The first of Chace Carpenter’s three 3-pointers gave BFA-Fairfax a halftime lead Friday night against visiting Milton, and her second started a nine-point run on the way to a 43-33 basketball victory.
Senior forwards Meghan Bochanski (game-high 11 points) and Kayla Baczewski (six) provided the perfect complement to Carpenter’s long-range shooting — the sophomore’s other points coming on a long fourth-quarter three launched from at least six feet beyond the arc — as they dominated the second half inside and scored 11 of their combined 17 points after intermission.
Milton was led by nine points from Nicole Menard, who scored in each quarter after opening the game with a 3-pointer. The Yellowjackets also got threes from Kaitlyn Brouard (7 points) and Samantha Ryea, while Danielle Phelps hit three of four free throws and added five points. Mary Rowley led the rebounding effort with seven to go with her four points. Menard and Phelps handed out three assists each.
Bochanski led Fairfax in steals (10) and rebounds (9), while Brooke Naylor had five steals and four rebounds and Baczewski seven rebounds. Carpenter picked up seven assists, creating just under half the team’s 15 baskets she didn’t score herself.
Coach Mike Lefebvre didn’t have to work hard to come up with a familiar echo of the Bullets’ imposing lineup, which inside features a trio of seniors and outside has another veteran and a pair of young players who combine quickness and poise.
Bochanski and Baczewski are fourth-year starters in the post and are joined on the front line by Naylor. A fourth senior — Dani Russin — also starts in the backcourt, while Carpenter is a versatile point guard, who, as a sophomore, is already in her second season running the BFA offense. Her backup is a freshman — Mikayla Sullivan — who kicked in eight points Friday night in her high school debut.
Eight years ago, Lefebvre had a team that struggled with some promising freshman starting every night, much as BFA had trouble competing when Bochanski and Baczewski became immediate starters when they got to high school.
“That group as freshmen won three games, and as seniors, they won 23,” said the Milton coach, who saw those seniors go out with a Division II state championship after winning three, eight and 11 games before the 2007 title.
Playing two seasons in D2 and last winter in D3, the Bullets come into this season having won 12, eight and 10 games in the past three regular seasons, falling in the first round of the tournament each time.
Lefebvre does not foresee another quick exit for this BFA squad.
“I expect Fairfax to be one of the top contenders in Division II this year,” he said.
He also expects his Yellowjackets to be more prepared when they meet the Bullets again Friday night.
“They played well,” he said of BFA. “We didn’t hit our outside shots, so they just stayed in their zone. Zones are going to be tough until we get our shooting going.”
The Yellowjackets made their shots in the opening minutes, threatening to run away with the game.
Menard’s opening three was followed by Bochanski’s only first-half basket, but Milton added three straight scores with a basket by Rowley and another three from Brouard, a sophomore.
Fairfax coach Mike Wells said having four seniors on the floor with Carpenter (who, a month earlier, was concluding her cross country season with a strong run in the New England Championships) was critical as the Bullets stared at an 8-2 deficit five minutes in.
“A year ago we probably would have fallen apart,” Wells said. “But we got some leadership there.”
Naylor ended the run with a shot from just inside the arc in the left corner, and three straight Milton turnovers later, it was all even again. A full-court press steal sent Sullivan inside for a layup, Baczewski drained a long shot from the right corner and Bochanski finished off the opening quarter with the first of her three blocks.
The teams traded baskets for most of the second period before back-to-back scores by Sullivan and Baczewski gave BFA its first lead, 14-12. Menard tied it off a great inside pass from Kaitlin Reilly before Carpenter’s first three of the night put the hosts up 17-14 at the half.
“We got a big lift from Mikayla Sullivan, with her eight points and a good job moving the ball,” Wells said of the freshman, who was a key player on the BFA soccer team that finished 16-2 and played in the state final. “She’s very poised, very mature.”
Menard got Milton back within a point on a long field goal to close out a long possession, but Fairfax ran off eight straight points and never led by less than six the rest of the way.
Carpenter started the decisive burst with a three from the right corner, Naylor came up with a steal and again scored from a step inside the arc for a 22-16 edge. Bochanski got the lead to eight with a 10-footer, then stole the ball and drove for a score that made it 26-16.
Milton could only trim two points from the deficit before the end of the third, but Brouard’s fast-break score and a steal and two free throws by Phelps made it interesting, at 34-28 with 5:17 to play. Strong inside scores by Bochanski bookended Carpenter’s final three — fired up from just in front of the BFA bench, far beyond the arc — got the lead to a game-high 13 points and effectively ended the Yellowjackets’ chances.
“By the time she’s a senior, Chace will be one of the best players in the area, if not the state,” Wells said.
Lefebvre would probably not argue that point, though he was pleased with the job Brouard and others did containing the Fairfax sophomore and her rare skill set that includes ball-handling and passing, strong drives to the basket and a long-range shot.
“We’ve got a couple of girls who can stay with her,” he said. “We have a lot of good, young players. I can’t fault the effort at all. We tried some different things, but we weren’t prepared for their 1-3-1.
“We’ll be ready next week.”
ROSTER: 2012-13 Varsity Girls Basketball
4 Kaitlin Reilly Guard Soph.
10 Kaitlyn Brouard Guard Soph.
11 Nicole Menard Guard Senior
12 Mary Rowley Guard Senior
3/13 Samantha Ryea Fwd Senior
20 Katie Rayner Guard Fresh.
21 Abigail McRae Guard Junior
22 Danielle Phelps Fwd Junior
23 Christine Perry Fwd Soph.
24 Paige Johnson G/F Junior
33 Selena Patterson Fwd Fresh.
Head Coach: Mike LeFebvre
Asst. Coaches: Jim Deuell & Jim Harton