(Lynn MA) “Beating Pentucket, I’m pretty excited about that,” said Medfield coach Mark Nickerson afterwards.
And who could blame him.
Pentucket, now 20-2, is the defending D2 state champs.
They had won seventeen straight games.
But the Warriors (17-2) held off the Sachems, 47-42, on Monday night to win the Division 2 Spartan Classic and end a long (17-games) Pentucket win streak.
This was a one-possession game (44-42) with thirty seconds left and Pentucket had the ball.
During most of this game, Medfield’s length and their zone defense severely disrupted Pentucket shot attempts close to the basket. The Warriors were tall enough inside that they discouraged as many inside shots as they blocked.
Both Angelina Yacubacci and MacKenzie Currie put up game-tying attempts through a host of tall defenders in the closing minute but neither shot fell.
Kate Olenik & tourney MVP Kayla McNeil then combined for three free throws to give Medfield the 47-42 win.
Lillie Cumming (13 points) and Annie McCarthy (11 points) led the Warriors in scoring.
Angelica Hurley (15 points) and Angelina Yacubacci (12 points) paced Pentucket.
Fatigue was likely a factor in the Pentucket loss. The Sachems rely on a high-energy defense and have a short bench. Playing at that pace for two straight days is tough.
Medfield pressed early but spent most of the game in a half-court zone defense. That approach kept them out of foul trouble and required less exertion.
The Sachems had a 17-13 lead after an Angelina Yacubacci layup and one MacKenzie Currie free throw four minutes into the second period.
The next seven minutes of playing time were a complete disaster for the team from West Newbury. They didn’t score a single point while Medfield added fourteen in a row!
Shots weren’t falling for Pentucket and there were six turnovers mixed into the unproductive minutes.
Medfield ran the last seven points of the second period and the first seven points of the third period without an answer from Pentucket. When the Sachems finally recovered, they were down by ten (27-17) 2 ½ minutes into the second half.
Lillie Cumming had a three and a rebound basket during this unanswered run of points and teammate Annie McCarthy hit a jump shot and took a Pentucket turnover in for a layup.
Being down ten in the second half is very unfamiliar territory for Pentucket but they found the energy to cut their deficit to one, 28-27, over the next three minutes.
It was four straight Hannah Lambert free throws and two Angelica Hurley triples that did the trick for Pentucket
Despite the impressive comeback, the Sachems could never make the big shot or get the big stop to get even with Medfield.
Pentucket was within three (39-36) with three minutes left when Kayla McNeil nailed a back-breaking triple. The shot clock was being counted down by the Warriors bench and Kayla hurriedly fired away. The shot-clock buzzer sounded as her shot got into the net and Medfield was back up by six.
Triples by Angelina Yacubacci and Angelica Hurley followed surrounding two clutch free throws by Tess Patry.
The teams went into the final minute with only two points separating them (44-42) but Medfield escaped with the win.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” recalled Coach Nickerson, “but we overcame them at the end.”
Medfield is out of the very tough Tri-Valley League.
The Warriors are in the Central Division and the only place a rematch with Pentucket could happen would be in the state D2 championship game.
Medfield won the D2 title in 2013.
“We’ve been trying to prove ourselves all year long,” said Coach Nickerson. “We’re still doing it but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”
The Warriors have now won nine straight.
Pentucket had won the previous two Spartan Classics with a win over Groton-Dunstable last year and Arlington Catholic the year before.
Angelica Hurley had twenty-five points in Pentucket’s opening round win over Wilmington. She had six 3’s in that one.
Traditionally the tourney MVP comes from the team that wins the championship. Angelica added more three’s this afternoon and probably deserved the award…….but I digress.
Medfield’s only losses have been to Norwood (18-1) and Medway (17-2).
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)