NORTH ANDOVER — With so many newcomers on the court, it took a senior and a seasoned junior to make the difference for Lawrence yesterday afternoon in the opening Hyde Division game in the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic.
Senior Karisha Jimenez led all scorers with 15 points and junior point guard Genesis Santana added 10 as the Lancers held off cold-shooting Methuen, 46-40, to advance to Saturday’s 1:45 p.m. championship game against Salem.
Jimenez and Santana had possession of the ball the majority of the time Lawrence was on offense and their combined 36 shots were nearly half put up by the entire team.
“They (Jimenez and Santana) have played in these kind of games before so they know what to do,” said Lawrence coach Dan Blouin, whose club improved to 1-2. “Sometimes, I think we put too much pressure on them, but they can handle it.
“This was a typical Methuen-Lawrence battle — hard fought. I think both teams are still trying to find themselves, so there were a lot of mistakes.”
Each team had ballhandling issues at times, with Lawrence finishing with 26 turnovers, five more than Methuen, but it was probably erratic shooting that was most costly for the Rangers.
Methuen was only 16 of 67 from the floor and, more important, converted just 1 of 13 free throws. Lawrence was 5 of 10 from the foul line.
Ahead by one at halftime, 23-22, Lawrence pulled away a bit in the third quarter, outscoring Methuen 14-7 in the frame. The Rangers were just 3 of 15 in that frame and committed six turnovers.
But, led by Murphy Carroll, Methuen battled back to within four, 44-40, and had the ball with more than a minute left. But a steal and layup by sophomore Aria Tate (nine points) with 40 seconds remaining sealed the victory for the Lancers.
“I don’t think we took enough shots, and we were a little thrown off trying to shoot behind the blue line instead of the yellow line, but I give Lawrence credit,” said Methuen coach Karen McLaughlin. “It came down to defense and they played better defense.”