THORNDIKE — Colleen O’Donnell makes it sound so simple.
“When I’m up top on the zone, I just sort of try to anticipate the pass,” she said. “Hopefully, I guess right and make the steal.”
In her last two games, against Belfast and Mt. View, O’Donnell has a total of 21 steals. On Tuesday night, she finished with 22 points, 12 steals and five rebounds to lead Waterville to a 53-39 girls basketball victory over Mt. View.
“She led them tonight,” Mt. View coach Erica Gabbianelli said. “She took control of the game, and we didn’t have an answer for it.”
O’Donnell made her mark early, with seven points and six steals in the first quarter. She had back-to-back steals and layups to push Waterville’s lead to 9-4 midway through the first quarter. The Panthers (5-3) upped that to 18-6 by the end of the quarter.
“Colleen has a wonderful ability to anticipate what’s going to happen,” Waterville coach Rob Rodrigue said. “At times, she’ll even kind of bait you into passes that you don’t want to make. I can’t handcuff that kid. She’s too good of a player. So I ask her to do certain things, and she does them, and it worked out well tonight.”
O’Donnell did the back-back-steal-and-layup thing again in the second quarter, this time bringing Waterville’s lead to 27-8. The Mustangs got some inside baskets from Brooke Tripp (10 points, eight rebounds) and Ashlee Spaulding, and were within 29-15 at the half.
From the start, Mt. View tried to run the floor, which resulted in a somewhat sloppy game (63 total turnovers). Things were especially helter-skelter early in the third quarter, and Mt. View used a 3-pointer from Courtney Morse (11 points) and got as close as 33-22 with plenty of time left.
“We have, in the past, had a tendency to get really down on ourselves, but we’re trying to work through that this season and just make a run at it,” Gabbianelli said. “We had a little bit of a run, but they had just gotten too big of a lead on us.”
With their lead down to 11, the Panthers went on a 12-0 run, with O’Donnell, Emma Cristan, Jordan Jabar and Hannah Allen (10 points) all contributing. That made the score 45-22, and Rodrigue said the key was that Waterville got back to fundamentals like proper defensive stance and boxing out.
“I think we were plus-seven on the boards tonight, and that’s big for us, because we’re so small,” Rodrigue said. “The kids are starting to believe when I tell them. When we win the rebounding battle, we’re going to be OK.”
Mt. View (2-7) scrapped to the end, cutting that 23-point deficit down to 13, but as before, the lead was too big to overcome, and the Mustangs had to settle for making the final score respectable when they had a chance to fold.
“We have some young kids that you saw at the end. They want to be in there. They’re digging in and working hard every night,” Gabbianelli said. “I think we’ll be OK. Anything can happen. We’ve still got (nine games) left. Just get back to work tomorrow, and roll with it.”