WEST NEWBURY — Masconomet girls basketball coach Bob Romeo had his team practice with sweatshirts underneath their practice jerseys. He wanted to prepare the girls for Pentucket’s stifling gymnasium last night and the tactic seemed to work.
The Chieftains, who remain undefeated on the season, had their hands full against the host Sachems, however a late free-throw by senior captain Hannah Kiernan kept their record blemish free in a 39-38 victory.
“It’s hot in this gym, we practiced three straight days with long-sleeve sweatshirts,” said Romeo after the game. “You do what you can to prepare the kids mentally. We’ve come in here a couple of other times and melted.
“We knew that Pentucket would be ready for us. I told the girls coming it that this game would be a low scoring battle. Fortunately, we got enough points in the third quarter that gave us a lead we tried to hold onto.”
Masconomet (14-0) handled business earlier in the season against the Sachems (12-4), but this time a more experienced Pentucket team took the floor.
After falling to the Chieftains back in December, Pentucket went on an 11-game win streak and showed tremendous growth during last night’s contest.
“First time we played Masco, we were embarrassed — they ran us off the court,” said Pentucket head coach John McNamara. “The girls knew we could play better and we did, but the bottom line is that they’re still losses. We had a chance to win the game and it’s disappointing, but we’re just going to continue to improve.”
Pentucket junior captain McKenna Killian earned all eight of her team’s first quarter points, while classmate and fellow captain Kelsi McNamara poured in 11 in the second quarter to give their team a 20-18 lead at the break.
The Sachems never trailed until the third quarter after Nicole Femino hit a three-pointer to put Masco up 23-22. For the most part, Pentucket did everything it could to shut down Masco’s offense in the first half, but it started to pick up in the second half.