TOPSFIELD — Defense wins games. That was the message Masconomet coach Bob Romeo stressed at halftime of the Masconomet Holiday Basketball Tournament championship game.
The girls listened and shut Bishop Fenwick down, giving up only two points in the third quarter and rolling to a 46-35 victory Saturday night.
“I said we have to be a better defensive team,” said Romeo, after his team improved to 4-1. “We talked about that a lot at halftime. The girls responded by coming out and doing it.”
Masconomet got off to a slow start, but junior forward Nicole Femino, the tournament MVP with a game-high 15 points, bailed her team out by scoring nine of their 10 first quarter points.
Fenwick’s Chandler Wilder hit a buzzer beating three-pointer to give the Crusaders a 12-10 lead after the first eight minutes, but at intermission Masco clung to a 23-21 advantage in the see-saw half.
The Crusaders were able to build up a seven-point lead early in the second quarter before sophomore guard Meghan Collins, who finished with a dozen points and was named to the All Tournament Team, led the Masco comeback.
“It’s a big honor to receive the MVP, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” said Femino. “We’re a different team than last year (Division 1 North finalist), and we’re young but very smart. At halftime coach Romeo told us it was more important to play defense. We’re a very quick team and can play great defense as a unit. We went out there in the third quarter and concentrated on doing that.”
Masconomet shot just 12 for 58 in the game, but won with a tremendous rebounding effort. They controlled the glass at both ends and often got three or four shots off. Claudia Marsh led the team with 19 boards while Lexie Nason had 16. Collins chipped in with seven and Femino had five. Marsh and Nason combined for 18 offensive boards as the Chieftains outrebounded Fenwick, 57-33.