Tag Archives: Sarah Higgins

Pentucket defeats Sabis (55-32) to win the Division 3 state title

Pentucket Regional – 2012 Division 3 state champs

Sarah Higgins (22 points) heads for the hoop

(Worcester) Pentucket 55 Sabis 32

There was no denying Pentucket (23-4) this time around.  Same building two years earlier the Sachems lost in the state finals to Lee.

Pentucket led from beginning to end in this one capturing the Division 3 crown for the first time. The title game was one of six played on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.

The Sachems led from beginning to end thanks to a combination of distracting defenses and take-what-you-give-us offense.

Senior Sarah Higgins (22 points) had a huge game for Pentucket.  It seemed as if every time she wasn’t making a layup she was getting fouled.  She made her last eleven free throws in a row and totaled fourteen for the game.

Sabis (20-6) gave up the first six points and were down 20-10 after a Tess Nogueira layin with 4 ½ minutes left in the second period.

Jazmine Collins (10 points)

The Lady Bulldog tandem of Jazmine Collins (10 points) and Shyanne Wellington (10 points) kept Pentucket from turning this one into a rout.  The Sachem lead was 29-17 at halftime and 39-27 early in the final quarter.  The game seemed, at the time, far from over for the charter school from Springfield.

However, a Coley Viselli triple followed on an assist from Alex Moore and up went the team from West Newbury, 42-27, with 5 ½ minutes left.  A couple of drives later by Sarah Higgins and that lead was 46-29 with four to go.

Sabis was forced to foul the rest of the way and Pentucket cashed in nine times.  The final score was a misleading, 55-32.

Kelsi McNamara (14 points) finds an opening

Kelsi McNamara (14 points) connected on three long ones in the first half.  Equally impressive was the willingness of the 5-5 freshman to take the ball to the basket a couple of times.

The Sabis cause was hurt when Janaiya Sanchez went out with an ankle sprain for most of the second period.  The 5-7 freshman played in the second half but was definitely limping.  She has been on the Sabis varsity since 7th grade.

Jasmine Collins had several impressive coast-to-coast drives.  The Lady Bulldog junior started this season with over 1000 points.  The unpleasant memory for her in this one, besides the loss, could be making just one of eight free throws.

I always enjoy watching the Pentucket defense in action.  Against teams that don’t handle the ball well, down twenty usually happened in the first half.  Credit Sabis, they had girls (Jasmine and Janaiya) who could dribble the ball but they ran into trouble trying to find open teammates.

Inbounder Coley Viselli hit Sarah Higgins on a couple of deep fly patterns versus Sabis pressure.

Sabis won their first D3 West title ever this season.  They had won eleven straight games before this game.

Pentucket ended on a fifteen-game winning streak.  They will not be able to replace Sarah Higgins next season but they have many of their other key pieces back.

Pentucket boxscore

Sabis boxscore

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

Shyanne Wellington (10 points) defended by Leigh McNamara

Pentucket seniors head for trophy

rebounding action


Sachem coach John McNamara

Coley Viselli

Madison Sinkfield, Leigh McNamara, Jazmine Collins

tie up

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Sarah Higgins and Kelsi McNamara spark Pentucket past Fairhaven (53-39) in the state D3 semi-finals

Kelsi McNamara (10 points) lines up one of her 4th quarter triples


Sarah Higgins (20 points) layup

(Boston) Pentucket (22-4) secured passage to the state D3 finals on Saturday in Worcester with a solid second half  as they defeated Fairhaven (22-3), 53-39, on Tuesday at the TD Bank Garden.

Each team tallied just five points in a second period that may well have been impacted by a serious injury to Fairhaven starter Ashley Brown in the first quarter.  Ashley dove out-of-bounds for a loose ball and collided with the edge of the scorer’s table.  Considerable time was rightly spent by the numerous medical people on hand to take care of Ashley.  She was taken to Mass General.

The Sachems had a 19-18 lead after the sluggish second period and I had no sense of how the second half would go.

As it turned out, for Pentucket it went very well.  Their defense produced turnovers (six in the 3rd period) and Sarah Higgins (20 points) hit from the outside, inside, and from the foul line.  The Sachems actually took the lead for good (26-24 on a full-court Sarah drive at 4:54) with the advantage being 34-28 heading into the final quarter.

Kelsi McNamara destroyed any Fairhaven thoughts of a last-quarter rally with three long ones.  The first one gave Pentucket a 40-30 lead with 5:23 left.  The second one, on the next possession, built the Sachem advantage to 43-31 with five minutes left, and the third one kept the lead at twelve (48-36) with 2:45 to go.

Also in that final frame, Sarah Higgins continued to be productive.  She had an old-fashioned three, a layup, and a steal and a layup by the two-minute mark.  Sarah’s last score put this one out of reach, 51-38, with two minutes left and many reserves saw action the rest of the way.

Basketball is a team game and every coach knows the value of having players who get the ball to scorers.  Pentucket’s Alex Moore had four assists in the last quarter.  The 5-7 junior assisted Kelsi McNamara on all of her triples and also spotted Sarah Higgins in close for a layup.

Kara Charette (15 points) and Tess Nogueira

Kara Charette led Fairhaven with fifteen points.  The Pentucket full-court defense double-teamed Kara to try and keep the ball away from her.  That approach paid off especially in the final quarter when Pentucket earned point separation from the Blue Devils by holding the talented senior scoreless.

Pentucket scored the first seven points of the game (Sarah Higgins layup, Coley Viselli triple, and Tess Nogueira layup) but Fairhaven answered with six straight (Kay Mullen jumper, Ashley Brown fast break layup, and a Kara Charette converted rebound).

Coley Viselli (10 points) had three triples in the first half.  Kelsi McNamara had three in the final quarter.  Fairhaven did not connect from beyond the arc.

Tess Nogueira had four points and during the days leading up to this Saturday’s D3 finals in Worcester will probably be spending considerable prep time at the foul line.  The normally reliable free-throw shooter was an abnormal 2-for-11, including one air ball, against Fairhaven.

Pentucket had only six turnovers in the decisive second half.

Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown had already scored seven points before she was injured.  I overheard her coach say in the pressroom afterwards that Ashley usually averages fifteen points per game.  I suspect that many of the Fairhaven faithful will recall this game with, “What if Ashley…….”  I hope that the Blue Devil junior recovers fully for next season.

Two years ago Pentucket reached the D3 finals only to lose to Lee at the DCU Center in Worcester.  Maybe this time around things will be different.

Pentucket boxscore

Fairhaven boxscore

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

Pentucket team afterwards

Kelsey Perron-Sovik and McKenna Kilan

Pentucket celebrates

Fairhaven cheerleaders

Leigh McNamara and Kara Charette

tight defense

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Pentucket scoring runs get them past Ipswich (49-30) for the Division 3 North title

Pentucket Regional High School – Division 3 North champs

Pentucket seniors (Sarah Higgins, Tori Lane, Molly McDonough, and Leigh McNamara) head for the D3 North trophy.

(Lowell)  Pentucket did in Ipswich with two lengthy scoring runs and defeated the Tigers, 49-30, on Saturday morning at the Tsongas Center.

The Sachems’ (#3 seed) win gives them the Division 3 North title and a trip to the TD North Garden on Tuesday (4:15 PM) to face D3 South champs, Fairhaven, in the state D3 semi-finals.

Pentucket (21-4) rolled to 9-0 lead in Run #1 before Tiger senior Shannon McFayden hit a long one over four minutes into the first period.

A Julia Davis free throw midway through the second quarter had Ipswich (18-5) still in contention, 14-10.

There was no recovery, however, for the Tigers from Run #2.  This one lasted 4 ½ minutes, stretching into the third quarter, and totaled twenty unanswered points.  That’s right, twenty!  It put Pentucket ahead, 34-10, with plenty of second half left but certainly not enough time for Ipswich to make things interesting trailing by that much.

Coley Viselli sees an open lane

In the big run, Pentucket’s organized offense turned up five layups (Tess Nogueira two, one each from Coley Viselli, Alex Moore, and Sarah Higgins).  Coley had two free throws, and Sarah had a steal and a score.  The real dagger shots in this run were two Alex Moore three’s in the last thirty seconds of the first half.  Her last one was a prayer from in front of the Ipswich bench that was arc-less but went in on a line.

All this talk of Pentucket offense tells only half the story.  Their trapping defense was equally impressive during this segment forcing four Tiger turnovers and limiting open looks.

Julia Davis, Tiger’s top scorer, was injured just before halftime and didn’t play in the second half.  Julia slid off the playing surface chasing a missed shot to got a knee injury for her efforts.

Julia Davis – did not play in the second half

Minus their best rebounder and top scorer, the Tigers were severely handicapped in the second half.  However, the Tigers did put a couple of 4th quarter runs together.  One went for nine points and the other eight.

In the nine straight, there was a layup by Bridget Curran, two freebies from Shannon McFayden, and a long one from Natalie Soliozy.

The eight straight were all from freshman Masey Zegarowski.  She hit from all the scoring spots (triple, jumper, layup, free throw) putting on quite a show.

One of the best matchups late was the two team’s freshman starters (Kelsi McNamara and Masey Zegarowski) defending each other.  Those two should see a lot of each other over the next three years, I suspect.

The leading scorers for Pentucket were; Sarah Higgins (12), Alex Moore (10), Coley Viselli (9), and Tess Nogueira (8).

Masey Zegarowski paced Ipswich with eight.

Pentucket has now won thirteen straight.  Their opponent on Monday (Fairhaven) has won ten of their last eleven.  Fairhaven was the #2 seed in the D3 South.  They are 21-2 and from the South Coast Conference.

Credit the Ipswich student section for continuing to support their team long after the outcome was in doubt.  (I do not condone obscene chanting and never have.  Positive team support always sounds good to me.)

Pentucket boxscore

Ipswich boxscore

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

Natalie Soliozy shoots a three

Freshmen Masey Zegarowski and Kelsi McNamara

Brigid OFlynn defends

Bridget Curran gets two

loose ball

Julia Davis defends Tess Nogueira

Ipswich student section

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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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Pentucket wins 7th straight defeating Newburyport 49-30 in girls basketball

Coley Viselli (15 points) applies backcourt pressure to Molly Rowe.

Sarah Higgins (13 points) breaks away after steal

(West Newbury)  Pentucket defeated Newburyport, 49-30, on Monday night in a game that was settled in the third quarter.

The Sachems (15-4) scored the first fourteen points in that decisive quarter, helped by six Clipper turnovers, and Pentucket’s 24-17 halftime lead burst into a 38-17 rout with 2 ½ minutes left in that quarter.

The Clippers (11-7) put together a 10-2 run in the final quarter but had given up way too much ground in the previous quarter to pose any sort of challenge late.

Pentucket has now won seven straight and twelve of their last thirteen.  To say that they’re on a roll, is an understatement.  Their pressure defense forces opponents to be uncomfortable anywhere on the court.  Against the Clippers, their half-court offense looked very smooth.

Beth Castantini (10 points) shoots over Tori Lane

The Clippers/Sachems matched up in the season opener on December 12th in Newburyport. Pentucket won, 44-37.  In that one, Newburyport trailed by just two (35-32) with five minutes left.  The Sachems pressure defense worked but their poor long-range shooting kept the game close.

This time the Sachems kept the pressure defense (forced twenty turnovers) but took fewer long ones and instead took more drives to the basket.  Pentucket made fifteen baskets (other than free throws) and twelve of them were layups, another basket was a converted rebound, and the other two were three’s.

The Pentucket pressure gave Newburyport a lot of problems as expected but the killer for the Clippers was the early foul trouble of Lilly Donovan and Mary Pettigrew.  Both of them had four fouls, two minutes into the second half.

Coley Viselli breaks loose

It was no coincidence that with Lilly and Mary on the bench Pentucket’s five-point run, that started the third quarter, turned into a fourteen-point run.

The Pentucket points in The Run were; Leigh McNamara -free throw,  Sarah Higgins – two layups (assisted on one of them by Alex Moore), and Coley Viselli – layup, two free throws and a three assisted by Sarah Higgins.

The home team started fast jumping in front 14-5 after three minutes.  But credit the Clippers, they rallied back into contention (16-13) midway into the second quarter with a three by Beth Castantini from Lilly Donovan within the rally.

A jump shot by Meri Adsit (from Molly Rowe) with ten seconds left had the Clippers within range (24-17) at the half.

Last year the Clippers upset Pentucket (53-52) at Pentucket so the seven-point halftime deficit didn‘t appear insurmountable.  But six minutes of playing time later, that wasn’t the case.

Coley Viselli (15 points) led all scorers while teammates Sarah Higgins and Tess Nogueira had 13 points apiece.  The trio was solid on defense as well.

Aly Leahy defended by Alex Moore

Beth Castantini paced Newburyport with ten points while teammate Aly Leahy had nine points.

Pentucket has their last home game on Wednesday against Triton.

Newburyport will look to end their four-game losing streak at Amesbury on Thursday.  AHS coach Chris Perry just “happened” to be at the game tonight.

There was a rumor at the game that the gymnasium would soon be named after Al Gore.  Most of the folks there were hot under the collar by game’s end.

One of the referees gave NHS coach Gregg Dollas a warning (for friendly advice?) with two minutes left in the first half.  From long range, it sounded to me as if the referee told the scorekeeper, “Two minute warning on the Newburyport coach.”  That somehow sounded like football terminology to me.

The young lady singing the national anthem without a microphone gets an emphatic, “Wow!”

Pentucket boxscore

Newburyport boxscore

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

national anthem

Tess Nogueira fronts Beth Castantini

Sarah Higgins passes to Liza Brackbill

Molly Rowe drives baseline

Lilly Donovan tries to get by Sydney Snow

Meri Adsit shoots

Alex Moore

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Strong Finish Gives Pentucket Girls 2011 Provident Bank Tip Off Classic 44-37 Over Newburyport

Beth Castantini surrounded by three Pentucket players.

Game MVP Coley Viselli puts up layup in traffic.

(Newburyport)  Two of the best girls’ teams in the area opened the 2011-12 basketball season against each other in the Provident Bank Tip Off Classic on Monday night.

A strong final quarter gave the visiting Pentucket Sachems a 44-37 win over the Newburyport Clippers.

Pentucket (20-5 in 2010-11) predictably came at the Clippers in defensive waves all over the court and let the long ones fly with abandon on offense.  Sometimes it worked……….sometimes it didn’t.

After a fast start (3-for-5) Pentucket’s long ball accuracy vanished, as 2-for-16 the rest of the way would suggest.  But three minutes into the final quarter junior Alex Moore hit one and was fouled by Meri Adsit.  Alex completed the 4-point play to give the Sachems a 39-33 advantage.

Newburyport rallied nearly all the way back after trailing, 18-4, early in the second quarter.  Pitiful Pentucket shooting in the 3rd quarter (1-for-13) opened the door for the Clippers (5-for-9 shooting) to erase a 27-14 halftime deficit.  A Lea Tomasz three with two seconds left put this one in the “very interesting” category (31-29) with a quarter left.

Leigh McNamara (25) sails in for a first half layup.

As I said, Alex Moore hit a huge three in the final quarter but it was the Pentucket pressure over the final 5+ minutes that really did in the Clippers.  The pressure seemed to work best in the half-court as there were no turn-2’s (steal and get a layup) in the decisive final minutes.

Newburyport got within one (32-31) on a Lea Tomasz converted rebound and two (35-33) on a Beth Castantini jump shot with 5:40 left.

Plenty of time left and certainly close enough score-wise for the home team to pull the upset.

However, the Pentucket defense gave up only one point (Beth Castantini free throw) over the next 5 ½ minutes!  Molly Rowe hit a three with a few seconds left but by then, as they say in farm country, the cows had left the barn.

The shocking numbers for the Clippers during those game-deciding 5 ½ minutes were: one point in eleven possessions, eight turnovers, three shots in one possession and only one shot in the other ten.  Those are dream/nightmare numbers depending on which bench you were sitting on.

Speaking of nightmares, Clipper coach Gregg Dollas will probably remember this game for a while as one where he learned something about the numbers on his players’ uniforms.

Cady Bennett

As the game was about to start the Clippers were assessed a technical foul because Cady Bennett was in the scorebook as #14 but was wearing #21.  Coley Viselli sank both technical foul shots.

Later in the first quarter, Lilly Donovan was put in the game wearing #9.  Players can’t wear single digit numbers above 5.…….probably because officials can’t finger signal 6-9 without possibly confusing the scorekeepers.  Coley made one of the technical foul shots.

That’s three points, and in a close game like this one, they were a tough giveaway.

Coley Viselli was chosen MVP of the game.  Good thing they didn’t ask me.  I’d have given it either to teammate Sarah Higgins and her 16 points or to Alex Moore for her 4th quarter heroics.  Alex had the 4-point play and less than a minute before that had an old-fashioned 3-point play.  Those seven points were huge in this low scoring game.

Molly McDonough and Molly Rowe were given student/athlete scholarships afterwards thanks to Provident Bank.

A good crowd of Sachem support was on hand.

We saw the debut of a couple of Pentucket freshman – McKenna Kilian & Kelsi McNamara.

The Clippers will be able to count on points from seniors Beth Castantini (15) and Molly Rowe (11).  Bettering last year’s 13-7 record could well depend on steady scoring from other players.

Molly Rowe gets student-athlete scholarship from Coach Gregg Dollas.

Tess Nogueira and Leigh McNamara both spent time defending Beth Castantini.  Both players picked up their fourth foul in the final period.

The quickness and all-out approach of junior Meri Adsit was impressive.

Newburyport box score

Pentucket box score

(The pictures will enlarge to normal size if you click on them.)

Beth Castantini (10) & Leigh McNamara (25)

Coley Viselli – Lilly Donovan – Sarah Higgins

Tess Nogueira (32) & Mary Pettigrew (33)

Pentucket coach John McNamara

Beth Castantini

Meri Adsit (5) & Sydney Snow (3)

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Newburyport Gets By Pentucket 2-1 in Girls Soccer to Reach Quarter Finals

Carly Brand (11) heads the ball into the net past Pentucket goalie Sam Bomba.

Leigh McNamara had the Pentucket goal.

(Newburyport) The Newburyport Clippers defeated Pentucket, 2-1, in the First Round of the Division 2 North girls soccer tournament on Sunday afternoon at sunny Cherry Hill Field.

Carly Brand’s head-in on Hannah Martin’s direct kick, three minutes into the second half, proved to be the game winner.

The Clippers (14-2-3) face Belmont (9th seed – 10-4-3) in the Quarter Finals on Tuesday at 2PM back again at Cherry Hill. Belmont played at home last year as the #1 seed and took out the Clippers.

The Sachems (7-7-5) figured to be tired (they had beaten North Reading on the road the day before) and overmatched by Newburyport (the Clippers had defeated them 3-0 in October).  Someone forgot to tell Pentucket about this.

Down 2-0 early in the second half, the Sachems finally got a goal 32:20 into the half as Leigh McNamara was on the scoring end of a pass from Maddy Torissi in close to NHS goalie Lilly McNamara.

Unfortunately, for Pentucket they weren’t able to muster a serious threat thereafter.  They will probably wonder for some time about the disallowed goal (offsides) that was headed in at the twenty-minute mark.  Put that goal on the board with the Leigh McNamara goal and who knows what would have happened down the stretch.

Julia Kipp (2) and Jaycie Triandafilou (19) watch the shot of Liza Twomey go into the net past the PHS goalie.

Liza Twomey notched the Clippers’ first goal thirty-five minutes into the first.  Two things about the Newburyport forwards are that they are fast and persistent.  In this case it was “fast” that did the trick as Liza started about midfield with the ball and raced by the Sachem defenders for an open shot from the right on PHS goalie Sam Bomba.

Newburyport’s second goal featured probably the most dangerous player in the Cape Ann League taking direct kicks – Hannah Martin.  She can hit the ball hard and she’s usually going to have the ball be close to the net.  This time the direct kick came from just up from the corner kick flag to the right of the goal.  Carly broke for the far corner just as the ball was kicked and was in perfect position to head Hannah’s kick past Sam Bomba.

Once Pentucket fell behind they attempted to press the attack.  The Clippers ended up with some excellent scoring opportunities (Kerry Johnson & Jaycie Triandafilou) but defender Sarah Higgins and goalie Sam Bomba denied a third goal.

The weather was in the mid-50s with some wind.  The crowd was sizable although it was hard to tell when the crowd is relegated to one side.

This was only the second time I have been kept away from the goal line.  I probably would have missed Carly’s head-in if I had been located where I wanted to be.

Haley DesRosiers gets a yellow card.

Haley DesRosiers surprised me in the second half by giving Meghan Corbett a two-hander that dropped the Clipper captain to the ground.  Less surprising was the yellow card Haley got and the escort by the official to the sideline.

PHS coach Greg Scruton got in the way of a ball going out of bounds and put on a bit of a juggling show.  I’m told he was quite a player at Gordon College.

(I take my own pictures and collect my own information.  The mistakes are mine.)  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them to normal size.

Sam Bomba robs Jaycie Triandafilou

Kerry Johnson shot

Sarah Higgins & Liza Twomey

Alex Moore

Carly Brand

NHS cross over

Hannah Martin

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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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Rugged Defense and Streaky Offense Get Pentucket Girls Past Newburyport 41-28

Sarah Higgins (31) and Molly Rowe (12) are involved in one of the numerous collisions this highly-contested game produced.

(Newburyport)  On a night when their offense was anything but perfect, Pentucket continued perfect (3-0) with a, 41-28, struggle at Newburyport (1-2) on Monday night.

The Sachems in-your-face, full-court defensive approach paid its usual dividends in the early going.  For the first 10 ½ minutes the visitors forced thirteen turnovers and 2-for-13 shooting from the Clippers.

Pentucket tallied the first nine points (Vanessa Cahill-4, Nicole Viselli-5) before Newburyport answered with jumpers from Haley Johnson and Sam Leahy.

Alyssa Nogueira, Haley Johnson, and Nicole Viselli wait on a first half free throw.

The Sachems followed with ten unanswered points (Leigh McNamara-1, Tess Nogueira-2, Sarah Higgins-4, Alyssa Nogueira-3) and had the breakout lead (19-4) that they seem to get against most Cape Ann League opponents in recent years.

Newburyport trailed at the half, 24-11.

For seven minutes of the third quarter the Clippers mauled the Sachems defensively.  In a game of give-and-take they were dishing out the “gives.”  And Pentucket was clearly rattled.   The Sachems had only one point (Vanessa Cahill free throw) to show for twelve possessions with turnovers in seven of those possessions!

Sam Leahy paced the Clippers with 14 points including 12 in the second half.

But the Sachem defense during the same segment only allowed two Sam Leahy baskets.  So despite the stretch of bad offense, Pentucket still led 25-15 with 1 ½ minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

This game got away from Newburyport during the next two minutes of playing time.  Pentucket went on a 10-0 run and the Clippers didn’t have the scoring firepower or the time to recover.

Victoria Castiglione put in a three off the backboard and then Nicole Viselli took over.  In the last minute of the 3rd she hit a three and two free throws.  She started the 4th quarter by assisting on Leigh McNamara’s layup.

Later Nicole assisted on Tess Nogueira’s layup, followed with an old-fashioned three-point play, and closed with a free throw.  At this juncture, with 4:20 left Pentucket was up 41-19.  They didn’t score again and the Pentucket backups yielded the last nine points of the game.

Sam Leahy paced Newburyport with 14 points including 12 in the second half.

Nicole Viselli ended with 16 points and was very important in the second half after Newburyport closed to ten points.

Tess Nogueira (32) shadows Beth Castantini (10).

It was apparent early on that Pentucket was intent on denying Beth Castantini (18 points vs. Amesbury last game) the ball.  Tess Nogueira and Leigh McNamara combined to hold Beth to 4 points and believe me, things got pretty rugged in the process.

The shooting by both teams was anything but pretty.  Newburyport never made a three and ended up 11-for-51 (21%).  Pentucket was 3-for-14 on three’s and 13-for-58 (22%) overall.  The Sachems were also a scary 10-for-25 from the foul line.

I continue to think that the stat that makes Pentucket successful is turnovers.  I wonder when the last time was that they lost that battle.  This time Newburyport had 30 while Pentucket had 18.  However, despite the turnover disparity Pentucket didn’t get as many pick-layups out of the turnovers, as they generally do. Credit the willingness of Newburyport to get back fast, after a giveaway, for limiting breakaway Sachem shots.

There was a memorable moment in this game for me.  I was sitting under the basket scripting the game in the second half and occasionally taking pictures when I could.  A gentleman standing nearby yells to me that I can’t scout that way.  I try to ignore him because I’m trying to script the game so that I can write this game up for this blog.  I’m guessing he’s a Pentucket parent mistaking me for a scout for a future opponent (Masco? Ipswich?).  He did end up with the name of this blog but I didn’t end up with any sort of apology from him for his unnecessary outburst. Maybe after he reads this coverage I’ll get an apologizing email at 85peterjulie17 at gmail dot com.

(I keep my own stats, take my own pictures, and provide my own opinions.  Any mistakes are unintentional.)

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