(West Newbury MA) “No amount of scouting can help you against that kind of defense.”
That was what Wilmington coach Jessica Robinson said after her Wildcats fell to Pentucket, 61-34, in the Division 2 North quarter-finals on Thursday night.
The Sachems (20-3) move on to the semi-finals on Tuesday night against #4 Swampscott at Whittier.
The top-seed hounded #8 Wilmington into twenty-five turnovers and kept the Wildcats from functioning smoothly on offense for much of the game.
“We work hard on defense,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara. “They had a couple of very good players and so we had to key on them.”
One of those players was junior Jenna Tavanese (15 points). Jenna hit two 3’s and Olivia Almeida added another during 1 ½ minutes of the first quarter. That burst of great shooting propelled the visitors into a, 9-4, lead with three minutes left in that quarter. Sophomore Kylie DuCharme assisted in all three triples.
“We were definitely nervous in the early going,” explained Pentucket senior Jess Galvin afterwards. “We were getting used to the crowd.”
Once the team from the Cape Ann League settled in, the Wildcats were in trouble. The Sachems trapping stymied the offensive flow of Wilmington and when Pentucket’s offense began to click, this game turned in their favor.
Pentucket answered the Wilmington 3’s with two of their own (Anna Wyner & Angelina Yacubacci) plus a layup from Angelina (17 points).
The Sachems led 12-11 after one quarter.
The home team took the lead for good early in the second quarter after Liv Cross converted a rebound and teammate Maddi Doyle drained a three.
Up by two (17-15) three minutes into the 2nd quarter, the Sachems put a 10-2 segment together (featuring 3’s from MacKenzie Currie and Jess Galvin) and the spread rose to double digits (28-17).
Pentucket led, 33-22 at the half.
“We hung in there with them for a while,” said Coach Robinson, “but we ran out of offensive gas.”
Credit the persistent Pentucket pressure with wearing down the team from the Middlesex League.
“Our main focus is defense,” said Jess Galvin. “Coach has said all four years that defense wins games and I agree.”
The Wildcats (12-9) were able to draw within ten (38-28) after Jenna Tavanese hit a three and made a free throw with 3:25 to go in the third quarter.
Thereafter it was all Pentucket.
“We gave up a lot of easy baskets in the first half,” said Coach McNamara, “we did much better defensively in the second half.”
Wilmington scored two baskets in the last minute of the game. Other than that, the Sachems turned their ten-point lead (38-28) into a 59-30 spread. That’s a 21-2 segment!
Jess Galvin (10 points) led the Pentucket surge. She had a beyond-the-arc three, an old-fashioned three, and a free throw.
“We work hard in practice,” said Jess. “Coach gets all the offenses and defenses that the other teams play, and we just execute against them. Coach always changes things up so that teams won’t know what’s coming.”
One of the key Pentucket defenders was junior Angelica Hurley. Angelica scored only two points but her defense on sophomore Kylie DuCharme (4 points) was significant.
“Angelica did a great job defensively,” explained Coach McNamara. “She sacrificed her offensive game to play defense like that. It is what you have to do in the tournament to advance.”
Coach Robinson: “We were hoping to keep this game in the 30’s and 40’s because then we could hang with them offensively, but it got out of hand for us.”
Jess Galvin: “I’m looking at UMass Amherst next year. I am going to try and play basketball there. I want to study sports business.”
Former Sachem Tess Noguiera was in the house. She was part of the Pentucket state championship team in 2012. From Pentucket she went to WPI where she was also on a championship team. She now works at Raytheon.
Good crowd. Bleachers were added to the bench side of the gym.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)