Hermenau, Rockland handle Norwell in SSL girls hoop showdown

ORWELL – In recent years, there have been two clear juggernauts in South Shore League when it comes to discussing girls basketball.

Those programs would happen to be Norwell and Rockland, a pair of schools that have developed a storied, yet fierce rivalry as neighboring communities.

On Tuesday, fans got to witness the latest chapter of the feud, and Maddy Hermenau became the newest figure to leave an imprint on its history. The senior guard matched a team-high with 17 points, pacing the Bulldogs to an impressive 59-45 victory over the Clippers on the road.

“I think the whole team just wants to come in here and do what we do best,” Hermenau said afterward. “Just play our defense, (run) our offense well. Execute, have good passes. Basically the whole game, we (performed) perfect on every single thing. I think the whole team feels really good about it.”

Entering the game, Norwell had been listed as the fifth-ranked team in the MIAA’s latest slate of Div. 3 power rankings. Meanwhile, Rockland followed suit at No. 6, setting the stage for a highly-anticipated bout between the two foes.

The Bulldogs (10-2) showed no intimidation whatsoever to start, as Hermenau teamed up with freshman standout Zariah Ottley to score a combined 16 points in the opening quarter alone, helping Rockland seize an early 20-10 lead.

Later on with 16 seconds remaining in the first half, Hermenau drove the lane, then finished a layup through contact to provide the Bulldogs a 31-22 advantage at the break.

She wasn’t finished. With about 4:50 to play in the third quarter, Hermenau found herself with the ball once again after collecting a pass from senior captain Maggie Elie. She spun around a defender, then threw up a prayer shot as she soared past the hoop. The attempt rolled home, as Rockland built a 36-24 lead.

“I’ve done that move before,” Hermenau joked afterward. “I’m just like: ‘Oh no, what am I doing right now?’ I just hope it goes in eventually.”

From that moment forward, the Bulldogs kept control of the pace, building a lead as large as 50-30 before slowing things down in the final minutes of regulation.

Ottley also finished with 17 points along with Hermenau to lead Rockland, while senior captain Sydney Blaney tacked on 10 points herself.

Madison Oliver registered a team-high 18 points to go with six rebounds for Norwell (11-2).

Like most South Shore League fans, Clippers coach Matthew Marani viewed Tuesday’s tilt as a litmus test for where he team currently stands, now an annual tradition of sorts within the rivalry. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for Norwell, which will look to get back to its winning ways later this week.

“It wasn’t one difference,” said Marani. “They really beat us in every phase of the game. On the offensive end, in transition, defensive end, on the glass, coaching…all of it. They beat us. They were the more prepared team, and they executed at a higher level.”

While Rockland coach Diana Newcomb was thrilled with her team’s latest effort, the victory was only a stepping stone in what she eventually hopes will be another long playoff run through the Div. 3 field.

“Honestly, I haven’t even looked at the power rankings,” said Newcomb. “I only know where we are because people say it, people mention it and talk about it. The power rankings, again, only at Game 12, they change weekly…it’s too early for me to even think about that. We have enough left in the regular season that I need to concentrate on before we look at anything postseason-wise.”