On a night filled with nerves, emotion and excitement, town resident and basketball standout Brenna Gonsalves became the all-time leading scorer at Coyle-Cassidy during a 51-32 victory over Bishop Stang in an Eastern Athletic Conference game on Tuesday night in Taunton.
Gonsalves, a senior captain and three-guard for the Warriors, entered the game needing just 12 points to break the all-time scoring record at the school, held by 1996 graduate Eric Ferris, who scored 1,397 points during a stellar career with the Warriors.
Gonsalves scored a game-high 18 points against the Spartans on Tuesday night, improving her new school record total to 1,404 career points.
“I’m happy for her,” said Ferris, prior to the start of the game. “It is a great thing for an 18-year-old to go through. It is a great honor. I held the record for 15 years and it was made to be broken at some point.”
Gonsalves scored seven points in the first quarter, helping Coyle take a three-point advantage, 16-13, after one.
“I was not nervous until I was standing in the doorway before the game was about to start,” Gonsalves said. “It was exciting and I had a lot of nervous energy.”
“Everyone was nervous at the beginning of the game,” said Coyle-Cassidy head coach Mike O’Brien.
That situation was not helped by the fact that the varsity game started almost 30 minutes late due to long-running freshman and junior varsity contests.
A steal and lay-up by Gonsalves with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter pulled her within three of the new scoring record and gave the Warriors a 10-point lead at 23-13.
A drive by the Norton resident with 2:52 left in the first half closed her within one of the scoring mark and helped Coyle increase its advantage to 14 points at 27-13.
With the excitement in the stands building, Gonsalves got the record when she converted a lay-up off a nice pass from junior center Tricia Quinn with 57.6 seconds left in the second quarter. Prior to the Warrior possession, O’Brien called a play specifically designed for Gonsalves, and the Warrior star did not disappoint, converting the pass by Quinn into a basket and the school record.
“It was an exciting moment,” Gonsalves said. “I heard the crowd cheering, and my teammates were excited. It was a proud moment for everyone. It was a great atmosphere. All the girls on the team have been so supportive of me. This is a really close-knit team.”
Following the basket by Gonsalves, the game was stopped with O’Brien announcing the new school scoring mark just set by his standout three-guard.
“I don’t know who was more nervous before the game,” O’Brien said. “I really wanted Brenna to get the record and I wanted everything to go just right with the ceremony when it did happen. Her accomplishing this is astonishing. When Brenna came here, I knew 1,000 points was within reach. But to break Eric’s record is just a great accomplishment by her. But the thing I’m most proud of, is the humility that Brenna always shows.”
After she broke the all-time scoring record, Ferris presented the game ball to Gonsalves, who proceeded to give the ball to her father, Ed. The Warrior star then hugged members of her family, including her mother Anne, as well as her head coach and teammates before the game resumed.
“I’m very proud of her,” said her father at halftime. “She is such a hard worker and is so humble. I could not be prouder of her. It has been a great night with our whole family able to be here to enjoy it.”
That record-breaking basket by Gonsalves also completed an incredible 18-0 second-quarter run by Coyle-Cassidy that would give the hosts a 21-point advantage at the break, 34-13.
“We really turned it on defensively in the second quarter,” O’Brien said. “Our defense was very good. These girls take a lot of pride in their defense.”
However, after all that emotion and excitement in the first half, it turned out to be a rather flat second half, especially during the third quarter. Gonsalves scored four of her team’s six points in the third quarter as the Spartans attempted to get back in the game by outscoring the hosts 13-6 in the quarter to cut the lead to 40-26 after three.
“Whenever our routine changes, we get sloppy,” O’Brien said.
Holding a 14-point lead at 41-27, the Warriors put the contest away with a 6-0 run that gave them a 20-point lead at 47-27 with 5:01 left in the game. Gonsalves contributed the final point of her 18-point effort on the night with a free throw with 5:53 left.
Along with those 18 points, Gonsalves also had seven rebounds, four steals and two assists. Senior captain and point guard Kelsey Dermody hit a three-pointer in the first quarter to go along with her seven assists in the game.
Coyle-Cassidy out-rebounded Bishop Stang 27-14 on the night. The Warriors committed just eight turnovers in the game, while forcing 18 Spartan miscues. The win also improved Coyle-Cassidy to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the EAC.
“This accomplishment would not be as enjoyable if the team was not doing as well as it is,” said Gonsalves, showing her unselfish, team-first attitude.
But being the center of attention is not exactly Gonsalves’ cup of tea.
“This is a great accomplishment and I really appreciate it,” she said. “It was a special night for me, but I’m not a person that likes the spotlight. I’m a shy person.”
Gonsalves’ future college coach, Heather Jacobs of Adelphi University on Long Island, was also in attendance and continues to be impressed with the Warrior standout.
“She is very athletic,” said Jacobs at halftime on Tuesday night. “She is not afraid to get on the floor and get dirty. She will be a great fit for our program. Brenna is a great kid and we need good people in our program. This is a great milestone for her to accomplish. It is a special night for her. Brenna is such an unselfish player, it was fun to watch.”
In the junior varsity game on Tuesday night, Bishop Stang defeated Coyle-Cassidy, 44-38. Sophomore guard Siobain Dermody scored all four of her points in the first half, including three in the first quarter. Sophomore guard Caitlin Hansen converted a free throw in the third quarter for her only point of the night.
After waiting nine days between games, the Warriors will not play again until next Monday night when they travel to Dartmouth for a re-match with Bishop Stang at 6:30 p.m. Coyle was originally scheduled to host a make-up game against Martha’s Vineyard Saturday at 3 p.m., but that EAC contest has been shifted to Sunday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m.