AUBURN — St. Dom’s used a press to defeat Pine Tree Academy in its 53-43 season-opening victory in Callahan Family Gym on the campus of St. Dominic Academy.
“Our press is what is going to get our wins,” Saints junior guard Charli Apodaca said. “It is where our energy comes from, and when we get a lot of points from our press. It’s just a key point of our game.”
Apodaca scored a game-high 30 points.
Pine Tree coach Josh Dayen took note of what the Breakers did well and not so well in the first game of the season.
“I saw a lot of good stuff and a lot of things we need to work on,” Dayen said. “It’s a group that’s willing to work hard, and when we see them at home, it will be a different game.”
The rematch is scheduled for Jan. 20.
The Saints started off quickly in the first quarter. After Chloe Croteau’s 3-pointer for the first points of the game roughly two minutes in, St. Dom’s scored 12 points in quick succession off of turnovers the Saints created on Pine Tree inbound passes.
Apodaca and Piper Croteau had a hand in St. Dom’s stretching the lead to 15-0.
St. Dom’s first-year coach Brandon Rogers said Apodaca and Piper Croteau have good chemistry on the court.
“They work very well together, and we are a cohesive unit defensively,” Rogers said. “I think that will help us out this year.”
Julia Brown finally got the Breakers on the board to make it 15-2.
Piper Croteau scored 10 of her 12 points in the first quarter as the Saints built a 23-8 lead.
Apodaca paced the Saints’ offense in the second quarter by scoring 10 of the team’s 12 points in the period. The other bucket belonged to Avery Gravel, who finished with six in the game.
“Charli is a huge piece for us moving forward,” Rogers said. “We have two seniors Avery and Anna (Geyer-Shaheen) that are starting. Charli is the only junior that’s starting. We have a young team, but she’s going to be very important for us.”
The Breakers slowly started to get their offense going in the second period, during which Brown had six of her 10 points. Kathryn Callender added four points and Chantel Bazzizane hit a 3.
St. Dom’s went into halftime with a 35-21 advantage. They added to their lead at the start of the third quarter by going back to the press and scoring the first 10 points of the second half.
Bazzizane started to find her rhythm from the free-throw line, making 5 of 6 attempts, in the third quarter for Pine Tree.
“She brings a level of toughness that you don’t see very often,” Dayen said. “She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t let the game get her down. She’s consistent and she knocks down some big shots.”
The Saints led 45-30 going into the final quarter, but the Breakers started playing better and forcing turnovers of their own. Bazzizane dropped in eight more points to finish with a team-high 21.
“The girls started to get more confident in their defensive positions, started to pressure the ball more, and realized they can start anticipating some of the passes that we were letting go through in the first half,” Dayen said.
Rogers noticed a difference in the Saints’ play when they relaxed defensively.
“We need to find that momentum, and consistent stride throughout the game is going to be a big piece for us,” Rogers said. “I got everyone in tonight, which is huge, and it was great energy and a great team win.”
Apodaca scored six of the Saints’ eight points in the fourth.
“It was a good start to our season,” Apodaca said of the win. “We played good and we worked as a team, which is important.”