PEABODY — It was Senior Night at Peabody High, with the fieldhouse brightly decorated with blue and white balloons to honor the six seniors on the squad.
Coach Jane Heil started an all-senior lineup — and they rewarded their coach and fans by quickly building up a big cushion en route to a 75-48 victory over a young Salem team.
It all started with a nifty backdoor layup by Carolyn Scacchi, who had a game-high 22 points along with seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, and rolled from there for the hosts.
“We couldn’t have had a better Senior Night,” said Peabody (12-4) head coach Jane Heil. “They went out and ran the plays to perfection; that backdoor layup by Scacchi set the tone.
“We don’t usually have five seniors on the court at the same time, but they’ve been playing together since they were in the fifth grade. I split them up, but when I put them back together again it worked so well. They kept their cool and took care of business from the first quarter on.
The Tanners had 10 different scorers, with Olivia Summit also in double figures (16 points, 6 rebounds). Sara Hosman chipped in with nine points, Courtney Bua had eight, and freshman Melissa Gray came off the bench to score seven points and finish with three steals. Amanda Matthews also had a nice all-around effort with three points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“Obviously, Peabody is a tough team for us because they are big and physical,” said Salem (4-10) coach John Fortunato, whose team has just one senior. “Basketball is all about matchups, and they give you so much to deal with because of their size. (Plus, Sara (Hosman) is such a good, solid point guard (who) adds a lot and is very unselfish.
Peabody went on a 9-0 run to take a 12-point lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter and increased it to 16 after a basket by Bua. The Witches scored the last five points of the quarter on a trey by Hannah Van de Stadt and a layup by Jaclyn Panneton.
Panneton (6 points) made another layup to open the second quarter and cut the deficit to nine. They got it down to seven after a 3-point bomb by Rachael Zipper, 24-17, but that was as close as they’d get. Peabody reeled off the next 10 points, including six from the foul line, as the Witches were found themselves in early foul trouble and the Tanners cashed in at the charity stripe. Gray hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer to cap a 7-0 run and give her team a 41-19 halftime lead.
“It was important for us to go out strong on Senior Night,” said Scacchi. “Everybody contributed and we played as a team. We have to continue to do that to be successful in the tournament. We knew we had a mismatch on this team, and we wanted to take advantage of it. I was able to hit some layups and Olivia did, too.”
Salem hit four treys in the third quarter, two by Tayla O’Leary, who had three in the game and one each by sophomores Brianna Rodriguez (10 points) and Nicole Sadoway (10 points).
“O’Leary had a good outside shot, and she was hitting it,” said Fortunato. “The best part about her is that she is a very hard worker.”
Heil went to her bench early and worked all her players into the game. She was pleased with what she saw as the Tanners moved the ball around effectively and even with a big lead kept the intensity up.
“For the second game in a row our ball movement in the offensive end was exceptional,” said Heil. “That’s really great to see. Olivia and Carolyn dominated the inside and hit their shots. It was a good night all around.
“his was an emotional game because it might be the last home game. We hope that’s not the case, but you never know.”