(West Newbury MA) Pentucket had a rousing second half and defeated North Reading, 50-35, in Cape Ann League action on Tuesday night.
These teams shared the league title last year and split their games with each other during the season.
Graduation had put a serious dent into both teams and I was curious to see what they would be like this season.
The defenses on both sides were impressive. There were very few direct routes to the basket.
One of the glaring stats in this game was the high number of turnovers. By my count, each team committed twenty-five of them. The traveling violations by both squads almost reached the epidemic level. But that is what happens when defenses play well.
The other glaring stat was the free throw shooting. It was atrocious. The Sachems (3-0) missed twenty-three times while the Hornets (2-1) missed ten.
The visitors broke away from a 6-6 tie (2:41 of the first) and had a ten-point lead (22-12) with 2:12 to go in the second quarter. The key to the NR breakaway was made 3’s by Taylor Moore, Victoria Grasso, and Ali Grasso.
Meanwhile, Pentucket struggled to make any kind of shot.
The second half was an entirely different story. Pentucket put in two freshmen (Angelina Yacubacci and Casey Hunt) to start and off the Sachems went. The home team made shots and that allowed their press to get set up. NR did not react well and had eleven of their TO’s in the third quarter alone.
Angelina Yacubacci led the Sachems with nine points and all of them came in the terrific Pentucket third quarter.
Pentucket put a 15-1 run together to get ahead for good, 27-23 with an Alyssa Demeule layup assisted by Bella Doyle at 2:30 of the 3rd quarter being the final points.
By the end of the 3rd, the Sachems led, 34-27, and looked to be pulling away for good. Suddenly, however, in two straight possessions in the final quarter, the Hornets (Casey McAuliffe, Lauren Sullivan) drained 3-pointers. Now within a point (34-33) with 6 ½ minutes left, it was once again anyone’s game.
That Pentucket defense that had been good turned to very good over the final 6 ½ minutes. NR was limited to two points by a defense that would not allow penetration. There was plenty of side-to-side stuff going on but getting to the basket ended for North Reading.
In the same final minutes, Pentucket started with nine unanswered points. They had two layups (Liv Cross, Emily Riley) on assists by freshman Casey Hunt. An NR turnover led to a layup (Emily Riley) and then senior Colleen Jameson added a dagger-three to drive the Pentucket lead to ten (43-33) and this game was history.
Sophomore Casey McAuliffe led all scorers with ten points.
Key matchup, with plenty of future potential, was between freshman point guards Casey Hunt and Ali Grasso.
NR’s 6-5 Jess Lezon is now at Yale. Jess had seventeen points and twenty rebounds in the Hornets win last February at Pentucket.
NR’s Kat Hassapis will be playing soccer at Bentley in the fall of 2017.
John McNamara’s coaching record at Pentucket is now at 217-35. This year’s team is young but the defense is very good. The offense? They have size but taking advantage of it versus NR led to many turnovers. I’m guessing that the foul shooting will become less “foul” as the season goes on.
The biggest surprise for me was the temperature in the gym. What happened to the heat? Anyone who has been there in the past knows how tropical it was. Maybe a window was open?
North Reading was 20-3 last year and reached the D3 North finals. Pentucket was 16-6 and lost in the first round to Triton.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)