The Chieftains returned three starters from a 20-3 squad that reached the Division 2 North semifinals last year. A look at this season’s stats indicates that each of those returning starters (Annie Burns, Jamie White, and Caroline Stewart) has been significant in the success of the 2007-08 squad. Annie is the assists leader, Jamie the steals leader, and Caroline leads in just about everything else.
Caroline’s per-game double/double (17 points/12 rebounds) has gotten her to the Boston Herald All-Scholastic level twice. Even better for the 6-footer has been the full basketball scholarship she recently accepted to Boston University.
New starters this year are junior Krissi DiBenedetto (7+ points per game) and senior Meredith DeAngelis. “One of the unsung heroes on this year’s team is Meredith,” said Coach Romeo. “She’s just 5-7 but we usually put her on the other team’s biggest kid. She’s our defensive stopper.”
The Masco girls were 13-0 in the Cape Ann League and had to defeat their archrival Pentucket in the process. “Pentucket was the favorite to win the league and we beat them here by two points (55-53) in a whale of a game. We were down by six with a couple minutes left but we came all the way back and iced it with free throws at the end.”
Masco’s only loss was in Game 3 against nonleague Cardinal Spellman in overtime. Coach Romeo contended that the loss did his team a lot of good. “Cardinal Spellman was ranked #1 in Eastern Massachusetts so we knew that they would be tough but that’s what we want in the nonleague part of our schedule. We played great against them but at the end both Caroline and Jamie fouled out. The good that came out of this was that we had to put inexperienced sophomores (Julie Galvin and Carly Kiernan) into the fire and they gained valuable experience. It also was an important lesson to Caroline and Jamie that their value to us in on the court not fouling people.”
The Chieftains rolled off 17 straight wins after the Cardinal Spellman loss and were seeded #1 in Division 2 North.
I asked the 6th-year coach to compare this team to other one’s he’s coached at Masco. “I’ve been told that this may not be the most talented team I’ve ever had but it could be the best. It may well be that these kids are more in synch with each other. They spend a lot of time together away from the court.”
One of the team’s most positive supporters is Jamie’s father (Jo Jo White – Boston Celtics). “The only words we get from him are words of encouragement. I know that during the off-season he’s done a lot of work with Jamie.”
The team will need to win four games to get to the Division 2 championship game in Worcester on March 15th. It could well happen.
(Appeared in The Town Common in an issue dated March 5th)