By Matt Jenkins
---- — LAWRENCE — If victories were awarded based on guts, hustle and toughness, then the Peabody girls basketball team would be preparing to play in the Division 1 North semifinals right now.
Sometimes those intangibles just aren’t enough, however.
The Tanners refused to go away Saturday night, but likewise Central Catholic refused to give in. The Raiders took advantage of an injury to Peabody senior Carolyn Scacchi and hit the Tanners with a late run to advance with a 59-41 victory.
Central Catholic (20-1) will play Masconomet (a 52-47 winner over Andover) in the semis Wednesday (7 p.m.) at Lawrence High School.
“I loved the effort. I loved the belief,” Peabody (16-6) coach Jane Heil said. “I think we believed all along that we could come into their gym, the defending state champs, and knock them off. I think we made believers of the people until things just fell apart.”
Scacchi did everything she could to keep the Tanners alive.
Peabody’s senior center became more aggressive with her offense in the third quarter and almost single-handedly stumped Central’s attempt to pull away.
The Raiders pushed their lead to double digits early in the third quarter, but Scacchi finished a drive, hit a jumper and polished off another drive to pull Peabody within four points (35-31). However, moments later Scacchi collided with a Central player and a cut opened above her left eye.
She left the court to have the wound tended to, and Central pushed the lead back to 10 points in her absence.
Scacchi returned at the start of the fourth quarter and helped Peabody go on a 7-1 run. She made one free throw and hit a jumper off an inbounds play with 5:52 to go that cut Central’s lead to four points (44-40) once again. Scacchi’s cut began bleeding again though, and her night was over.
She finished with a game-high 19 points.
“Unfortunately, she got hurt there and it helped us down the stretch,” Central Catholic coach Sue Downer said. “What a great player, a heart of gold. I feel terrible that she got hurt. Obviously, she made a big difference and it had a huge impact when she came out of the game. She fought to the end.”
Central scored 13 straight points as Peabody went scoreless for over four minutes in the fourth quarter.
Caitlin Dell’Orfano and Amanda Williams each had 17 points for the Raiders.
Sara Hosman joined Scacchi in double figures with 10 points. Alex Lomasney played excellent defense for the Tanners.
Even though the night ended in defeat, Heil felt a lot of good came out of the game. She also hopes the performance helps the Northeastern Conference in some way.
“Hopefully it teaches the rest of the Northeastern Conference, like Lynn English that they can do this,” Heil said. “We almost did it so I’m pretty sure Lynn English can do it. I’m going to root for them, now they’re my No. 1 team.”
Central Catholic 59, Peabody 41
at Central Catholic, Peabody
Peabody: Summit 2-1-5, Hosman 4-2-10, Scacchi 9-1-19, Lomasney 1-2-4, Matthews 1-0-2, Alperen 0-1-1. Totals 17-7-41.
Central Catholic: Dell’Orfano 6-4-17, Nagri 3-0-7, Williams 6-5-17, Wiggins 1-4-6, Joy 1-0-2, Tierney 1-0-2, Walsh 2-0-4, Borrelli 0-2-2, Santana 0-2-2. Totals 20-17-59.
Halftime: CC, 28-21.
3-pointers: P, none; CC, Dell’Orfano, Nagri.
Records: P, 16-6; CC, 20-1.