By John Anderson                   

On Monday night, the Auburn girls varsity basketball beat Millbury 40-30 in a hard, physical game. Auburn Coach Ellen Kaschuluk said, “Both teams have a lot of passion. They won’t back down.” And back down they didn’t.

Auburn’s strategy was simple: keep Millbury’s best shooters away from the paint. But this comes at a cost. The Rockets were in foul trouble in both halves, and the Woolies got points from the resulting free throws. Otherwise, Auburn held Payton Bruegger to 11 points, Brooke Nadeau to 7, and Alexandria Pariseau to 6.

The Rocket defense frustrated the Millbury guards as movement down court was often painfully slow. Once in the paint, the Woolie offense had difficulty connecting through the arms, bodies and rebounds of the Auburn girls. The first quarter ended with Auburn up 9-8. The Rockets put up 9 unanswered points to begin the second, and at the half, Auburn had a nice 23-15 lead.

Both teams scored 9 points in the third, ending 32-24, but the game started to get out of control. At one point, Emily Sarkisian was knocked down and laid prone on the court without a whistle. The referees let the game play on until shouts from players, coaches and spectators got it stopped. Emily was helped off the court after spitting out some pieces of her braces. She would return later in the 4th.

At another point, a referee was discussing the ejection of a parent who was being abusively vocal. The parent walked out before official action occurred. Emotions were escalating in the gym, and there was a lot of displeasure with the officiating. Fortunately, the game ended as Ryanne Burke held the ball for the last seconds.

After the final whistle, a Woolie pushed Burke to the floor. A nice display of poor sportsmanship. Amber Abderrazzaq and Emily Sarkisian each had 10 points for Auburn while Ryanne Burke had 9. Coach Kaschuluk summed up the game, “Playing Millbury is always fun, with a lot of grit.”

When the referees finally left the locker room and went outside, there were four cars in the parking lot. One was mine.