(Malden) Fenway blew out Shawsheen Tech, 71-45, with amazing segments of points/defense in each half and now move on to the Division 4 North finals on Friday at Emmanuel College.
The Panthers (13-7) are the reigning Division Four champs and I would expect them to be holding MIAA championship hardware again early next week at the TD North Garden after two more wins.
I thought that #3 seed Shawsheen Tech (18-4) might be able to compete with #10 seed Fenway based on last year’s D4 North finals. Shawsheen only trailed Fenway by three (29-26) after three quarters a year ago before losing, 49-34.
In the 2012-13 rematch, the Rams for 1 ½ quarters looked capable of holding their own. The team from Billerica took care of the ball and made shots. The result was that with four minutes left in the second quarter Shawsheen was in front, 19-13. During the great early going, Emily Irwin contributed seven points and Ari Medeiros five points.
Then the first segment of amazing points/defense kicked in for Fenway. Over the next five minutes of playing time, stretching into the start of the second half, the Panthers outscored Shawsheen, 22-1. (That is not a typo!)
The Rams fell victim to Panther full-court pressure (ten turnovers) and went out of synch on possession after possession. That eruption and disruption put Fenway ahead, 35-20, with most of the second half left to play.
Five of the Fenway baskets, during the first surge, were directly off of steals deep in the Shawsheen backcourt.
The hardest pill for the Ram fans was the eight points tallied by the Panthers in the last fifty seconds of the first half. Blame Tajaynay Veiga (24 points). The talented senior had four free throws, a steal that led to a layup, and a layup in that last fifty seconds.
Tajaynay was right back at it to start the second half with a three and a converted rebound.
The Rams were able to chip four points off that 15-point deficit and trail by eleven (48-37) with 1:42 left in the third quarter. Two three’s by Ari Medeiros (15 points) and one by Stephanie Champoux (9 points) keyed Shawsheen.
I mentioned earlier that there were two segments of amazing points/defense by Fenway. The second one lasted 6+ minutes stretching into the final quarter and was a 20-1 run.
The twenty Fenway points were spread among eight players, many seeing their first action of the night. The Panther shots were certainly falling.
So Shawsheen took a 68-37 deficit into the final 3 ½ minutes of the game. It makes me wonder why they don’t have a mercy rule in basketball the way they do in softball.
Trying to wrap my brain around the stat that for 11 ½ minutes of this game, Fenway outscored the Rams, 42-2!
A little math tells me that Shawsheen outscored the Panthers, 43-29, in the other minutes.
Fenway will face either #1 seed Whittier or Mystic Valley in the D4 North finals on Friday. Whittier coach Kevin Bradley was in the house and I suspect that Mystic Valley was on hand to get a preview also. Two things they had better be prepared for: Tajaynay and turnovers.
Freshman Takora McIntyre had thirteen points for Fenway. She was also a big part of the Fenway pressure.
The Fenway pressure seemed at its best on the second pass. Shawsheen could enter the ball but when the double-team came at them they either dribbled or passed into a turnover.
Small/quiet crowd at Malden High School for a semi-final game, I thought. It went library quiet on some of the free throws.
The Fenway record (13-7) would be 17-3 if not for the forfeiting of four games (according to a story in the Lowell Sun) because of using JV players in varsity games for too long, violating MIAA rules. In the case of Fenway, I suspect that the JV players were being used because the score was so lopsided in Fenway’s favor. But rules are rules!