The Wilmington girls basketball team was cold down the stretch on Thursday. But the Lady Wildcats were so white hot to start the game, things evened out in the first round of the North Division 2 postseason.
After sprinting to an 18-0 out of the gates, a lead that ballooned to 24-2, the locals allowed Waltham back in the game in the final minutes before advancing with a 58-51 home win.
"They were sky high in the first half and came out in the second half a little flat footed," said Wilmington head coach Jay Keane. "(Waltham) did make a run, but overall we just wanted to get the win and move on."
Thanks in part to several key missed Wildcat free throws, Waltham had the ball down six points with 33 seconds to go. Carli Brent forced a jump ball to get Wilmington the ball back before the Hawks forced a jump of their own to snag possession right back.
But Jen Stewart earned a steal and Wilmington put the game just out of reach to help the team advance.
Emily Crannell led the way with 15 points for the Lady Wildcats while Stewart and Michelle Woods each chipped in 11 markers as a part of a balanced offensive attach.
"Everyone is great at doing their own roles," said Crannell. "Everyone does their part."
With the victory, the No. 3 seeded Wildcats moved on to the second round. They'll face Gloucester on Monday night at 7 p.m. on their home court.
It had been nearly two weeks since Keane's charges . The Wilmington mentor said it wasn't a factor early on, but may have been late.
"We didn't show any early signs of rust, but i think the girls wore down," said Keane. "That adrenaline that was flowing, halftime took a little bit out of us and settled us down."