The Masconomet girls basketball team has had its way with most of its opponents this winter.
More often than not, the Chieftains ran away with the victories. They’re a confident group of players, stringing together 19 straight wins.
Their one exception came in the final game of the season to another Division 1 North powerhouse— Lynn English. The loss, Masco’s only one of the season, came earlier this week in the St. Mary’s Spartan Tournament. The Chieftains have accepted it and moved on from it, only focusing on how they can learn from it.
The Chieftains, who earned the No. 3 seed in Division 1 North, will square-off against Cambridge in the first round on Wednesday (7 p.m.) for the second straight season. Last year Masco made it by the Falcons in a close, 64-62 contest. However, the Chieftains are coming off their best regular season in six years and are looking to continue their dominance into the postseason.
”One of the takeaways from that loss to English is that we’ve been able to identify what we didn’t do well down the stretch,” explained Masco head coach Bob Romeo. “While it was a tough loss, it was a learning experience for us.
”I tracked every possession in the final 4:30 of the game, we figured out what the flaws were and have been working on them at practice.”
Masco has relied heavily on its starting five — Hannah Kiernan, Nicole Femino, Meghan Collins, Lexi Nason and Kate Kitsakos this season. Freshman Stephanie Mini has played significant minutes off the bench and has developed into the team’s go-to post player. Junior Amy Fogarty has also managed key minutes and has a knack for hitting clutch three-pointers in pivotal moments throughout the games.
With Kiernan and Femino leading the offense, the Chieftains have scored over 70 points on five different occasions during the regular season and is averaging 61.8 points per game. Masco should have no trouble scoring against Cambridge.
”Our offense comes from our defense,” noted Romeo. “Cambridge doesn’t have that go-to scorer like they did last year with Donnaizha FountainSome, but there are some new kids for them. They’re athletic and can defend well. If we can defend equally as well and get our running game going, we should be OK.”
If they can get by Cambridge, the Chieftains have a chance to potentially play Andover in the quarterfinals. Romeo made note that since his team has moved up to Division 1 five years ago, the past four years have ended with Masco losing to a Merrimack Valley team in the tournament. Last year they fell to Billerica in the quarterfinals, the year before that it was a loss to Andover at Tsongas Arena in the North final.
Also in Div. 1, Peabody finds itself on the same side of the bracket as Masco. The Tanners (15-5) earned the seventh seed overall and will host Reading on Tuesday.
The Tanners won five of their last six games of the regular season, including a monster, 76-47 victory over Chelmsford in the Woburn tournament earlier this week.
”If we can put together a game like we did against Chelmsford, we’ll be good,” said longtime Peabody head coach Jane Heil. “We were playing at our peak against Chelmsford. If we can do that for four quarters, we have a good shot.”
For the majority of the Tanner players, this will be just their second time making a tournament appearance. Many of them had the opportunity last year, but lost to Methuen — this time they’re aiming first playoff victory since 2010.
Carolyn Scacchi, who leads the area in scoring (14.9 ppg), has had a stellar second-half to her season. Scacchi along with sophomore point guard Sara Hosman, freshman Melissa Gray and senior Olivia Summit will handle the majority of scoring duties.
In Division 2, Hamilton-Wenham finished out the regular season 15-5 and has earned its second straight trip into the tournament. Previously, the Generals hadn’t made the playoffs since 2005, but second year head coach Jon DeMarco has reinvented the program.
The fifth-seeded Generals will host Stoneham on Wenesday (7 p.m.) and are looking for their first tournament win since 2004.
They’re led by a senior captains Haley Willis, Sam Charette, Suz Rose and Catherine Ecker along with fellow senior Leslie Bynum. H-W plays stingy defense, which could create a problem for many teams in its bracket.
Marblehead is making its first appearance in the tourney since 2012. Under first year head coach Wayne Hanscom, the Magicians have manages a 12-8 record overall, good enough for the ninth seed and will head to Newburyport for a matchup on Tuesday (7 p.m.).
Look for senior Emily Freedland and junior Mia Bongiorno to make an impact for Marblehead, along with senior McKenna Barrett and freshman Lindsay Walker.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Danvers (11-9) was dealt the 11th seed and has its hands full against last year’s reigning Division 3 champion Pentucket. This is the Sachems’ first season in Division 2 and have been on fire as of late.
The Falcons are a team you don’t want to underestimate, though. They’ve battled through injuries all season long to make it this far and could be considered one of the sleepers in Division 2.
In Division 3, Bishop Fenwick finished off its regular season at 13-8 and on a four-game win streak. The Crusaders earned the fifth seed in the bracket and will have a bye in the first round. They’ll face fourth seeded Lynnfield a week from today in the quarterfinals.
Fenwick captured the Patton Tournament championship after defeating Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday and has sent the Crusaders in the right direction heading into the playoffs.
”Hamilton-Wenham is better than most of the Division 3 teams will see, with the exception of St. Mary’s,” said head coach Adam DeBaggis. “It’s a great game for us to have had going into the tournament.”
If the Crusaders get by Lynnfield, they could potentially see St. Mary’s (19-2) in the semifinals. The No. 1 seeded Spartans took down Fenwick twice during the regular and are the clear front runners in Div. 3.
Sophomore Colleen Corcoran, who has played herself into the Crusaders’ top scorer, will play significant minutes in the playoffs. Senior captains Kate Lipka and Gianna Pizzano will also play an intricate role in Fenwick’s tournament success.
On the other side of the bracket, Ipswich earned the 11th and final sport in the Div. 3 North bracket. The Tigers (9-9) clinched a tourney berth in the final game of the season and will face off against Cape Ann League rival Manchester Essex on Tuesday (7 p.m.).
Bridget Curran, Jenna Gagnon, Jordan Morrissey and Jackie Gagnon’s playoff experience from last year will come in handy with so many new faces on the roster this season.
Moving into Division 4, North Shore Tech managed to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2011. The 13th seeded Hawks (10-9) will play at Mystic Valley on Wednesday (7 p.m.).
Peabody senior captain Carolyn Scacchi is nine points away from becoming just the sixth player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.
Scacchi ended the regular season with 298 points on the year for a total of 991 in her career. The 6-foot-2 center has a chance to hit the milestone mark on Tuesday in the first round of the tournament against Reading.
”She makes everyone on our team better,” said Peabody head coach Jane Heil. “Since she has raised her level of intensity, so has everyone else.”
Here’s a look back at the who else hit the mark for the Tanners; Kristen Foley (1982), Kim Foley (1985), Jen Webster (1993), D’yana Delpero (2003) and DeAnn Larrabee (2003).
Congratulations to Masconomet’s Hannah Kiernan and Nicole Femino for being named co-MVPs of the Cape Ann League. Femino (13.7 ppg.) and Kiernan (13.2) are the team’s leading scorers and rank in among the top three in steals, rebounds and assists.
Bounce Passes, a column on North Shore girls basketball, runs in The Salem News every Friday during the winter season. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORING LEADERS Name, School Games Played Points Average 1. Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody 20 298 14.9 2. Nicole Femino, Masconomet 20 275 13.7 3. Jenna Gagnon, Ipswich 18 246 13.7 4. Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 20 265 13.2 5. Colleen Corcoran, Fenwick 21 254 12.1 6. Gianna Pizzano, Fenwick 21 242 11.5 7. Sam Charette, Hamilton-Wenham 20 231 11.5 8. Emily Freedland, Marblehead 20 217 10.9 9. Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 20 211 10.6 10. Meghan Collins, Masconomet 20 204 10.2 Three-point leaders: Kate Lipka, Bishop Fenwick 41; Hannah Llewellyn, Danvers 34; Emily Freedland, Marblehead 32; Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 29; Melissa Gray, Peabody 25. Note: Leaders include players from The Salem News coverage area only and games played as of Feb. 21, 2014