Jay Keane’s Wilmington girls basketball team sputtered out of the gates. But it appears the Lady Wildcats have saved their best for last.
The team’s playoff chances looked bleak after a 2-6 start, but a four-game winning streak jolted the team right back in the conversation. That strong play has continued, and thanks to a critical road win Tuesday the Wildcats are now just two wins from the postseason with five games to play.
Wilmington traveled to Watertown and left with a 49-45 win behind 20 points from Alex Derian, who started her first game since breaking her wrist during the team’s Christmas tournament.
“We’re just getting a little more patient,” said Keane. “With an up-tempo team, you need to know when to pull it back a little bit. We are trusting the offense and our team defense has been getting better, which has been the key.”
Keane has been receiving contributions from a long list of players each night. Both Christa and Carli Brent are chipping in, Michelle Woods has been the leading scorer at times, and Rachael Mara has also been contributing as well.
According to the Wildcat mentor, the depth of contributors has been the key to the team’s success.
“Coming into the season, I knew that we weren’t going to have one go to scorer,” said Keane. “But we knew that through defense and distributing the ball we could get a bunch of girls involved, and that’s what we’ve been getting. Girls understand their roles, they’re doing it well, and they’re playing as a team.”
Wilmington’s final stretch begins with a home tilt against Melrose on Friday night and Senior Night versus Wakefield on Tuesday in the final game to ever be played in the current high school gym before it’s demolished.
On February 15 the team travels to face Burlington before concluding the regular season on February 17 and 18 in the Spartan Tournament at St. Mary’s in Lynn. Those games would be against Tewksbury or Melrose.
Burlington is in first place in the Middlesex League while Melrose and Wakefield are the bottom two teams in the league.
“They know every game from here out is big,” said Keane. “I’ve kept the girls focused on one game at a time, so right now we’re just worrying about Melrose.”