Sat, Mar 17, 2012
10:45 AM @
Sachems stifle Sabis, win Division 3 title
WORCESTER — This time, the Pentucket girls made absolutely sure that they would not be denied.
After falling short in the Division 3 state
championship game in 2010, the Sachems came back yesterday in rousing
fashion, overwhelming Sabis International of Springfield at the DCU
Center, 55-32, to capture their first state basketball title.
"It's surreal ... we're on cloud 9 right now," said
junior guard Coley Viselli, who played in that 2010 setback. "This is
so special, and it's nicer because it makes up for two years ago."
That defeat was on the mind of head coach John McNamara all week and he made sure his players knew about it.
"We talked about what happened and I think that made us more focused and ready to play," said McNamara.
The Sachems (23-4) were certainly ready defensively, just as they were throughout the tournament.
They shut out the Bulldogs (21-6) for the first
five minutes of the game, they kept them to less than 10 points in
every quarter, they forced 26 turnovers and they held 1,000-point
scorer Jazmine Collins to 10 points, seven less than her average.
"We felt that if we could contain her, make her
give the ball up, we'd be in pretty good shape," said McNamara.
"Defensively, we did just about everything we wanted to do."
Offensively, Pentucket was less consistent, but it
didn't matter. The Sachems scored the first six points of the game and
never trailed. Sabis cut the lead to two, 10-8, after the first
quarter, but a 10-2 run to start the second quarter put them
comfortably ahead to stay.
Two steals and baskets by Alex Moore got Pentucket
going in the second quarter and then freshman Kelsi McNamara, the
coach's daughter, took over, scoring eight of her 14 points in the
period, lifting the Sachems to a 29-17 halftime lead.
"Some of our other shots weren't making it and I
had to step up," said Kelsi, who had three 3-pointers and tied her
season high in points. "My teammates encouraged me to shoot and I
didn't want to have any regrets. I knew the seniors wanted this even
more than me and I wanted to do my part."
Coach McNamara was certainly happy to see his freshman take charge offensively.
"I wasn't looking at it as my daughter getting hot,
I was just glad somebody was stepping up," he said. "But that's been
the great thing about this team. Someone different has done it for us
offensively every game."
Kelsi cooled off in the second half, but that's
when senior Sarah Higgins took over, scoring 16 of her 22 points in a
brilliant all-around performance. She was 3 for 5 from the floor after
intermission and 10 for 10 from the free throw line and made three of
her four steals.
"It was one of my better games and it gives me one
of the best feelings I've ever had," said Higgins. "One of my goals was
to get back here and win it, and it shows what can be done through hard
Overall, the Sachems outplayed Sabis in every phase
of the game, including under the boards, which was supposed to be a
strong point of the Bulldogs. Pentucket, led by Tess Nogueira with nine
rebounds, and Moore, Higgins and Leigh McNamara with six, outrebounded
Sabis 35-31. Sabis had been averaging 47 rebounds a game.
Moreover, Sabis had been averaging 18 steals a
game, but Pentucket turned the ball over only 15 times, and four of
those came late in the game after the Sachems had cleared the bench.
For Sabis, junior Shyanne Wellington tied Collins
for scoring honors with 10 points, and led her team with nine rebounds
but, the way Pentucket dominated, one hardly noticed.
When it was over, the Sachems not only celebrated
with gusto, but they could feel a lot better not only about two years
ago, but about the shirts they wore to practice all year.
"Our saying, that was on the shirt, was 'Win the Last Game,' " said coach McNamara.
Simply the best
In five state tournament games, Pentucket:
— averaged 53.2 points and gave up an average of 31.4
— gave up more than nine points in only two of 20 quarters
— won every game by at least 19 points and, in the 19-pointer, it led by 26 points before the bench was cleared
Division 3 state final
at DCU Center, Worcester
Sabis (32): Shyanne Wellington 4 1-2 10, Jazmine Collins 4 1-8 10, Kelsie Jacobs 1 1-2 3, Casie Thurber 1 1-2 3, Madison Sinkfield 1 0-0 2, Janaiya Sanchez 0 2-2 2, Sherilyn Small 1 0-0 2, Mariah Pendleton 0 0-0 0, Alliyah Ferrara 0 0-0 0, Amber May 0 0-0 0, Dannie Vegerano 0 0-0 0, Natasha Caquias 0 0-0 0, Seneca Lee 0 0-0 0, Avalon Mateo 0 0-0 0, Chelsea Ako-Brew 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 6-16 32
Pentucket (55): Sarah Higgins 4 14-16 22, Kelsi McNamara 5 1-2 14, Coley Viselli 1 3-6 6, Alex Moore 2 0-0 4, Leigh McNamara 0 4-6 4, Tori Lane 1 1-2 3, Tess Nogueira 1 0-0 2, Sydney Snow 0 0-0 0, Liza Brackbill 0 0-0 0, McKenna Kilian 0 0-0 0, Sarah Wiles 0 0-0 0, Molly McDonough 0 0-0 0, Emily Dresser 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 23-32 55
3-pointers: S — Wellington, Collins; P — K. McNamara 3, Viselli