By Gianna Addario
---- — CHELMSFORD — The Hamilton-Wenham girls basketball team had a small window of time to chip away at its deficit last night.
After Watertown’s Gabby Copolla went to the bench early in the third quarter with her third foul, the Generals did everything thing they could to cut the double-digit deficit. But the top-seeded Raiders had different plans.
Instead, Watertown added to its lead en route to 51-39 victory over Hamilton-Wenham in the Division 2 North semifinals.
“We wanted to go for it then (with Copolla on the bench),” said Hamilton-Wenham head coach Jon DeMarco. “But we just weren’t making our shots in that stretch. If we could’ve just hit a couple more baskets to cut into the lead ...
“I loved our chances in the fourth quarter. We were able to do that against Stoneham when were down (earlier in the state tournament). Credit to Watertown, though, for not letting us make those shots.”
DeMarco figured out early on that he could expose a mismatch in the paint with both Sam Charette and Catherine Ecker dominating down low. The Generals (17-6) tried to get it to Charette and Ecker inside more in the second half to chip away at the deficit.
“They’ve been awesome for us all year, and in the second half we really made it a point to try to find them down low,” DeMarco noted. “Watertown plays a matchup zone, which is a little unorthodox for a high school team, so we had to make some adjustments at halftime. I thought Sam and Catherine really did a nice job getting the ball inside and finishing around the hoop.”
Charette, who was named to the Cape Ann All-League team this winter, poured in a game-high 19 points while Ecker added 10.
The Raiders (21-1) established a 29-15 lead at halftime and there was little that the Generals could do to stop their outside shooters.
Behind sisters Gianna (14 points) and Gabby Copolla (12 points), Watertown pushed its lead to 17 points (41-24) by the end of the third quarter.
“We were very concerned with Hamilton-Wenham’s ball pressure. They’re a tough team and they play hard,” said Watertown head coach Pat Ferdinand, whose team took home the Middlesex League championship title. “They’re scrappy and we just have a ton of respect for them.
“Our girls just focused ... and we stress team first. Out shots fell and if they didn’t, we had girls at the other end defending hard.”
Watertown was in the shooting bonus early in the fourth quarter and Shannon Murphy took advantage, going 5-of-6 from the line to ice the victory for her team.
It was the furthest the Generals had gone in the state tournament since 2004. Huge credit for that goes to the team’s five seniors; Ecker, Charette, Haley Willis, Suz Rose and Leslie Bynum.
“I’m extremely proud of the way the girls played all year and the way they got after it in practice,” added DeMarco. “They’ve so much to be proud of; I can’t say enough about how pleased I am of this group of girls. Our five seniors stepped up to the plate and showed great leadership.”
Watertown 51, Hamilton-Wenham 39
Division 2 North semifinal
at Chelmsford High School
Hamilton-Wenham: Charette 6-7-19, Rose 2-2-7, Eagar 0-1-1, Ecker 4-2-10, Vivenzio 1-0-2. Totals 13-12-39.
Chelmsford: Gianna Copolla 5-1-14, Gabby Copolla 5-2-12, Rourke 3-1-7, Konte 4-0-9, Murphy 1-5-7, Antonelis 1-0-2. Totals 19-9-51.
Halftime: W, 29-15
3-pointers: HW, Rose; W, Gianna Copolla 3, Konte.
Records: HW, 17-6; W, 21-1.