By Gianna Addario
---- — TOPSFIELD — The Pentucket girls basketball team has had its way with Masconomet over the past few seasons while proving to be a real thorn in the Chieftains side.
It’s no secret the rivalry that these two teams have developed in the Cape Ann League. Battle after battle went in favor of the Sachems and for the past five years, Masco has had no answer for Pentucket.
Last night was different, though. For the first time since 2008 the Chieftains handled business in this rivalry on their home court, topping Pentucket 66-40. The victory sends Masconomet into its holiday tournament championship tonight against Bishop Fenwick.
“It’s a big monkey off our shoulders,” said Masco head coach Bob Romeo. “We’ve had some tremendous battles the past five years. Some two-point games, an overtime, but they’ve been the class of the league. This year we’re off to a good start. Once we get the game going at our speed, it’s hard to play with us.”
Still undefeated (3-0) in the early part of the season, everything seems to be clicking for the Chieftains.
The offense took a while to get going in the first quarter last night, though the shots were there for the Masco. The Chieftains found their rhythm in the second quarter and began to pull away from Pentucket. In fact, Masco opened the quarter on an 11-0 run and didn’t allow a Sachems bucket until 2:42 left in the half.
“The key was when we held them scoreless for that stretch,” noted Romeo. “They were stuck at six points for a long time. And it wasn’t like we were getting tremendous offense. All of a sudden a four-point game ballooned up to 20 points.”
Pentucket (1-3) has a different look this season after losing trio Tess Nogueira, Coley Viselli and Alex Moore to graduation. Without any seniors on this year’s roster, the Sachems are building around its younger players including Kelsi McNamara, McKenna Killian and Taylor Moore.
“It doesn’t matter who is on the team, they will always be a good team,” said senior captain Nicole Femino. “They’ve been a good team since I entered high school and I’m sure they’ll be a good team long after. They always put up a good fight.”
Junior point guard Meghan Collins scored 10 of her team-high 15 points in the first half and used her quick speed to push the fast break baskets. The Chieftains 29-14 lead at halftime continued to grow in the second half after Femino dropped in nine points during the third quarter.
Endicott head coach Brittany Hutchinson was in the house to check out Masconomet senior captain Hannah Kiernan, who finished the night with 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Kate Kitsakos also stood out for the Chieftains, adding nine points and seven rebounds as a starter.
“We told Kate before the game that this was the kind of game she could do real well in,” added Romeo. “She made some many hustle plays for us, offensive rebounds, fast breaks and nice defensive plays. She really did a lot in the game.”
Freshman Stephanie Mini, who has played valuable minutes off the bench for Masco, finished with eight points and nine rebounds and four steals. Senior captain Lexi Nason pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, while Megan Letvinchuk grabbed nine.
“It was a complete effort, up and down the lineup,” said Romeo. “Right now we’re playing with some confidence, which is good to see because I think confidence is huge in this sport.”