The John Carroll school girls basketball team was a winner Tuesday night in its season opener against visiting Gerstell Academy.
The Patriots and Falcons battled back and forth tightly, throughout the IAAM game, with the Patriots holding off the Falcons for a 51-48 win.
The Patriots were led by two, first-year players; junior Tessa Boswell, a transfer from Manchester Valley High School and freshman Khaya Carter.
Boswell scored five of her team’s first nine points, but the Patriots were down a point, 10-9, through one quarter.
Gerstell scored five straight to open the second quarter and led 15-9, but John Carroll answered with five straight points to close back to within a point, 15-14.
Boswell (13 points) scored five more points in the quarter and the Patriots closed the quarter wth six unanswered points to lead 22-19 at the half.
“I was just really excited to get back out on the court, especially with coach Ty, because this is my first year here,” Boswell said. “I was excited to play with the team, so it was just good energy from the get-go.”
The momentum the Patriots took into the break was grabbed by the Falcons in the third quarter. Gerstell opened the quarter on an 11-1 run to grab the game’s biggest lead, a seven-point advantage and 30-23 lead.
John Carroll, though, battled back.
A 9-2 run pulled the Patriots even, 32-32, with Boswell’s third of three, three-point baskets, creating the tie and the Patriots weren’t done.
The quarter ended on a 13-3 run, sending the game to the final quarter with the Patriots ahead, 36-33.
“We talk about this, talk about how we respond and at the end of the game in our postgame meeting, that’s always going to be probably the most important this for us is our response to it,” Patriots head coach Tyrell Howard-Franklin said. “Teams are going to go on a run, this is the way the game is played.”
The game tightened up early in the fourth quarter and became a back-and-forth battle four minutes.
Carter’s second basket of the quarter pushed the Patriots ahead by three, 47-44, with 1:20 to play. Grace Welzenbach’s lone basket pushed the lead to five, 49-44, but Gerstell scored the next four points to pull within a point, 49-48, with 27.1 to play.
Carter (12 points, 10 in second half) ) then added her final basket for a 51-48 lead and a potential game-tying, three-point shot from Gerstell was off the mark as time expired.
Carter talked about her play in the paint. “Just being physical, knowing going into it, have a wide stance and be balanced,” she said. “I’m excited, I’m just glad that I was able to play my freshman year with this team and that the world didn’t stop it from happening.”
Meghan Ruth added eight points and Brandi Swinton scored seven for the Patriots.
Gerstell junior Kylie Redman scored 19 points to lead all scorers. Teammate Marley Saunders, a sophomore, added 10 points.
The Patriots will play home twice more this week. Concordia Prep visits Thursday at 5 p.m. and St. Maria Goretti visits Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
“We’re just so grateful for what we have here at JC, our leadership and administration because they understand how important this is for the students, they understand how important it is for the whole high school experience,” coach Howard-Franklin said. “They’ve done great job giving us this opportunity and we’re so grateful for the opportunity.”