SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 21, 2014

Bounce Passes: Masconomet kept tournament tradition rolling along

Bounce Passes
Gianna Addario

---- — Masconomet has proven itself in the state tournament time and time again over the years.

The Chieftains have kept one of the North Shore’s longest playoff streaks alive this winter after qualifying for the postseason for the 30th year in a row. In more recent times, Masconomet has gone 16-11 in the tournament under head coach Bob Romeo, who earned his 200th win earlier in 2013-14.

Each year brings a new set of challenges, but the Chieftains seem always to be a constant. They’re almost a sure lock for a tourney berth no matter what personnel Romeo has to work with.

This year’s group of seniors was something special. A unique group of girls, Hannah Kiernan, Nicole Femino, Lexie Nason, Meg Letvinchuk and Janelle Shea, caught Romeo’s attention early on in their basketball careers.

”Two years ago at tryouts, when Brooke Stewart was playing, everybody knew that team was going to be fabulous,” explained Romeo. “I said to my daughter (and assisted coach) Danielle, that in two years when these sophomores are seniors, we’re going to be terrific. “I could see their work ethic and their talent. They did not disappoint; they were terrific.”

The Chieftains (21-2) earned the Cape Ann League title for the first time since 2008 this winter as Kiernan and Femino were named co-MVPs of the league for their 13-plus points per game.

”They have very similar stats and took turns putting the team on their back, either individually or together as they combined to score 30 of our 38 second half points in the come-from-behind win against Newburyport,” Romeo said of Kiernan and Femino. “When the game was on the line, I was looking to have either of them to make big plays.”

Masconomet was a game shy of returning to the Tsongas Center for the North final for the second time in three years. The Chieftains led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter of the Division 1 North semifinal against top-seeded Central Catholic, but the Raiders managed a late second half push, trumping Masco’s chances of a shot at a Division 1 North title. It was the fifth time since moving up to Division 1 in 2010 that Masconomet was ousted from the tournament by a Merrimack Valley Conference team (twice by Central and Andover, and last season to Billerica).

The Chieftains will return two starters, Meghan Collins and Kate Kitsakos, next winter along with freshman Stephanie Mini, who played significant minutes off the bench.

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Salem looks like a team to keep an eye on next season. The Witches are returning all of their players, including juniors Jaclyn Panneton and Rachael Zipper, along with sophomores Brianna Rodriguez and Maritza Scott.

While they had a difficult go at this year, the Witches have a tough core. After missing out on the playoffs this season, expect them to be a contender in the Northeastern Conference next year.

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Former Bishop Fenwick star and Beverly native Amy Pelletier recently broke Stonehill’s single season record for most three-point field goals made. The Skyhawks’ junior wrapped up the season with 87 three-pointers, surpassing the previous record of 81 threes by Michelle Doonan (in 1995).

Pelletier earned All-Northeast-10 honors for the first time this season with her third team selection. She also averaged 13.3 points per game and shot 82.8 percent from the free throw line, making 24-of-29 shots.

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Jane Heil coached the final game of her illustrious career earlier this month against Central Catholic, Game No. 701 in her book of many accomplishments at Peabody High.

Heil coached for 33 seasons at Peabody, earned her 500th career win last season and was inducted into the Mass. Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame last November. She had debated on retiring or not, but made it official a few weeks back at a press conference held at the high school.

“Every year there’s a discussion if a coach will retire,” said Heil. “I let the girls know when they turned in their uniforms. There was some genuine shock on some of their faces. The seniors seemed OK with it because they’re leaving, too. I’m happy to go out with them because they’re my last team, they’ll hold a special place in my heart.

“I knew it was time. I wanted to go when things were good. The JV and freshman teams were undefeated. There’s strength in the program and I’d like to leave that for somebody.”

Peabody is scheduled to open the position sometime next week and is expected to begin the interviewing process early next month.

The Tanners also held their end of the season banquet earlier this week, where Heil named the captain-elects for next year— Danielle Sullivan, Courtney Bua and Sara Hosman.

Senior captain Alex Lomasney was given the Unsung Hero Award, Carolyn Scacchi was named team MVP, Amanda Matthews and Olivia Summit were chosen for the Coaches Awards, and Hosman earned the Frank L Wiggin Award for her unselfish play and impact on the season.

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Bounce Passes, a column on North Shore girls basketball, runs in The Salem News every Friday during the winter season. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.

2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORING LEADERS

Name, School Games Played Points Average

1. Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody 22 342 15.5

2. Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 23 308 13.4

3. Jenna Gagnon, Ipswich 19 249 13.1

4. Nicole Femino, Masconomet 23 298 13.0

5. Colleen Corcoran, Bishop Fenwick 23 279 12.1

6. Gianna Pizzano, Bishop Fenwick 23 266 11.6

7. Sam Charette, Hamilton-Wenham 23 261 11.3

8. Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 23 242 10.5

9. Emily Freedland, Marblehead 21 225 10.7

10. Mia Bongiorno, Marblehead 21 213 10.1

Three-Point Leaders: Kate Lipka, Bishop Fenwick 43; Hannah Llewellyn, Danvers 35; Emily Freedland, Marblehead 34; Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 33; Melissa Gray, Peabody 25.