offense would be really hurting. But with her in it, she slows everybody down and she puts them in place. So, it’s nice to have somebody like that.”
The Lynx were topped by Kasey Osborne, who had a team-high 11 points.
Arnold scored the first points of the game when she buried a corner 3-point shot and put the Lady Titans up 3-0.
After that, the Lynx were whistled for an administrative technical foul because they had a player on their roster that was donning a different jersey number than what was recorded in the scorebook. Therefore, Toll Gate was awarded two free throws and Aloisio made both and put the Lady Titans on top 5-0 early.
However, the Lynx went on an 8-3 run after that, which knotted the score at 8. That spurt was galvanized by Jadyn Ramos, who tallied six straight points, and then Kiara Pires, who capped it with a deuce.
Toll Gate answered with a 9-1 run of its own when Arnold sank a trey, and then Aloisio, two three-pointers, which gave the Lady Titans some separation again at 17-9.
With under two minutes to play in the opening half, Arnold added two more 3-balls and they helped build the Lady Titans a 25-14 cushion.
Toll Gate went into halftime holding onto a 28-21 lead.
The Lady Titans maintained that margin throughout much of the second half, and in the final two minutes upped its advantage to 44-28, following a layup from Merrow, a three-pointer from Aloisio, and a jumper from Hiatt.
“It was great,” Paquet said. “In the second half, we pulled together. Sam Arnold had the hot hand and Natalie was possessing the ball for us. So, it was nice to see.”
Arnold credited the Toll Gate defense as well as Aloisio for finding her for wide-open shots, so that she could heat up from beyond the arc.
“I had a lot of time to set up today, but I think my shot was just on,” Arnold said. “It was just one of those days. And I think that we did pretty well shutting down everyone else defensively. So, I think that really helped us a lot. Natalie swings the ball really well from the point and she sets up the plays really well. She gets me a lot of open shots. So, overall it was pretty good.”
Toll Gate was without the inside presence of senior Sam Bertrand, who was out sick, but their bench came up big in taking her place.
“Sam’s a big part of our interior defense and rebounds,” Paquet explained. “But we had to overcome her absence today, and Mackenzie (Hiatt), Kiley (Ferns), and Meg (Merrow) did a good job replacing her rebounds and touches tonight.”
With the victory, the Lady Titans improve to 3-0 in the league while the Lynx drop to 2-1.
Toll Gate longs to continue its winning ways in hopes of making a postseason run later in the season.
“Our goal is to go as far as possible,” Paquet said. “Playoffs are definitely in the realm. And if we can get the chemistry and nucleus flowing for the last half of the year, we should make a pretty good run.”
Arnold, who is in her final season, said it feels good to be undefeated thus far.
“It definitely does,” Arnold explained. “In comparison to my other years, yeah, it feels really good.”
And Arnold believes the sky is the limit as long as the team can keep playing well.
“I don’t see any reasons why we couldn’t make it through a few rounds of the playoffs, if not further,” Arnold said. “We’re looking pretty good. Especially considering our first game against Pilgrim wasn’t the greatest, but we’ve come out strong every other game.”
The Pilgrim matchup was during an Injury Fund contest, therefore it doesn’t count towards either teams’ record.
Toll Gate plays next at Lincoln High School (2-2) at 6 p.m. this evening.