TOPSFIELD — With hard work and persistence comes experience. That’s what the Masconomet girls basketball team has been able to acquire over the past few seasons — experience.
As the Chieftains “Big Three” of Hannah Kiernan, Nicole Femino and Meghan Collins go, so does the rest of the team. They’ve developed a system that’s worked for them over the years and with senior Lexi Nason and junior Kate Kitsakos rounding out the starting lineup, Masco has grown into a well-oiled machine.
This weekend was expected to be an eventful one for the Chieftains, after defeating Pentucket on Friday and having to deal with Hamilton-Wenham tonight, their schedule is chock full of important games. None bigger, however, than Saturday’s holiday tournament championship game against a tough and gritty Bishop Fenwick team.
The Crusaders played Masco hard, perhaps its toughest competition of the season thus far. A near perfect second half, though, led the Chieftains to its second straight holiday championship crown as they pulled away with a 65-40 victory over Fenwick.
“We’ve seen this team a lot,” Masconomet head coach Bob Romeo said about taking on Fenwick. “We played them last year, saw them in the summer league and they’re crazy competitive. (Adam DeBaggis) coaches them in volleyball and they won the North. They’re athletes that know how to win. We expected a tight game because of that. I think the difference was that we wore them down.”
Masco (4-0) led by five, 29-24, at the the half after going shot-for-shot with Fenwick in the second quarter. The Chieftains hit four 3-pointers in a row, while the Crusaders made four straight lay-ups to keep it a close contest.
While the Chieftains led by nine at the end of the third quarter, the fourth proved to be the most prosperous as they scored 25 points to put the game away.
Kiernan, who netted a career-high 24 points, poured in 17 points in the first half to lead the way for the Chieftains. Kiernan (eight rebounds) was named tournament MVP for her impressive shooting performance, draining a career-best six 3-pointers.
“She was on fire and was feeling it obviously,” Romeo explained of Kiernan. “She played a complete game, it wasn’t just shooting. Defensively she made some nice plays and made some lead ahead passes to get us some easy baskets.”
Collins (eight assists, two steals) and Femino (eight rebounds, four steals) also gave Masco’s offense a boost, as they each finished with 11 points. Kitsakos recorded 12 points and added seven rebounds to help her Chieftain club.
On the other end of the court, Gianna Pizzano (seven rebounds) scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half and handled the majority of Fenwick’s offense in the early part of the game. Sophomore Colleen Corcoran netted a team-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds.
“They were playing with some real guts,” said Fenwick head coach Adam DeBaggis. “There are some real good signs, especially Colleen only being a sophomore and she shows tremendous leadership at that age.
“I’m definitely proud of the way our girls played. I told them before that game we have to leave it all on the line and we did that.”
Lexi Rose (four points) and Melissa MacKenzie (three points) were the only other Crusaders to factor into the scoring.
Romeo also noted the impressive play of Nason, who pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.
Collins, Pizzano and Corcoran were named to the all-tournament team along with Beverly’s MaryCate Flaherty and Pentucket’s Kelsi McNamara.