If you haven’t caught an Ipswich High girls game this season, then you’re missing out on seeing some serious hoop talent.
Since losing to Pentucket last year in the Division 3 North final, the Tigers have won eight straight contests to begin the season. Tonight Ipswich has a chance to make it nine in a row when it takes on Triton (1-7) at home.
With nearly half the season already played, you’d have to bet that Ipswich’s calendar has had a big circle around Tuesday’s away game against the defending Div. 3 champion Sachems in West Newbury.
It’s hard to argue the level of excellence that has returned to the Pentucket starting lineup, with four of its core players back from a year ago. The Sachems are without a doubt one of the most difficult teams Ipswich will see.
“We’re playing at Pentucket for the third year in a row,” said Ipswich head coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski. “It’s always very hard to play there, although we should be used to it by now.
“They shoot very well from the outside, so we have to close out on defense. We have to play with confidence and make shots. We need to leave that game feeling like we gave it everything we had.”
In last year’s regular season game, Pentucket trumped the Tigers, 47-28, and handed them a similar loss (49-30) in the North final.
But the Sachems aren’t the only ones with a well-rounded roster. Led by senior captain Julia Davis, (16.1 points per game, 11.5 rebounds per game), Ipswich has one of the more talked-about teams in the Cape Ann League.
Davis and fellow senior captain Brigid O’Flynn bring a significant amount of leadership and experience to the court. They’re well on their way to guiding the Tigers back to the postseason for the ninth straight season.
Also back from last year’s North final team are sophomores Masey Zegarowski and Caroline Soucy. This is Zegarowski’s second year in the starting lineup; she logged significant minutes last winter at point guard and has continued that theme this season. She is the team’s second-leading scorer (14.5 ppg) and has just six turnovers all year, less than one per game.
Soucy has come on strong taking over for Shannon McFayden, who was the team’s three-point specialist last year. Soucy is averaging 9.6 ppg as a starter and compliments Zegarowski’s play nicely.
The duo made their national debut together this summer, playing for the New England Crusaders. Both bring a high level of skill and are able to read the game well. It should be interesting to see what these two can do in the next two-and-a-half seasons.
Also contributing to the success is freshman Jenna Gagnon. The 5-foot-8 forward is a huge spark of the bench and already has 11 3-pointers.
“Our goal is to continue to have everyone contribute offensively,” said Carter-Zegarowski. “We’ve had four different players lead us in scoring in our eight games.”
Peabody is back to its winning ways after a recent two-game skid. The Tanners started out 4-0, including head coach Jane Heil winning her 500th career game in the last week of December. But the Tanners struggled after that victory, with losses against Revere and Lynn English.
Two nights ago, however, the Tanners once again found their rhythm and handed Winthrop its first loss of the season, 46-37.
“I’m incredibly happy that after back-to-back losses we played so well against an undefeated, good caliber team,” Heil said of the home victory. “The girls came out firing. It was nice to be back in our gym; our shooting percentage was better, we rebounded and our foul shooting was quite good.”
Sophomore Courtney Bua went 6-for-6 from the foul line in just her second start of the season. Junior captain Carolyn Scacchi had an all-around solid game with 15 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks and five points.
“The minute she got the ball (Winthrop) was on her like buzzing bees,” said Heil. “She was able to get it to the open shooters and we hit some shots.”
Danvers might have dropped Wednesday’s game to Lynn English, but that doesn’t mean head coach Pat Veilleux wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
After a win against Gloucester on Monday, the Falcons kept the momentum rolling and held first place English to just 36 points two nights later.
“I’m very proud of the way of girls have been playing,” said Veilleux. “They’ve been working so hard. We just couldn’t hit those layups against Winthrop, but our defense really held it down for us.”
Though points have been hard to come by for the Falcons in certain games, senior captain Kasey Sherry leads the area in three-pointers made with 24.
Danvers takes take on another young Northeastern Conference team tonight as they travel to Salem (7 p.m.).
Did you know that Beverly has won three straight games? After dropping their opening six contests, the Panthers have put a string of victories together over Salem, Revere and Swampscott.
What’s more is that in each of the three wins, Beverly has scored 50 or more points. In the first six contests, the Panthers averaged just 35 points per game, but have been able to find some scoring consistency recently.
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.