AUBURN — St. Dominic Academy’s all-conference guards last season picked up where they left off in their first game of 2019-20.

Seniors Mia-Angelina Leslie and Becca Zimmerman made play after play on both sides of the ball and led the Saints to a 43-33 season-opening girls basketball victory over Old Orchard Beach on Saturday.

Zimmerman scored a game-high 16 points and added four steals and three assists, while Leslie added 10 points, eight boards and six steals.

Zimmerman said she nervous early in the game, but neither she nor Leslie showed, each putting up five points in the opening quarter to give the Saints a 12-4 lead after one.

“It’s my last season, and I don’t want it to be over, so I was nervous,” Zimmerman said. “We played really well on offense and we executed what we wanted very well.”

Saints coach J.P. Yorkey noticed the nerves from players on both sides, but he liked the defensive effort put forth by his team.

“I think both teams were a little nervous and sloppy for the first one,” Yorkey said. “I liked how we played defense in the first half. That’s a good team over there and their guards are good. We did a good job on (Old Orchard Beach junior) Shani Plante — Shani Plante is one of the better players in our league. Defensively, I was pleased.”

The Seagulls didn’t get much going on offense early, as Zimmerman and Leslie combined for seven steals in the first half, and Leslie added a block in the second quarter.

“I thought our first half we played like it was the first time we touched a basketball in a while,” Old Orchard Beach coach Dean Plante said. “We played shaky. We were a little nervous and apprehensive (about) when to shoot and pass. We were making defensive rotations mistakes, and I’ll chalk that up to in-game jitters.”

St. Dom’s took a 22-10 lead into the halftime break, and kept the offense running in the third. Zimmerman and Hannah Kenney scored four points apiece in the third quarter to help hold off a Seagulls offense that finally found its stride. 

Plante hit two 3-pointers in the quarter and freshman Elise MacNair added five points. The Seagulls hit shots at a higher clip in the third, but Zimmerman and the Saints’ offense always had an answer. 

“We did a better job executing in the half court,” Yorkey said. “(Zimmerman) was patient and she picked her spots well. Her shot selection was excellent.”

Zimmerman said moving off the ball is a key piece of the Saints’ offense.

“Just cutting, basically. Our entire offense is cutting and moving and trying to find the open lane,” she said. “I try to get involved and get my teammates involved.”

Zimmerman said her teammates give her a boost, as well.

“The energy. It started off on the bench and then trickled onto the court,” Zimmerman said. “It makes it so much easier to play when there is energy because I want to play and I want to be energized.”

MacNair pulled in nine of her 13 rebounds in the second half to help create more offense for the Seagulls, but every time OOB began to inch closer, the Saints answered. 

“We made a couple shots early in the second half, but I thought we were a little more aggressive offensively,” Plante said. “We got to the line and we got in the paint. I thought that’s what we talked about at halftime, and the kids responded. It felt like every time we got it to eight or nine, they hit a big 3. When you dig a hole, that’s what happens.”

Not many shots fell in the fourth quarter for either team, but Kenney did add four points to her total and the Saints held on for a 10-point victory to start the season. 

“I think all of us as coaches, it’s number one of 18 and we try to get better each week,” Yorkey said. “We have had some good progression in the first couple weeks and hopefully at the end we can be as good as we can be.”

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