Category Archives: Swampscott

On to the D2 North finals for Pentucket after 52-28 win over Swampscott

Pentucket double-team

MacKenzie Currie had ten points off the bench for Pentucket

(Haverhill MA) Fouls were a problem for Pentucket in the first half but that didn’t prevent the Sachems from defeating Swampscott, 52-28, on Tuesday night at Whittier.

The win sends Pentucket (21-3) to the Division 2 North finals at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday to face the winner of the Tewksbury/Melrose game.

For part of the second quarter, Maddie Doyle was the only Pentucket starter on the floor.  Angelica Hurley, Angelina Yacubacci, and Jess Galvin each had two fouls while Liv Cross had an injury.

On this evening the Sachems reserves were crucial contributors.  “Z (MacKenzie Currie) gave us points,” said Coach John McNamara. “Anna (Wyner) covered their best player, and Arielle (Cleveland) was good on both ends.”

Angelina Yacubacci (15 points) between Nikki Rosa (15) and Sophia DiGrande (5)

Instead of Swampscott taking advantage of Pentucket’s foul woes, they instead fell behind, 15-5, after one quarter.

“Pentucket is a very, very tough team,” said Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard afterwards.  “We just couldn’t find the basket.”

The personnel for the Sachems may have changed but the effective defense didn’t.  Their full-court pressure often forced turnovers and hurried shots.

“Defense is what we focus most on in practice,” said senior Maddi Doyle.  “Everyone wants their chance to play run-and-jump.”

The Big Blue (16-6) were only down 26-16 at the half.  Make some shots and things could get interesting.

“I told the team at halftime,” said Coach McNamara, “that they had to settle down and play better defense.”  And that is what they did.

Maddi Doyle uses a Liv Cross screen

The starters applied their tight brand of defense with few fouls, while down the other end the points started to pile up.  Angelina Yacubacci (15 points) had a triple and two free throws while teammate Maddi Doyle added a layup and a triple to pace the Sachems in the breakaway third quarter.

That 10-point halftime lead bulged to 39-22 and the #1 seed coasted through the final quarter.

Coach Leonard: “Pentucket didn’t do anything we didn’t expect.  They just execute so well.  It’s one thing to know something is coming. It’s another thing to stop it.”

Maddi Doyle: “Surprisingly, I wasn’t in foul trouble.  I’m usually the first one on the bench with fouls.  Kids came off the bench and stepped up.  It shows the depth we have.”

Sophie DiGrande shoots against Liv Cross

Coach McNamara: “We were anxious at the start.  It took a whole half for us to be playing defense the way we wanted to. In the second half, we played defense without all the fouling.”

Arielle Cleveland: “Our team is deep.  I had more playing time and tried to contribute any way I could.”

Maddi Doyle told me after the game that she wants to go to the College of Charleston in South Carolina in the fall and study physical therapy.

Senior Grace DiGrande paced SHS with eleven points.

Sophomore MacKenzie Currie had ten points for Pentucket.

Swampscott’s Nikki Rosa is going to play basketball for Roger Williams next year.

Katie Watts is going to go to Endicott to play softball.

MacKenzie Kearney and Sophie DiGrande

The Big Blue reached the semifinals by defeating North Reading 49-47.  Nikki had nineteen points and twelve rebounds against the Hornets.

Maddie Doyle: “I would rather play defense than anything.  When we’re trapping it does things to other teams.”

The Sachems are three wins away from a state title. “We were so close (state semifinals) last year,” said Maddie.  “I want to just keep going forward.”

Pentucket box

Swampscott box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Angelica Hurley and Nikki Rosa

Angelica Hurley in the open

Anna Wyner guarded by Katie Watts

Jess Galvin

Katie Watts

loose ball

Maddie Doyle brings pressure to Sophie DiGrande

Sophie DiGrande tries to get the ball back from Angelina Yacubacci

Nikki Rosa and Angelica Hurley


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Pentucket gets by Swampscott easily (53-27) in Division 3 North semi-finals

Coley Viselli (19 points) shoots a three. She made five long ones.

Tess Nogueira (12 points) finds a way to the basket.

(Beverly)  No one expected a game like this.

Swampscott (18-4) was embarrassed by Pentucket, 53-27, on Thursday night at Beverly High School and now the Sachems move on to the Division 3 North finals on Saturday (10:30AM) at the Tsongas Center in Lowell against familiar Cape Ann League foe Ipswich.

The Big Blue (#2 seed) had won eight straight, won the Northeast Conference Small, and buried Stoneham in their previous tournament game.  None of that carried an ounce of weight versus the Sachems.  Swampscott shots were not falling and their zone defense could best be described as “porous.”

The game was certainly a lot easier for Pentucket (#3 seed) because Coley Viselli (19 points) was honed in from long range.  Who cares if one went in off the backboard (end of first quarter) and another took a high bounce off the rim and dropped in (start of the 4th quarter)?  All five that the talent junior made, counted.  Kelsi McNamara (8 points) hit two other triples.

Pentucket’s outside accuracy forced the Big Blue zone to stretch toward the perimeter and opened the inside for Tess Nogueira (12 points) and Sarah Higgins (9 points).

It took Pentucket a while to get going but Coley’s backboarded triple gave them a 7-6 first quarter lead.  They would never trail again.

Coley Viselli heads for the basket.

Coley hit her second three to start the second quarter.  Then she took a Big Blue turnover in for a layup.  She followed that with another triple assisted by Kelsi McNamara.  That was all in the first 1 ½ minutes of the second quarter and was part of an eleven-point run that extended the Sachems lead to, 15-6.

By the time the second quarter ended Kelsi had added her two long ones, Swampscott had eight turnovers, and they were in trouble at halftime, 25-12.

I was sure that the #2 seed was much better than what I had seen in the first half.  The local papers had stories about how big the rivalry was and also Niki Laskaris, who had twenty-six points against Stoneham, had only two points in the first half.

The Big Blue did make a response.  Niki had six points in the third quarter and her layup with 4 ½ minutes left cut the Sachem lead to 29-21.

Ara Talkov (11 points) gets to the rim.

But that was as close as it got.  Over the next six minutes of playing time, extending into the final quarter, Pentucket put a 14-2 run together and turned this game into a 43-23 rout.  Almost all the damage in this winning segment came on the inside.  Sarah Higgins (9 points) got three layups and Tess Nogueira one.  Tess also had two free throws.  And Coley drained her fourth triple.

The last 6 ½ minutes of the game were played by a fatigued and frustrated Swampscott team that on this day did not have the energy to make any sort of late challenge.

Junior Ara Talkov (11 points) and Senior Niki Laskaris (9 points) led the Swampscott scorers.

Pentucket (20-4) defeated Ipswich (Saturday’s D3 final opponent) 42-27 on January 24th at Pentucket.

The entire Ipswich team was on hand for the Pentucket/Swampscott game.  Late in the game, the Pentucket student section started chanting, “We want Ipswich, We want Ipswich.”  I’m not sure if they knew that the team they wanted was sitting to the left of them in the same section of seats under the basket.

Alex Moore, Tess Nogueira, and Sarah Higgins were all given medical attention during the game.  Alex was limited to two points.  With Coley on fire, Alex’s usual point production wasn’t needed by the Sachems.

Pentucket has now won twelve straight.

I’m not too keen on seating under the basket on both ends.  Okay, I’m selfish because that’s where I like to stand to take pictures. In this game I was forced off to the side.

Credit the Swampscott student section for hanging around for the entire game and enduring the “Scoreboard, scoreboard,” chant from the Pentucket kids.  Tougher still was the variation of “It’s all over,” that came out, “It’s a blowout,” as the Big Blue deficit reached twenty points.

Pentucket boxscore

Swampscott boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge if you click on them.)

Swampscott student section

Liza Brackbill in Swampscott traffic

Alex Moore defends

Niki Laskaris (9 points) floats in

Caroline Murphy looks for pass

tight defense

Sarah Higgins (9 points) steals

Kelsi McNamara (8 points) puts up a runner.

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