For the second March night, the girls basketball team’s playoff life hinged on the three-point shot.
And once again, the clutch shooter was Sophie Bikofsky, who netted four fourth-quarter three-pointers en route to the Lions 64-57 win over No. 11 Taunton in the Div. 1 South Sectional tournament.
“She is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen in New England,” said Newton South head coach Sam Doner. “I’ve been training a lot of kids in my life and I’ve seen a lot of great shooters. Shooters keep shooting—open, if you’re not open, shoot the ball. She started losing confidence in the first half, starting gaining it in the second half.”
The third-seeded Lions (21-1) now advance to the semi-finals where they will play No. 2 Mansfield (23-1). The game’s day and time is yet to be determined, but it will be played at Massosoit Community College in Brockton.
Bikofsky had reason to lose confidence in the first half as her shots beyond the arc were not falling. But her teammates were there to pick up the slack as Ana Horowitz and Kayla Burton hit back-to-back threes giving the Lions the early 8-2 lead.
The Tigers weren’t daunted, though, and quickly erased the deficit as an Erica McGreevey three tied the score at 10-10. But the Lions managed to end the first period on top as a Kayla Burton steal led to Chloe Rothman hitting a basket for the 14-10 advantage.
Newton South’s lead was again short-lived as Taunton went on a 4-0 run to begin the second quarter. But the Lions were able to attain the upper hand when Bikofsky hit her first three of the game near the 2:00 mark. That put Newton South up 28-23.
And with four seconds remaining in the half, the Lions’ momentum gained more steam when Rothman’s inbound pass to Kayla Burton led to the sophomore draining a three-pointer giving Newton South the 33-25 lead.
“That was drawn up,” said Doner. “Certain plays, certain ways and if the group is covered, she gets open. She made it and I think that helped us a lot.”
In the third quarter, the Lions continued leading and when Bikofsky blasted home a three-pointer, Newton South had the 43-36 advantage.
The tide turned as the period drew to a close when McGreevey hit a pair of free throws. That ignited a 10-0 surge that stretched into the fourth quarter and was capped off by a three-point play from Lauren Perra.
The Lions immediately bounced back as Bikofsky scored in the paint, and was followed with a Kayla Burton three-pointer, which allowed Newton South to regain the lead 48-46. Newton South would go on to victory with the aid of Bikofsky’s three-point blizzard.
Bikofsky finished the contest with a game-high 27 points. But her teammate, Kendall Burton, was also a key factor in the triumph contributing five points, seven rebounds, and six steals.
“In the end, our shots fell and theirs didn’t,” said Doner. “I’m just happy to move on to the next round.”