(Boston) Pentucket (22-4) secured passage to the state D3 finals on Saturday in Worcester with a solid second half as they defeated Fairhaven (22-3), 53-39, on Tuesday at the TD Bank Garden.
Each team tallied just five points in a second period that may well have been impacted by a serious injury to Fairhaven starter Ashley Brown in the first quarter. Ashley dove out-of-bounds for a loose ball and collided with the edge of the scorer’s table. Considerable time was rightly spent by the numerous medical people on hand to take care of Ashley. She was taken to Mass General.
The Sachems had a 19-18 lead after the sluggish second period and I had no sense of how the second half would go.
As it turned out, for Pentucket it went very well. Their defense produced turnovers (six in the 3rd period) and Sarah Higgins (20 points) hit from the outside, inside, and from the foul line. The Sachems actually took the lead for good (26-24 on a full-court Sarah drive at 4:54) with the advantage being 34-28 heading into the final quarter.
Kelsi McNamara destroyed any Fairhaven thoughts of a last-quarter rally with three long ones. The first one gave Pentucket a 40-30 lead with 5:23 left. The second one, on the next possession, built the Sachem advantage to 43-31 with five minutes left, and the third one kept the lead at twelve (48-36) with 2:45 to go.
Also in that final frame, Sarah Higgins continued to be productive. She had an old-fashioned three, a layup, and a steal and a layup by the two-minute mark. Sarah’s last score put this one out of reach, 51-38, with two minutes left and many reserves saw action the rest of the way.
Basketball is a team game and every coach knows the value of having players who get the ball to scorers. Pentucket’s Alex Moore had four assists in the last quarter. The 5-7 junior assisted Kelsi McNamara on all of her triples and also spotted Sarah Higgins in close for a layup.
Kara Charette led Fairhaven with fifteen points. The Pentucket full-court defense double-teamed Kara to try and keep the ball away from her. That approach paid off especially in the final quarter when Pentucket earned point separation from the Blue Devils by holding the talented senior scoreless.
Pentucket scored the first seven points of the game (Sarah Higgins layup, Coley Viselli triple, and Tess Nogueira layup) but Fairhaven answered with six straight (Kay Mullen jumper, Ashley Brown fast break layup, and a Kara Charette converted rebound).
Coley Viselli (10 points) had three triples in the first half. Kelsi McNamara had three in the final quarter. Fairhaven did not connect from beyond the arc.
Tess Nogueira had four points and during the days leading up to this Saturday’s D3 finals in Worcester will probably be spending considerable prep time at the foul line. The normally reliable free-throw shooter was an abnormal 2-for-11, including one air ball, against Fairhaven.
Pentucket had only six turnovers in the decisive second half.
Ashley Brown had already scored seven points before she was injured. I overheard her coach say in the pressroom afterwards that Ashley usually averages fifteen points per game. I suspect that many of the Fairhaven faithful will recall this game with, “What if Ashley…….” I hope that the Blue Devil junior recovers fully for next season.
Two years ago Pentucket reached the D3 finals only to lose to Lee at the DCU Center in Worcester. Maybe this time around things will be different.
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge significantly if you click on them.)