Tag Archives: Angelica Hurley

North Reading upsets Pentucket 41-36 to take D2 North title

North Reading wins D2 North title

Game over

Ali Grasso and Coach Bob Romeo

(Lowell MA) “Oh my goodness!”

Those were the first words that came out of Coach Bob Romeo’s mouth immediately after the game.

The excitement was understandable.

North Reading had just defeated Pentucket, last year’s state champs, 41-36, at Tsongas Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Winning the D2 North puts the Hornets (16-8) into the D2 state semi-finals against Foxboro on Wednesday (5:30PM).

The Hornets were behind by eight in the first half, took the lead for good in the third quarter, and held off a Pentucket rush in the last minute to get the win.

Angelica Hurley (20 points) hits a three with fifteen seconds left to get Pentucket within three points

“That last minute was the longest minute of my life,” exclaimed Coach Romeo.

North Reading had lost twice to Pentucket during the regular season and hadn’t scored more than ten points in any of the eight quarters played.

Lauren Sullivan (16 points)

“We were such underdogs,” said Lauren Sullivan (16 points) afterwards. “We were looking for revenge for the two losses.”

“These kids have been special all year,” said Coach Romeo. “We were down eight and looked like we couldn’t score in this game, but we kept going.”

An Anna Wyner reverse layup gave Pentucket the eight-point lead (14-6) five minutes into the second quarter.

Full-court defense by both teams limited the half-court structure for both teams. One-on-one basketball was the order of the day.

Angelica Hurley (20 points) carried the Sachems as far as she could. Angelica had eight points, including two three’s, as Pentucket took that eight-point lead.

Loose ball

Even with the lead, Pentucket was not playing well.

“We never got into synch,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara, “and that’s a credit to North Reading. Bob Romeo and his staff did a great job getting them ready. They deserved to beat us today.”

The Sachems’ defense created twenty-one turnovers, by my count, but most of them were in the front court. Pentucket is well known for turning miscues into quick points. But they didn’t have that going for them today.

Credit the ballhandling and passing of senior guard Ali Grasso for much of that. She saw the court really well today. When trapped, she’d find open teammates. Guarded one-on-one, she would bring the ball up without losing it.

Kiley McCarthy (12 points) guards Angelica Hurley

Pentucket had the eight-point lead but eight minutes of playing time later they trailed, 18-14. That’s twelve unanswered. The Sachems would never get the lead back.

Lauren Sullivan started the run of good NR offense with two 3’s in the closing 1 ½ minutes of the second period.

The Hornets’ streak of points continued with Ali Grasso setting up Nasha Arnold for a layup. Lauren Sullivan then had an old-fashioned 3-point play and Sarah Gerber added a free throw.

Angelica Hurley stopped the bleeding with a layup off a turnover, narrowing things to 18-16 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

The Sachems stayed within one-possession range until the end of the quarter when a free throw and a last-second, NBA-distance three by Kiley McCarthy (12 points) sent NR to a 27-21 edge.

Angelina Yacubacci and Nasha Arnold

Kiley’s triple was one of four she made on this afternoon. She had made two earlier but on several had missed everything. “I tried to get the ones I missed out of my head,” said Kiley.

That she did because the next points scored were yet another three by Kiley. This one went off the backboard and in. The NR lead was now a game-high nine points (30-21) with 6 ½ minutes left in the game.

You waited for Pentucket to put some defense/offense together and they did at the very end.

The Sachems started getting to the basket for layups in the final quarter but on this afternoon the Hornets had responses.

Lauren Sullivan shoots free throws to ice the win

NR was still up by eight (39-31) after Lauren Sullivan’s two free throws with 1:10 left.

Ali Grasso and Alyssa Thompson

A Mackenzie Currie layup followed and, after Ali Grasso missed the front end of a one-and-one, Angelica Hurley nailed a long 3-pointer. Pentucket was back within a possession with fifteen seconds left.

But North Reading was able to get the ball into Lauren Sullivan’s hands and she was fouled. The senior cashed two pressure free throws with ten seconds left and the Hornets had the win and the D3 North title.

“We came back but they made plays,” said Coach McNamara.

“I didn’t sub,” said Coach Romeo. “All five played thirty-two minutes. Lauren, Ali, and Kiley took turns making big shots.”

“It was an amazing team effort,” said Ali Grasso. “We worked so hard to get here. We scouted them. We came in so prepared.”

Scramble on the floor

Coach McNamara: “We didn’t seem to have a lot of energy. I don’t know why. We didn’t play our usual aggressive defense. We missed a lot of shots and we didn’t dribble very well. It was just one of those days. We didn’t play as good as we could, and they did…a recipe for a loss.”

Coach Romeo: “Credit to Pentucket. They’re state champs. They weren’t going to go away easy in this game. That last minute was the longest minute of my life.”

Kiley McCarthy: “I wasn’t going to let this be our last game. We’re a team. That’s how we won.”

Lauren Sullivan: “In the second quarter we knew we could do it. We just had to hang on. The five of us did amazing. We never stopped.”

Pentucket seniors

Pentucket will graduate four seniors. “They have won a state championship and been to Tsongas three times,” said Coach McNamara, “and they’re better people off the court than they are on it.”

Coach Romeo on being the underdog: “It’s a game. That’s why we play. Anything can happen.”

The MIAA. Who can figure them out? They decided that photographers should not be allowed in the area around the court until there was two minutes left. What were they afraid of? That we’d take pictures?? The result was that I ended up in the penalty box before I had even committed an infraction! But I digress.

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

Ali Grasso (7 points) and Anna Wyner

Ali Grasso and Abby Dube

Ali Grasso passes out of trouble

Angelica Hurley guarded by Lauren Sullivan

Angelica Hurley shoots a layup

Angelina Yacubacci introduced

Lauren Sullivan and Angelica Hurley

Mackenzie Currie defends

North Reading captains

On the floor

Pentucket ending

Sarah Gerber sets a screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pentucket starts fast and holds off Wilmington later getting 45-37 D2 North semi-final win

Angelica Hurley (12 points) splits two Wildcats on her way to the basket

Angelica Hurley was ten-for-twelve from the foul line including two in the closing minute

(Lawrence MA) Free throws.

Pentucket (22-2) made enough of them (13) in the second half to survive, 45-37, on Wednesday night against comebacking Wilmington.

The D2 North semi-finals win puts the Sachems into the finals on Saturday (2PM) against North Reading at the Tsongas Arena.

The Wildcats could well have been considered overmatched after falling behind by nineteen (28-9) in the first half.

You score one point (!) in a period and you can leave that sort of impression.

Pentucket coach John McNamara wasn’t fooled: “Even when we were up at halftime, we knew they’d come back. They have scoring power and can knock down shots.”

Kyle Ducharme (13 points) was a force in the second half

As good as the Sachems were in the first half, the Wildcats nearly matched them in the second half.

“We weren’t playing in synch in the first half,” explained Wilmington coach Jessica Robinson afterwards. “We needed to play like a team.”

Getting Kylie DuCharme (13 points) back on the court after foul trouble in the first half really helped Wilmington. Kylie required special defensive attention and prevented Pentucket from trapping other Wildcats very often. The junior could also get to the basket and make shots.

The Sachems 21-1 segment in the first half was answered by the Wildcats with a 15-1 segment of their own in the third period.

Liv Almeida had a pair of three’s and teammate Kylie added a triple to two layins in Wilmington’s run of great offense.

Alyssa Morrison from the corner

Before you knew it, Wilmington was within five (31-26) with plenty of game left.

Twice in the final quarter, the Wildcats (17-6) would get within one possession: 35-32 & 36-33. But they could never get closer.

The defending D2 champs have been in close games before and were able to respond enough to get the W.

“We lost our composure,” recalled Angelina Yacubacci (10 points), “but we got it back at the end.”

Pentucket had only two field goals in the entire second half but both came after Wilmington closed to 36-33 with five minutes left.

MacKenzie Currie into the lane

One of the Pentucket field goals was on a runner in the lane by Arielle Cleveland. The other had Angelina Yacubacci finding a way through traffic to get a layup.

A Kylie DuCharme layup narrowed things to 41-37 with 1 ½ minutes left.

The Sachems were extremely deliberate with their next two possessions. Wilmington was forced to foul.

Angelica Hurley (12 points) and MacKenzie Currie each made both of their pressure-packed free throws in the last forty-nine seconds and Pentucket was on their way to Tsongas.

“We’ve worked on free throws a lot in practice,” said Angelica Hurley. “The practice sure paid off.” Angelica made ten-of-twelve free throws.

“They went to the line and hit their free throws, and that was the difference in this game,” said Coach Robinson. “We didn’t get to the line.”

Ball on the flour

“Somehow we regrouped late in the game because we sure were rattled,” said Coach McNamara. “We made some foul shots and hung on for dear life.”

The Sachems ability to drive and draw fouls was a key to this win. The fouls kept a dangerous player such as Kylie DuCharme out of action for part of Pentucket’s big first-half run.

“We knew that we could get to the foul line if we drove,” said Coach McNamara. “That was crucial for us.”

Anna Wyner: “Wilmington is a great team. We were expecting them to come back and they did. We were strong enough to pull this game out. Coach Mac often tells us that free throws can be the difference in a game.”

Angelica Hurley draws a foul on Liv Almeida

Angelica Hurley: “I could only get one 3-point shot off, so I was focusing on getting free throws. I play AAU ball with Kylie DuCharme and Jenna Tavanese. They are very talented. I love playing with them and against them.”

Coach Robinson: “Our offense goes through Kyle (DuCharme).”

Angelina Yacubacci: “We weren’t getting 3’s tonight. We got here pretty early to shoot.”

Coach McNamara: “We weathered the storm barely. They’re a good team. We’ll take a one-point win over them. It doesn’t matter. It was a game of two runs. Luckily, we had more of a cushion than they did.”

Wilmington used to be in the Cape Ann League. Now they’re in the Middlesex League.

Pentucket will face North Reading also of the Cape Ann League for the third time this season in the D2 North title game on Saturday.

Pentucket box

Wilmington box

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

Angelina Yacubacci

Game end

First half turnover for Wilmington

Hannah Lambert

Jenna Sweeney

Angelina Yacubacci chased by Annie Wingate and Kylie DuCharme

Anna Wyner – last minute defense

Jenna Tavanese

Jenna Tavanese guards Greta Mauer

MacKenzie Currie drives against Kylie DuCharme

Sachems look for a turnover

Wilmington defense surrounds Angelina Yacubacci

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pentucket holds off Masco 44-42 after eleven lead changes

A strong final quarter by Angelina Yacubacci helped Pentucket hold off Masconomet

Mak Graves led Masco with 16 points

(West Newbury MA) Masco led by nine after one period.

Pentucket led by one at the half.

Masco led by seven after three periods.

Pentucket led by two at the end (44-42).

Back and forth it went all night long.

There were eleven lead changes with at least two in each quarter.

It was anyone’s game right down to the last shot by Mak Graves (16 points).

The Sachems (19-1) played with fire in the last eleven seconds and didn’t get burned.

Pentucket had the ball with eleven seconds left and a two-point lead.

Angelica Hurley inbounds pass attempt was intercepted by Paige Richardson.

“I was so scared to throw it too far that I didn’t throw it far enough,” explained Angelica post-game.

That put Masco in possession and very quickly Mak Graves had the ball in her talented hands and she was stepping back beyond the arc.

Mak steps back beyond the arc

“My heart stopped, I’m not going to lie,” said Anna Wyner.

“I was petrified,” said Coach McNamara. “I thought she was going to pull up and shoot a three. They had the ball in their best player’s hands and that’s scary. I was happy when she drove because a two would let us keep playing.”

“It was nerve-racking with her at the 3-point line,” said Greta Mauer, “because you don’t know what could happen.”

Angelica, who had thrown the bad pass reacted quickly. “I knew that I had to play defense (on Mak Graves) and get the ball back,” she said.

When Mak stepped back, Angelica stepped forward to discourage a 3-point attempt.

Angelica Hurley steps out to discourage a 3-point attempt

Mak chose, instead, to drive baseline. The Pentucket defense closed on her and her shot missed. Angelica was there to secure the rebound and the game ended.

Mak decides to drive

Angelica secures the final rebound as the game ends

A collective sigh of relief and disappointment followed from both sides.

Liv Fillmore (11 points) shoots over MacKenzie Currie

Senior Angelina Yacubacci carried Pentucket down the stretch after she was a foul magnet early and spent much of the game on the bench.

“When she finally got in, she was a difference maker,” said Coach McNamara.

Angelina scored all her points (eight) in the final quarter.

In that productive quarter, Angelina got to the basket three times without charging and made two free throws.

On one of her missed free throws in the last thirty seconds, she stole the ball from the rebounder (Paige Richardson) to continue the Pentucket possession.

Tonight was Masco’s last game in the Cape Ann League and they played very well.

The Chieftains (11-6) took charges on the hard-driving Sachems and made shots early.

Seven straight points (Liv Fillmore three, Mak Graves jumper and layup) had Masco ahead 13-6 with 2 ½ minutes left in the first quarter.

MacKenzie Currie (15 points) takes a shot in the lane

Pentucket recovered nicely in the second quarter. Masco was held scoreless for the first six minutes while the Sachems put a ten-point run together. An old-fashioned 3-point play by MacKenzie Currie (15 points) started Pentucket on their comeback. Senior Hannah Lambert hit a triple and a fast-break layup. Abby Dube finished the run with a jump shot assisted by Alyssa Thompson.

The Sachems held a 22-21 halftime lead.

The Chieftains limited Pentucket to only five points in the third quarter and scored the last five points to create a 34-27 advantage after three quarters. Mak Graves hit a jump shot and assisted on Liv Fillmore’s 3-pointer to account for the closing surge.

The Sachems were down seven, but Angelina Yacubacci came to their rescue. “We played as a team in the 4th quarter,” she explained. “Each of us seems to take turns getting into foul trouble. We support each other from the bench even if we can’t be on the floor.”

But Angelina was now on the floor.

After a MacKenzie Currie jumper in the lane, Angelina sent MacKenzie away on a fastbreak layin. Angelina then twice successfully drove to the basket. Masco’s lead was now gone and Pentucket was up by one (35-34) with 5 ½ minutes left.

Masco stopped the bleeding with a Mak Graves layup and retook the lead.

Arielle Cleveland layup

Back came the Sachems. Angelina assisted on an Arielle Cleveland layup and MacKenzie followed with a drive to the hoop. Those scoring plays gave Pentucket the lead for good, 39-36, with 3:40 remaining.

Masco would get within two twice in the closing minute but Pentucket made enough plays to save the win.

“Give Masco credit,” said Coach McNamara. “They fought hard.”

The Sachems have now won sixteen straight. Last loss? To Masco, 56-51, at Masco.

“We’ve been preparing for this game ever since we lost to them,” said Anna Wyner.

Angelica: “We’re excited to win on Senior Night. We knew it would be a tough game. They are a very good team. Mak Graves kept me from doing a lot of things with her defense.”

Jenna DiPietro surrounded by Sachems

Coach McNamara: “It was really nice to beat them in their last CAL game. They have lost five games in the league this year which is a testament to how strong this league is.”

I asked the four Pentucket seniors about their college plans:

Angelica: I am going to St. Joe’s. I thought at first that the campus was too small but the coach there has been very encouraging. He came to our North Reading game which was important to me. I intend to go into the nursing program.”

Angelina: Not sure exactly. Probably somewhere local like Bridgewater State, Endicott, Keene State or UMass Boston. Won’t be playing basketball. I want to go into business.”

Anna Wyner: My top two choice are UVM and UNH. I am interested in the medical field. I have an interest in being a physician’s assistant.”

Hannah Lambert: “I want to study nursing. I am looking at Fairfield and James Madison.”

Full house at Pentucket for this game and they saw a beauty!

Pentucket box

Masco box

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

Angelina Yacubacci forces a turnover

Cally McSweeney

Greta Mauer

Hannah Lambert’s layup

Mak Graves guards Angelica Hurley

Maria Lantzakis draws a charge on Anna Wyner

Paige Richardson

Pentucket seniors honored

 

 

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Angelica Hurley hits game winner in last second as Pentucket defeats Tewksbury 36-34

Pentucket players mob Angelica Hurley after her game-winning basket

Good shot of the referee. Not so good of Angelica’s winning basket.

(Tewksbury MA) Everyone had a beef with the referees.

Pentucket coach John McNamara, coaching against the school he graduated from, questioned many calls.

Tewksbury coach Mark Bradley couldn’t believe Alli Wild’s go-ahead free throw was negated by a lane violation with 8 seconds left.

And me? In comes Angelica Hurley for the buzzer-beating winner and the referee intrudes into the special shot.

Angelica’s last-second shot was indeed the game winner as Pentucket escaped with a 36-34 victory over Tewksbury on Sunday afternoon.

“We struggled,” said Coach McNamara afterwards. “We didn’t shoot the ball well at all.”

Kati Polimeno and Angelina Yacubacci

The teams were quite familiar with each other having faced off in the D2 North finals at the Tsongas Arena eleven months ago.

The Sachems (18-1) took that one, 56-45, and went on from there to win the D2 state title. Today’s victory runs their winning streak to fourteen. Last loss was to Masco on January 3rd.

“They’re a tough team to play against because it’s hard to simulate their style of play in practice,” explained Coach Bradley. “We had a game Friday night so there was little time to prepare.”

Tewksbury (9-10) was down, 19-10, but recovered.

“We took their aggressiveness and used it to our advantage,” said Coach Bradley recalling how his team fought back to leave with a 19-19 tie at halftime.

Alli Wild blocks Angelica Hurley’s layup attempt

Of the Redmen’s comeback, Coach McNamara said, “We missed three’s, there were long rebounds and they were off to the races in transition.”

In this game, Tewksbury didn’t give up backcourt turnovers and were quick enough to get back on defense after missed shots. They also had shot-blocker Alli Wild in their defense.

Alli not only blocked several Sachem layup attempts but she didn’t foul doing it.

“We knew about her (Alli Wild) from last year at the Tsongas,” said Coach McNamara. “Her defense is special.”

The Redmen ran the last nine points of the second period. Pentucket, meanwhile, didn’t score a point for the last seven minutes of that same second period.

The Sachems, however, started the second half with six straight points. Two free throws by Angelica Hurley and two inside shots by Arielle Cleveland (15 points) sparked the visitors.

Arielle Cleveland (15 points) benefited from some great feeds from teammates

One of Arielle’s scores came after teammate Angelina Yacubacci drove into the lane and drew Arielle’s defender over to help defensively. A quick pass from Angelina gave Arielle an uncontested shot.

“Angelina sees those passing opportunities very well,” said Arielle post-game.

Pentucket was still up by six (33-27) after Angelina once again set up Arielle for a layup in the first minute of the 4th quarter.

But the home team refused to go away. “I’m proud of our girls,” said Coach Bradley. “We competed and battled even when we were down.”

The Redmen scored the next seven points. Julia Cafferty had two free throws in the surge of offense. Lexi Polimeno (9 points) was the big spark. The junior drained a three and later hit a runner from the side to push Tewksbury in front for the first time in the game, 34-33, with 1:43 left.

Next possession Pentucket got a point back after MacKenzie Currie made one-of-two free throws.

Both teams failed to get anything in their next possession.

Tewksbury had the ball and a timeout with twenty-one seconds left. Carefully they worked the ball around before Alli Wild was fouled with 8.8 seconds remaining.

Alli made the free throw……….but then it didn’t count. Why? Because she had violated the lane. I assumed that this meant that she had stepped on or over the line. My pictures indicate that neither happened. (Enlarge them for a better look.)

This unfortunate (for Tewksbury) turn of events gave Pentucket possession with a full court to cover in eight seconds.

Lexi Polimeno (9 points)

“We wanted to set a high ball-screen and let Jelly (Angelica Hurley) come off the screen and create,” said Coach McNamara.

“I was looking for someone open but when I saw #15 (Alli Wild) jump up in the air I went for the layup,” recalled Angelica.

The shot went up and in. Then the buzzer sounded. There was a pause, the referees agreed that the shot beat the buzzer, and then the Sachems celebrated.

Coach McNamara: “Tewksbury is a very good team from a tough conference (Merrimack Valley Conference). It was a nice win, but we’ve got some things to clean up.”

Arielle Cleveland: “On that last play I was supposed to set a screen on Jelly’s defender. Angelica and Angelina are great teammates. I feed off their energy because they bring it every single game.”

Coach Bradley: “John (McNamara) does a phenomenal job. Year after year he runs his successful system. John has ties to Tewksbury, and I know his family here. He offered to play here, and we want to play good basketball teams at the end of the season.”

Angelica Hurley (13 points)

Angelica Hurley: “Tewksbury is a very good team. Fifteen (Alli Wild) is very talented. We’re heading into the state tournament in two weeks.”

Today’s game was an “endowment” game. That means that all the stats count but winning or losing will not influence placement in the state tournament.

Pentucket box

Tewksbury box

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

Alli Wild (12 points) guarded by MacKenzie Currie

Angelica Hurley fouled by Julia Cafferty

Angelina Yacubacci

Greta Maurer guards Alli Wild

Julia Cafferty

Julia Cafferty looks to pass

Katie Polimeno defends Angelina Yacubacci

Kati Polimeno unguarded

MacKenzie Currie and Alli Wild

MacKenzie Currie shoots free throw

Maddie Stovesand

Maddie Stovesand and MacKenzie Currie

 

 

 

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Pentucket overwhelms Newburyport 58-24 to clinch CAL Kinney Division

Lana Mickelson (32) and Deidre McElhinney (4)

Angelina Yacubacci (16 points)

(West Newbury MA) It doesn’t happen every game but when it does…..watch out!

Pentucket was excellent on both ends of the court and that put Newburyport on the wrong end of a  58-24 score on Friday night.

Combined with a Masconomet loss, the Sachems (17-1) clinched their sixth straight Cape Ann League Kinney Division title.

“Our girls came out with a ton of energy and played great defense,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

The Clippers (9-6) ended up with a night full of tough shots and turnovers.

Pentucket mustered only thirty-eight points in the first meeting (January 20th) with Newburyport.

“Last time was a different style of game,” explained Coach McNamara.  “They controlled the tempo with their 1-2-2 halfcourt defense.  This time our defense got us going offensively.”

Sami Cavanaugh tries for control

The Sachems had thirty-six points in the first half alone and were comfortably ahead, 36-15, at that time.

The Clippers had won three of their last four games including a shocker over Masco.

Tonight, the score was tied (4-4) after three minutes before Pentucket began putting everything together.  On this evening, the visitors had no answers.

The Sachems ran nine unanswered points together and never looked back.

In this breakaway segment, Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) assisted on an Arielle Cleveland jump shot and a Hannah Lambert triple.

Angelica Hurley (11 points)

The nicest play in this collection of points was an Arielle Cleveland save of a ball going out of bounds that ended up with an Angelica Hurley (11 points) 3-pointer.

Pentucket was ahead, 13-7, after one quarter.

The Sachems put a 23-point second quarter together.  Freshman Abby Dube (12 points) had two beyond-the-arc three’s and one old-fashioned three in the high-scoring quarter.

“I tend to think a lot when I shoot,” explained Abby post-game.  “Tonight, I was just playing and having fun out there.”

Abby’s twelve points were a career high for her.

Most of the night the Clippers had trouble getting to the basket as well as getting the ball inside to their tallest player, Abby Gillingham.

“MacKenzie Currie didn’t score a lot tonight but what a job she did against Abigail (Gillingham),” explained Coach McNamara.  “She’s a good scorer but she may have had only one basket tonight because of MacKenzie’s defense.”

Abby Gillingham with MacKenzie Currie defending

MacKenzie tallied eighteen points in the first meeting.  Tonight she had only four points but her defense on Newburyport’s top scorer was crucial in Pentucket’s victory.

The Clippers had twenty-six turnovers (by my count) and some of the miscues quickly led to Sachem layups.

“We got them rattled early,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “We made some shots and fed off our defensive energy.  We got a lot of transition baskets.”

Pentucket has now won thirteen straight.  Last loss was to Masco on January 3rd.  Those two teams will meet again at Pentucket next Friday night.

The Sachems, with just one loss, have the best record in Division 2 North.  Another D2 school, Marblehead, was 16-2 going into tonight.

Sadie Vandenberg

Newburyport (9-6) is just a win away from qualifying for the post-season.

“Newburyport is a good, young team,” added Coach McNamara.  “They are going to be very good.”

Coach McNamara has now won 296 games in his 14+ years directing the Sachems.  If Pentucket takes care of their final three regular-season games, that memorable 300th win could happen in the first round of the D2 tournament at Pentucket.

Abby Dube: “Playing with seniors and juniors is scary but really fun.  At first I was terrified but eventually I got comfortable.”

I continue to be impressed with the Pentucket band.

Pentucket box

Newburyport box

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

Terrific Angelica Hurley pass to Abby Dube

Abby Dube (12 points) and Anna Affolter

Abby Gillingham tries to block Angelina Yacubacci’s shot

Anna Affolter at the line

Anna Wyner and Sami Cavanaugh

Hannah Lambert

MacKenzie Currie

Jackie Doucette and MacKenzie Currie

Leah Metsker

Makenna Ward

MacKenzie Currie

Newburyport coach Karen Grutchfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pentucket struggles in 57-50 win over non-league Notre Dame Academy (Hingham)

Angelina Yacubacci (22 points) puts up a floater

Neither team backed down

(West Newbury MA) Both teams were aggressive and neither team backed down.

The result?  A whistle fest.

Pentucket (7-1) took the lead for good midway through the third quarter and survived non-league Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), 57-50, on Saturday night.

The visitors were within two points (51-49) with 1:17 left but the Sachems (7-1) dominated the rest of the way. A beautiful interior pass by freshman Abby Dube set up teammate Mackenzie Currie for a layup, boosting the lead back to four. After a NDA free throw (Ava Orlando), senior Angelina Yacubacci (22 points) surrounded a Cougar turnover with foul-producing drives.  Angelina sank all four freebies and the defending D2 champs had a victory.

“It was a good win,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards, “but we’ve got some things to work on. Our defense needed to get better.  We’re fouling too much.”

Angelica Hurley in the lane chased by Ava Orlando

“We did not do a good job of containing the drive,” explained Notre Dame coach Nicole Orlando.

Pentucket shot thirty-five free throws and the Cougars twenty-six.

There was hardly a possession that didn’t earn a whistle for something, because the teams also combined for thirty-five turnovers to go along with all the fouls!

The teams were tied at 8-8 with a minute left in the first quarter.  At this point Pentucket put a 13-2 run together that stretched into the second quarter.  Their 21-10 lead threatened to take the suspense out of the final outcome.  Five different Sachems contributed points as their dangerous pressure defense kicked in.  Hannah Lambert had a three in the collection of Pentucket points.

Megan Reading and Haley Roberts tie up

Some teams fall apart when the Sachems put a run of points together……..NDA wasn’t one of them. The excessive fouling started to hurt the home team.  The Cougars went to the foul line seven times and made six of them.  With Pentucket cooled down, their big lead vanished and NDA tightened things to 23-22 in the closing seconds.

At this point, Angelina Yacubacci fired the beyond half-court buzzer beater that seldom goes in……..but this time it did.  Pentucket had a four-point lead (26-22) at halftime.

Notre Dame (5-2) was able to take the lead in the first two minutes of the second half.  A rebound basket by Ava Foley and a layup off a Pentucket turnover put NDA in front, 29-26.

The defending champs in trouble?  Not for long.

Megan Reading (33) puts up a shot

The Sachems headed toward the basket on almost every possession thereafter and when they didn’t score, they did get free throws.  Pentucket put seven unanswered points together and three minutes later they were in front, 34-29.  A key possession for the Sachems in this successful sequence was when an offensive rebound led to a corner three by Alyssa Thompson.

Pentucket led the rest of the way but the Cougars were never far away.  They were within one point several times but Pentucket had answers.  Rebound baskets.  Floaters in the lane and free throws kept the Cougars from actually catching up.

The Sachems depth was crucial in the end game.  Coach McNamara was able to have his starters on the court in the closing minutes.  Coach Orlando had three starters (Ava Foley, Haley Roberts, Ellie Hilsabeck) foul out.

Impressive for NDA was senior Kristin Barrett.  Kristin ended up with eighteen points including eight in the first five minutes of the final quarter that had the Cougars only trailing, 48-46.

Kristin Barrett (18 points) chased by Abby Dube (23) and Lana Mickelson (32)

“Notre Dame has always been a good team,” explained Angelica Hurley post-game, “especially #13 (Kristin Barrett). We always struggle to contain her.  She’s really fast.”

“We kept them in the game with our fouling,” said Coach McNamara. “There was no flow to the game as a result.”

Angelica Hurley: “We definitely need to work on our gap defense.  We do it well in practice, but it doesn’t show in the games.  We also can’t get frustrated with each other.”

Coach McNamara: “We have been playing Notre Dame for thirteen years.  Somehow their coach and I started talking and we ended up playing them. They now have a new coach, but I hope we can continue to play them in the future.”

Coach McNamara had daughters play for him a while ago.  Coach Orlando had her seventh-grade daughter playing for her tonight.

Ava Foley covered by Angelica Hurley

“You have to focus on the game and not on your kid playing,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “Coach Orlando’s daughter is pretty good for a 7th grader.”

“It’s exciting to have your daughter play for you,” said Coach Orlando.  “We don’t put a lot of emphasis on it.  I don’t coach her differently.  She is very poised for her age.”

A first for me tonight: Both coaches thanked me for covering the game.

Junior Arielle Cleveland injured an ankle on Friday night during Pentucket’s win over Triton.  Could be out a couple of weeks.

Notre Dame box

Pentucket box

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

Abby Dube

Abby Dube (23) and Angelica Hurley (24) try to trap Kristin Barrett

Alyssa Thompson at the line

Alyssa Thompson leads a break

Notre Dame coach Nicole Orlando

Angelica Hurley shoots over Ellie Hilsabeck

Angelina Yacubacci and Haley Roberts get tied up

Anna Wyner defends

Julia Foley (4) defends

Lana Mickelson at the line

 

 

 

 

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Pentucket advances to D2 North semi-finals with 61-34 win versus Wilmington

Kylie DuCharme brings the ball up the court against Pentucket pressure

Maddi Doyle guards Jenna Tavanese

(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.”

Jenna Tavanese (2) paced Wilmington with fifteen points.

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.

Full-court pressure by Pentucket.

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.

Jess Galvin (10 points)

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.

Gabby Bond gets a shot

“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.

Cassidy Collins defends

“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.”

Maddi Doyle under pressure

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.

Pentucket box

Wilmington box

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

Angelica Hurley, Kylie DuCharme, Jenna Tavanese

Angelica Hurley with a steal

Anne Wingate (10)

Arielle Cleveland in the open court

Double-team by Pentucket

Kylie DuCharme finds Gabby Bond (44)

Tight defense by Angelica Hurley on Kylie DuCharme

 

 

 

 

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Masco avenges earlier loss downing Pentucket 56-43

Morgan Bovardi (17 points) on the move

Rebound battle

(Boxford MA) Masco coach Bob Romeo told his team afterwards, “if you play the way you did tonight you can play with anyone in Division 1 North.”

Hard to disagree after seeing his D1 Chieftains dominate Pentucket in the second half and take a 56-43 win on Friday night.

The Sachems (17-3) have the best record in Division 2 North.

Masco (15-5) lost to Pentucket in January (39-27) but played with much more poise this time around.

“We knew what this team (Pentucket) was capable of doing,” said Mak Graves (19 points) after the game.  “We practiced hard to be ready for them.”

In the first meeting, Masconomet took a 17-11 lead into the second half and then stumbled through a 10-point second half.

Mak Graves (19 points) gets away from Maddie Doyle

This time around Pentucket had a 21-18 lead at halftime and it was the Chieftains pleasing the home crowd with a 38-point second half.

With the scored tied, 26-26, three minutes into the second half, Mak Graves took over.  The flashy junior put a jump shot, a three (from Cally McSweeney), and two free throws together.  Pentucket had just a free throw (Angelica Hurley) during this three-minute segment.  Masco had separation, 33-27.

The game was far from over.  Early in the 4th quarter two free throws and a Jess Galvin three (from Maddie Doyle) had the Sachems down four, 39-35.

Later, a layup by Angelica Hurley (15 points), a free throw (Anna Wyner), and a three by Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) and Pentucket was within one possession, 44-41, with 3:50 remaining.

Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) chased by Marissa DeLucia and Sara Fogarty

On this evening, Pentucket couldn’t stay close down the stretch.

“We were outplayed in the second half,” explained Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “We just didn’t have the legs to shoot the ball and defend at the end.”

Pressure games, tight games, always seem to come down to free throws in crunch time.

After an Olivia Filmore jump shot on an inbounds play started the final 3:50, the Chieftains paraded to the foul line twelve times.  They made ten!  “We made our free throws when we had to,” said Coach Romeo.

The Sachems had just two made free throws (in four tries) during the final 3:50.

That 14-2 finish for Masco was enough to give Pentucket a rare loss.

“Hats off to Masco,” said Coach McNamara.  “They are aggressive on this court and a tough team to beat.”

Marissa DuLucia covers Angelica Hurley (15 points)

Morgan Bovardi had seventeen points for Masconomet.  In the first meeting, Morgan was in foul trouble early and had a 3-point night.

Having both Mak Graves and Morgan on the court most of the night enabled the Chieftains to handle Pentucket’s non-stop pressure.

“You have to make plays against Pentucket because they play such great team defense,” said Coach Romeo.  “They won’t give you anything easy.”

Coach Romeo: “Jenna DiPietro, Olivia Filmore, and Paige Richardson made important contributions in the win.”

Paige had ten points and ten rebounds.

You had to think that it might be Masco’s night when in their first-half struggle to score points they were able to bank in two 3-pointers.

“We got some breaks early when those bank-three’s went in but it was a good sign,” Coach Romeo said.  “It loosened everyone up.”

In bounds play

Take those two shots away and Masco is down by nine at the half instead of three.

Both teams had surprising losses recently against teams they had defeated soundly in first meetings.  For Pentucket it was Notre Dame (Hingham) and for Masco it was North Reading.

But that’s why we show up to games; you never know what will happen.

The Chieftains honored their two seniors (Sara Fogarty and Marissa DeLucia) before the game.

Pentucket box

Masco box

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

Sara Fogarty

Anna Wyner in for two

Jenna DiPietro

Liv Cross

Mak Graves (19 points) gets loose

Marissa DeLucia

Morgan Bovardi (17 points) floats one up

Olivia Filmore guards Angelina Yacubacck

 

 

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Pentucket holds off Amesbury 50-48

Angelica Hurley (12 points) looks for an opening

Flannery O’Connor (16 points) guarded by Arielle Cleveland (11 points)

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury was ahead 20-7 after 5 ½ minutes.

Pentucket was ahead 26-24 seven minutes later.

“It was back-and-forth a lot,” said Angelica Hurley afterwards.

That back-and-forth thing took time to materialize in the early going but in the final 2+ quarters it happened often.  Seven ties.  Eight lead changes.

In the end, it was Pentucket (14-1) making the big shots, at the line and from the floor, and turning defense into offense, that carried them to a tough 50-48 win on Tuesday night over Amesbury (12-2).

Pentucket coach John McNamara

Pentucket has the best record in Massachusetts in Division 2.

“I’m proud of our girls,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos after. “We hung in there.  Pentucket is a good team.”

The Sachems took the lead for good (47-45) on a Liv Cross layin with 2:25 left.

Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) had a steal and made two resulting free throws a minute later to stretch the Sachems advantage to 50-46.

Freshman McKenna Hallinan (7 points) answered with a layup to close the gap to two with 1:04 left, but the Indians (12-2) couldn’t complete the comeback in their two possessions thereafter.

Turnover

“It was a great high school girls’ game,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “We knew they were good coming in.  They have maybe two of the best players in the Cape Ann League.  Amesbury will be a tough out in Division 3.”

The Indians got off to a tremendous start.  Shots were falling and uncontested layups were showing up.

Senior Flannery O’Connor (16 points) dominated the 20-7 getaway with twelve points.  She had four layups, a free throw, and even a three.

“They were clearing out for her,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “We had to adjust.  We did everything we could in the second half to keep her from getting good looks inside.”

Flannery O’Connor guarded by Megan Reading

The adjustment worked because Flannery saw multiple defenders in the second half and ended up with just one free throw.

The other noticeable defensive effort was Maddie Doyle covering Alli Napoli.  Significant size difference but Maddie kept the athletic Alli from direct routes to the basket.  Alli had one full-court layup in the 2nd half.

How did Amesbury stay with Pentucket in the second half if Flannery and Alli weren’t putting up points? Solid man-to-man defense and terrific rebounding.

The Sachems had only one rebound basket the whole game – Arielle Cleveland at the very end of the first half.

“We wanted to stop fast breaks and second-chance points,” explained Coach Dollos.

The Indians led 24-17 at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter.  The next three minutes?  All Pentucket.  While the Indians were defended into five turnovers, the Sachems put nine unanswered points together to take their first lead, 26-24.

Liv Cross (9 points) lines up a free throw

Maddie Doyle and Angelina Yacubacci finished the nine-point comeback with 3’s.

I thought at the time that this might be the beginning of a long evening for the Indians, but I was wrong.  Amesbury began to answer with points and “back-and-forth” was what we witnessed the exciting rest of the way.

Pentucket made 3-of-4 free throws in the end game.  “Free throws are always important,” said senior Liv Cross.  “Every coach I’ve ever had always says that these kinds of games come down to free throws.”

Ciara Sullivan gave Amesbury a quick 43-38 lead with five straight points to start the final quarter.  Back came Pentucket, however, with two Angelica Hurley layups and two Liv Cross free throws.  It was all part of that back-and-forth thing.

Amesbury had twenty-three turnovers and Pentucket nineteen.  The 3-minute collection of five of them in the second period may well have cost Amesbury the game.  Credit the Pentucket defense.

Coach McNamara: “The way we started we could have given up, so I give credit to our girls for recovering.”

Ciara Sullivan lines up a three

On Maddie Doyle guarding Alli Napoli: “She gave away about two feet but she’s scrappy and tough.”

On Angelina Yacubacci’s steal late in the game: “She’s a very smart defensive player.  She reads passes and lanes very well.  Her steal was huge.”

Coach Dollos: “Foul trouble hurt us.  I’m happy with what we did.  Losing isn’t fun but I’ll say we played pretty well.”

Things to work on: “We needed to move the ball better to get it inside.  We also could have used better shot selection at times.”

The best assessment of the game belonged to Coach Dollos, “It easily could have gone either way.”

Angelica Hurley had twelve points for Pentucket and teammate Arielle Cleveland added eleven. Alli Napoli collected ten points for Amesbury.

The victory extends the Pentucket winning streak to eleven.  Only loss was to Westford Academy.

The Amesbury defeat stops their win streak at eleven.  They had an early-season loss to North Reading that I covered.

Liv Cross on next year: “I got into Northeastern the other night.  It’s my top school but expensive.  Nursing is what interests me.  I might go to UMass Lowell because I got into their nursing program.”

The intensity of the two coaches spread into the stands.  It seemed as if every whistle was challenged by the side whistled against.

Amesbury box

Pentucket box

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

Plenty of contact

Mary Bullis defends

Turnover

Angelica Hurley eyes the hoop guarded by Flannery O’Connor

Arielle Cleveland (11 points) looks to pass

 

 

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Pentucket hits eleven 3’s in 68-44 win over Newburyport

Angelina Yacubacci applies the D to Sami Cavanaugh

Angelica Hurley had twenty-one points for Pentucket including four 3’s

(West Newbury MA) The Pentucket defense always catches your eye.

There are times when you’re sure that the Sachems must be using extra players because of the way they double team opponents.

Tonight their defense was good but 3-point shooting was even better as they defeated Newburyport, 68-44, on a very cold Monday evening.

Pentucket (12-1) has now won nine straight and have the best record in Division 2 North.  Swampscott is the only other D2 North team with one loss, but they’ve only won eight games.

Newburyport’s first-year coach Karen Grutchfield saw Pentucket in person for the first time. “They’re too good if we’re not smarter on each possession.”

The Sachems had good offense going from the get-go.  They jumped ahead 8-2 and ran that lead to 19-9 with two minutes left in the first quarter.  By then Pentucket had already drained three 3’s and they added another triple before the quarter ended and led, 23-9.

The Sachems would edge further ahead (36-18) at the half.

Abi Gillingham (11 points) gets two for Newburyport

The first two minutes of the second half settled the outcome.  Three different Sachems dropped three’s while at the same time NHS was held scoreless and had two turnovers.

Angelica Hurley (21 points) had the first triple after the possession was kept alive with two offensive rebounds.

Next it was Maddie Doyle assisted by Angelina Yacubacci.

Finally, Arielle Cleveland joined the 3-fest assisted by Angelica Hurley.

Those two minutes of long-range accuracy combined with shutdown defense extended the Sachem lead to 45-18.

“I give Newburyport credit,” said Coach John McNamara after the game.  “I thought that they out-hustled us in the second half.”

Center-court battle between Katie Hadden and Maddie Doyle

The Clippers (6-5) did put a nice run of ten unanswered points together at the end of the third quarter.  Both Katie Hadden and Anna Hickman (14 points) had multiple baskets during this stretch.

“The reason we won tonight was because we played together as a team,” explained Angelina Yacubacci afterwards.  That teamwork showed itself on defense as the Clippers had little space even to attempt 3-point shots.  The telling statistic was that Pentucket made eleven 3’s while Newburyport didn’t get any.

Coach Grutchfield: “It took us a while to get acclimated to what they were doing.  We have to be smarter with the ball and make better decisions.  I think that we can compete with them if we play better.”

Coach McNamara: “It’s human nature to let up.  We were up-and-down in the second half which isn’t always going to cut it.  We need to be more consistent.  We’ve got some work to do.”

Angelina Yacubacci (22)

Angelina: “We need to work on executing our offense better.”

Coach McNamara regarding all the made three’s: “I don’t know if they’re a good thing or a bad thing.  Maybe we’re settling too much?”

Angelica Hurley paced Pentucket with twenty-one points, including four three’s.

Jess Galvin had sixteen points with eleven of them in the breakaway first quarter.  She also had four triples.

Anna Hickman led Newburyport (14 points) and teammate Abi Gillingham added eleven points.

Kelsi McNamara (St. Joe’s) was in the house.

Bob Melillo (North Reading) and Bob Romeo (Masco) were also in the house looking at future opponents.

Newburyport box

Pentucket box

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

Megan Reading (33) and Sadie Vandenberg (22) look for a free throw miss

Meg Winn guards Angelina Yacubacci

Pentucket defense gangs up on Meg Winn

Angelica Hurley drives past Maggie Pons

Casey Snow (11) heads for the hoop

Greta Mauer (14)

Jess Galvin had eleven points in the first quarter

 

 

 

 

 

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