(Beverly) Pentucket never seems to run out of ways to defeat other teams. Credit defense and foul shooting as keys to the win over Ipswich.
The Sachems (23-1) broke away from a tight three-point game (27-24) in the last minute of the third quarter and won their Division 3 North semifinal match with Ipswich, 46-26, on Wednesday night at Beverly High School.
Pentucket will face Watertown in the D3 North finals at the Tsongas Center on Saturday.
If you did the math, you now know that Pentucket, over the last nine minutes of this contest, put a 19-2 collection of points on the Tigers.
In fact, the last Ipswich points were registered by Julia Davis (jump shot in the lane) with 7:13 left in the game.
This was a terribly frustrating outing for a very good Ipswich (19-4) team. They were victimized by turnovers (sixteen by my count) in the first half, put some points together in the third quarter to get to within one possession, and then couldn’t make a shot over the final nine minutes.
The Pentucket pressure defense had plenty to do with the turnovers and the poor shooting. Masey Zegarowski (15 PPG) and Caroline Soucy (10 PPG) saw plenty of defense, especially Masey from Alex Moore. Masey was held to five points and Caroline six points.
The Sachems’ shooting was scary bad in the first half. They had plenty of looks but were missing shots they usually make. They also had Tess Nogueira get into foul trouble and have to sit through much of the second period.
Pentucket led 7-5 after one quarter and 15-12 at the half.
The Tigers took the lead (17-15) early in the third quarter on a three by Caroline Soucy and a jump shot by Julia Davis.
Now the defending state champs were behind and to add to their trouble had Kelsi McNamara (13 points) on the bench with a sore knee. You started to think that this might be the night that the Tigers would take down Pentucket.
But it didn’t happen. Coley Viselli (13 points) took over Kelsi’s point guard spot and Pentucket started taking the ball to the basket. There were some layups but more important to the final outcome, there were eighteen, second-half free throws.
The Sachems were 16-of-18 from the charity stripe in the second half and that may well have been the difference maker. The Tigers were forced outside by outstanding defense and shot poorly and had only four free throws all game.
Kelsi McNamara went out early in the third quarter but came back later to start Pentucket on the 19-2 closing surge.
Kelsi had both of Pentucket’s three’s.
During the game, Ipswich struck from long range five times – Jenna Gagnon (2), Caroline Soucy (2), and Masey Zegarowski (1).
Alex Moore totaled nine points and McKenna Kilian eight points for Pentucket.
Sophomore Caroline Soucy paced Ipswich with eight points including two long ones.
This was the second time that Ipswich has faced Pentucket in tournament action. Last year it was in the North finals at the Tsongas Center. In that one, the Sachems ran twenty unanswered points in the second half and a 14-10 game turned into a 34-10 rout as Pentucket won, 49-30.
The play of both teams was unusually bad in the first half. Why? May have been that both teams had to function on offense in front of the other team’s very active student section.
Pentucket played Saturday’s opponent (Watertown) at Pentucket in the First Round two years ago. The Sachems overwhelmed the young Red Raiders, 52-22, on that occasion.
Watertown was able to eliminate St. Mary’s (62-61) last night. St. Mary’s won the D3 state title two years ago. They eliminated Pentucket that year on the way to the championship. I am sure that no tears were shed in West Newbury when word came of St. Mary’s exit from this year’s tournament.
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)