Tag Archives: Pentucket girls basketball

Pentucket defeats Watertown 38-24 to win Division 3 North title

Pentucket - Division 3 North champs

Pentucket – Division 3 North champs

Coley Viselli (15 points) fires from long range

Coley Viselli (15 points) fires from long range

(Lowell)  Some will call it great defense.  Some will call it very, very cold shooting.

Take your pick, Pentucket overwhelmed Watertown, 38-24, to win the Division 3 North title on Saturday afternoon at the Tsongas Center.

The Sachems will face Archbishop Williams (Braintree) at the TD Bank Garden on Monday in a state Division 3 semifinals battle.

Pentucket (24-1) was never behind against the Raiders (13-11).

After a 3-2 start (Kelsi McNamara three & Rachel Campbell layup), this game got away from Watertown completely over the next nine minutes of playing time stretching into the second period.

The Sachems ran off fifteen unanswered points and were ahead, 18-2, before Rachel Campbell made a free throw.

It is not unusual for Pentucket (#1 seed) to put runs of points together off of turnovers but that wasn’t the case here.  Simply explained: Pentucket made shots and Watertown didn’t.

Kelsi McNamara (15 points) hit a three on the first Pentucket possession

Kelsi McNamara (15 points) hit a three in the first Pentucket possession

The Sachem points in this run were spread around.  Kelsi McNamara (15 points) had a three and a floater in the lane.  Coley Viselli (15 points) nailed a three and two driving layups.  Alex Moore added a free throw and a layup.

Much of the credit for the nine-minute shutout goes to Pentucket’s half-court defense. The Raiders had little trouble in the backcourt because of point guard Gabby Coppola’s dribbling skills.  The frontcourt was a different story.  Watertown had very few good looks and had to settle for heavily-defended shot attempts.

Alex Moore and later Kelsi McNamara forced the Raiders top scorer (Gabby Coppola) to be a passer by denying her open looks from the outside and keeping the talented junior from driving.

There were six minutes of first half and the entire second half played after the 18-2 start, but on this day, Watertown couldn’t get enough stops or enough made shots to challenge the defending D3 champs.

looking for a rebound

looking for a rebound

The Raiders (#11 seed) actually “won” the last twenty-two minutes, 22-20, but it was too little, too late for Watertown.

The Raiders’ drought during those devastating nine minutes in the first half was so noticeable that the Pentucket student section cheered (insincerely) when Rachel Campbell ended the 15-point run with a free throw.

Kelsi McNamara hit two 3’s in the first three minutes and had ten of her fifteen points in the first half.  Her defense on Gabby Coppola, when Alex Moore didn’t have her, may have been more valuable than her point totals.

Coley Viselli connected twice from long range and was able to get to the basket three times on scoring drives.  The senior became a 1000-point scorer recently in a win over Division 1 Central Catholic.

Kelsi McNamara drives on Gabby Coppola

Kelsi McNamara drives on Gabby Coppola

Kelsi McNamara appeared fully recovered from the calf injury she suffered against Ipswich in the D3 North semifinals.  Kelsi went out in this game, with two minutes left, holding her elbow.

Alex Moore had short minutes after hurting her wrist falling during a drive to the basket in the first half.

As I mentioned earlier, turnovers were not a factor.  Pentucket had fourteen and Watertown ten.

The foul shooting by both teams was pitiful.  The Sachems missed five in eight attempts while the Raiders missed ten in fourteen attempts.

The Pentucket defense held Gabby Coppola to four points on 1-for-8 in field goal attempts.

You watch Pentucket play and wonder when their domination (93-11 over the past four years) will end.  Maybe not so soon.  Two sophomores start (Kelsi McNamara and McKenna Kilian) and in this game there were significant minutes for junior Sydney Snow, sophomore Sarah Wiles, and freshman Riley Holden.

Rachel Campbell and Riley Holden

Rachel Campbell and Riley Holden

Typical of Pentucket was a lack of jumping up-and-down and rushing the court after the win.  You could hardly tell afterwards whether they had won or lost!  I suspect that they’re saving that post-game excitement for the next game on Monday afternoon.

Rachel Campbell paced the Watertown scorers with seven points.

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

Coley Viselli gets in for two

Coley Viselli gets in for two

Sydney Snow (#3)

Sydney Snow (#3)

Gabby Coppola

Gabby Coppola

Pentucket coaching staff

Pentucket coaching staff

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St. Mary’s Holds On to Edge Pentucket Girls 62-60 in D3 North Semi-Finals

St. Mary’s celebrates their semi-final win over Pentucket.

(Wilmington)  The Pentucket girls took an excruciating exit in the Division 3 North semi-finals coming up just short in a 62-60 loss to St. Mary’s of Lynn on Wednesday night at Wilmington High School.

Kirsten Ferrari – 13 points

Cassi Amenta – key rebound and free throw in last minute

This was the third straight year that these two teams have met in the D3 North semis and the first time that the Spartans were successful.  They now move on to the Tsongas Center on Saturday where they will play the winner of the Stoneham/Ipswich game being played at Wilmington on Thursday night.

This game was tied (47-47) with five minutes left and you just knew it would be a close finish.  Actually St. Mary’s scored the next four points (layups by Cassi Amenta and Tori Faieta) and never trailed thereafter although the Sachems were a made shot away from overtime or a regulation win.

With the pressure mounting, Coley Viselli hit a three from the top of the key with forty seconds left and suddenly Pentucket was within one (57-56).

Tori Faieta (#32) hit two last-minute free throws

Tori Faieta followed with two free throws while Sarah Higgins made one and we had a two-point game (59-57) with twenty-nine seconds left.

Pentucket then gave the quick foul to freshman Sharell Sanders.  When Sharell missed, teammate Cassi Amenta got the rebound, got fouled and drained two free throws in what may have been the biggest sequence of this game, giving the Spartans a four-point cushion (61-57) with twenty-five seconds left.

Those free throws became real important when Coley Viselli hit yet another three, this time from the left corner to make it a one-point game again (61-60) with fourteen seconds left.

The Sachems followed with another quick foul and sent Kirsten Ferrari to the line.  Because Pentucket was over the limit she had two free throws.  She missed the first and made the second and so it was 62-60 with nine seconds left.

Coley Viselli (18 points) heads for the corner for this game’s last shot.

You knew the last shot would be Coley from somewhere.  She dribbled into the left-hand corner with Kirsten Ferrari guarding her and took what looked like a 2-pointer to me that wasn’t close to going in and the game ended in the scramble for the rebound.

The key for the Spartans was having experienced seniors (Kirsten Ferrari, Cassi Amenta, Tori Faieta) step up down the stretch.  Cassi’s offensive rebound of a missed free throw followed by two made free throws couldn’t have come at a better time for St. Mary’s.

Pentucket (20-5) now knows what St. Mary’s felt like the past two years when their season ended in the semi-finals.  With the nucleus Pentucket returns next season you’d like to believe that they could well be back in another D3 North semi-finals next season with more experienced players.

The Sachems had a classic good/bad first half.  In the first quarter they collected twenty-three points (23-16 lead) on ten-for-eighteen shooting with no turnovers.  In the second quarter, the same team scored only THREE points making just one-of-fourteen shots and turning the ball over seven times.

There is no way to explain how such a thing happens but I do know that it left Pentucket trailing, 29-26, at halftime.

St. Mary’s still had the three-point lead (41-38) after three quarters.

An early layup by Sarah Higgins (assist to Alex Moore) put Pentucket within one before consecutive three’s from Kirsten Ferrari and Sharell Sanders gave the edge to the Spartans, 47-40, 1 ½ minutes into the final quarter.

The Sachems rallied with seven straight (47-47) – Vanessa Cahill layup from Sarah Higgins, a 3-pointer by Coley Viselli off the backboard, and a Tess Noguiera layup.

This set the stage for the final five minutes which ended with the Spartans celebrating a trip to the D3 North finals.

The Spartans (21-4) had four players in double figures – Kirsten Ferrari (13), Tori Faieta (12), Sharell Sanders (11) and Brianna Rudolph (10).

sophomore Tess Nogueira (13 points) shoots over Cassi Amenta and Tori Faieta

Pentucket was led by Coley Viselli (18), including eleven in the final quarter, Sarah Higgins (14) and Tess Noguiera (13).

This makes two tough basketball losses in two days for Pentucket.  The boys bowed out to Newburyport on Tuesday night.  Ironically, in both games bad second quarters had a bearing on the losses.

( I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes happen……..unintentionally.)

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Pentucket Defense Overwhelms Watertown Girls 52-22 in D3 North First Round

Gabby Coppala (#10) defended by Vicky Castiglione (#20)

Vanessa Cahill blocks Casey Halle’s shot.

(West Newbury) We’ve seen it before in the early rounds of the MIAA girls basketball tournament.  A team from another conference gets to play Pentucket.  They know that the Sachems press but don’t have the time to get fully prepared.

Watertown (7-14) from the Middlesex League was Pentucket’s first round opponent this year and predictably found out the hard way what end-to-end defense looks like, losing, 52-22, on Monday night.

Pentucket will host Weston (14-7) on Thursday night at Pentucket in the quarter finals of Division 3 North play.

The visiting Red Raiders struggled to get the ball up the court and only the dribbling skills of freshman Gabby Coppala minimized the backcourt turnovers.

Sarah Higgins forces one of Watertown’s twenty-eight turnovers.

Even in the frontcourt, running an offense was difficult and Pentucket’s size discouraged layups and second chances.

It took Watertown 3 ½ minutes to score (Gabby Coppala layup) their first basket and another four minutes to score their second (Casey Halle) layup.

Meanwhile, Pentucket rang up twenty points.  They made six-of-seven free throws and had two 3’s from Coley Viselli.

Off to a 20-4 first quarter, Pentucket used the same formula (relentless defense) to put together a 15-4 second quarter.  Besides shutting down Watertown, the Sachems dominated the boards and turned up free throws (thirteen) by going to the basket and rebounding missed shots.

Sarah Higgins picked up seven points in the second quarter.

Pentucket led, 35-8, at the half.  This was a game begging for the Mercy Rule (softball) instead of a second half.  I overheard one couple from Watertown discussing whether they should stay for the second half!

Freshmen Sydney Snow (#3) and Liza Brackbill (#22) see some late-game action for Pentucket.

But they did play the second half and Pentucket played everyone.  The scoring highlight from the second half was an eleven-point run by the Sachems during the first 4 ½ minutes of the final quarter.  The scoring in this streak was provided by Alex Moore (layup), Coley Viselli (3-pointer), Sarah Higgins (layup & 2 free throws), and Tess Nogueira (2 free throws).

Sarah, Tess, and Coley all finished with eleven points.

Freshman Gabby Coppala (11 points) of Watertown was impressive.  The young guard was an excellent dribbler and passer in the midst of never-ending pressure.  Pentucket double-teamed her and tried hard to keep the ball away from her.

The statistics reveal the extent of the success of the Pentucket defense.  They forced twenty-eight turnovers, including seventeen in the first half when this game was decided.  The Raiders were 0-for-11 from long range and just 18% (9-for-50) overall from the floor.

Plenty of positives to take away from this one regarding Pentucket’s defense.

Their offense?  The stats from this game tell me that they’re going to have to get a lot better with the ball if they are going to go very far in the tournament.

Yes, they collected 52 points.  And yes, they played everybody.  But twenty-four turnovers!  That’s a lot of empty possessions against an undersized team that didn‘t trap.

Pentucket shot 20% (3-for-15) from long range and 30% (15-for-50) overall from the floor.  Plenty of high-percentage attempts didn’t fall.

Tess Nogueira free throw attempt

Free throw shooting was another problem area – 61.2% (19-for-31).  Tess missed six including one that didn‘t hit anything.

An area of strength was the offensive rebounding.  Vanessa Cahill and Tess Nogueira were terrific in this area.

Weston (14-7) is the next opponent and judging by their record I would expect a tougher game.  However, if Pentucket keeps bringing that terrific defense and sharpens their ball management and shooting they’ll be fine, I suspect.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I write my own captions and draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes are unintentional.)

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Pentucket Falls in State D3 Finals to Lee 56-42

Lee girls pose with D3 state championship trophy after pulling away from cold-shooting Pentucket in the last quarter.

(Worcester) Defense can only take a team so far.  They must light up the scoreboard to win.

Pentucket (26-1) went incredibly cold in the final quarter and it cost them as they lost the D3 state finals to Lee, 56-42, on Saturday morning at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Lee (24-1) neutralized Pentucket’s normal defensive advantages by using the same approach (pressure defense) nearly as effectively.

It was on offense that the Wildcats won the game.  Although Lee was only 15-for-47 (31.9%), and most teams don’t usually win shooting 31.9%, those numbers were good enough on this day because the Sachems were just 12-for-67 (17.9%).

However, despite all the subpar shooting, Pentucket was in contention even as late as two minutes into the last quarter. Sarah Higgins nailed a jumper to bring the Sachems to within a point, 39-38, and left the outcome very much in doubt. Unfortunately, after that, Pentucket connected on just 1-of-17 shots with three air balls in the mix.

During the fatal last six minutes, Pentucket’s ability to put together consistent offense vanished and their ability to control Lee defensively took a similar route.  While the Sachems struggled to score, the Wildcats put up points in ten of their last thirteen possessions (17-4 run) and had more than enough offense to win the state title.

Both teams played fullcourt defense and the exertion required executing it and reacting to it may have taken the shooting legs out from under the Sachems late.  Lee, on the other hand, had foul trouble in the first half and some of their players were benched and got some extra rest because of it.  That unwanted rest may have been given Lee the extra energy they played with in the late, game-deciding minutes.

Katie Eckert (15 points) chased by Emily Lane

Pentucket started the game slowly (trailed 11-4) despite forcing six turnovers in the first three minutes. Katie Eckert (15 points) tallied Lee’s first nine points with a couple of 3’s.

Behind 13-6, the Sachems rallied for seven straight into the start of the second period to tie the score with Ashley Viselli (19 points) getting the last points on a three assisted by Erin McNamara.

Pentucket’s best show of offense was late in the second quarter when they put up ten unanswered points to take a 27-21 advantage with two minutes left in the half.  Ashley Viselli scored five while sister Nicole had two free throws and Sarah Higgins hit a trey.

The Sachems had a 28-24 halftime margin.

When a team (Pentucket) has won 26 straight and leads at halftime, you can’t help but expect that they are on their way to a state title.  However, the Lee girls’ basketball program has more state championships (now seven) than any other athletic program in the state.  They had also reached the state semifinals in seven of the last eight years.  Point?  This team knows something about winning.

This year’s Lee team is a team with multiple point guards and that became important in the second half.  Lee ended up with only eight turnovers in the second half and, as a result, Pentucket had less success using their pressuring defense to limit an opponent’s opportunities on offense.

The Wildcats were able either to get to the basket or the foul line during  the regrettable (for Pentucket) final period.  Lee was 11-for-15 on free throws in the last quarter.

Tara Dooley (#22) defends Erin McNamara (#3)

Erin McNamara (4 points) faced a very good defender in Tara Dooley (9 points) but had shot attempts that we’ve seen her connect on as recently as the Archbishop Williams game (state semifinals – 28 points).  Versus Lee, Erin was 0-for-6 on 3’s and 1-for-14 overall.  To see how sad she was as the game slipped away had me hoping that someone got in her ear about the fact that no one player wins or loses a team game.

What a great run the Sachems had this season!  A quick look at their roster would suggest that this might not be the last time I’m writing about them in an MIAA tournament connection.

( All stats are unofficial. )

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