By Gianna Addario
---- — TOPSFIELD — The Masconomet girls basketball team came out firing on all cylinders yesterday afternoon, creating six turnovers in the first quarter and stifling North Andover’s offense with premiere man-to-man coverage.
The Chieftains extended their win streak to six behind a 52-41 victory over their former Cape Ann League rival North Andover and punched their postseason ticket, moving to 10-2 overall.
“We’ve really been practicing well and I think we took that into the start of the game,” said Masco head coach Bob Romeo. “We need to run in order to be successful and I thought we really ran well at the beginning. I just like how hard we play and it’ll be great if we can keep it up. It’s definitely a very satisfying win for us.”
Senior captain Claudia Marsh (five steals) made her presence known in the first half, dropping in six of her nine points in the second quarter. Abi Rose came off the bench in the first half and scored a half dozen points to put Masco up 26-19 at the break.
The Scarlet Knights (9-3) turned it over 10 times in the opening stanza and felt the absence of leading scorer Morgan Lumb, who suffered an ankle injury against Dracut last week.
“Masconomet did just such a nice job with defensive pressure,” said North Andover coach Sue Breen. “Give a lot of credit to Masco because they made a lot of plays, driving to the hoop and getting us in foul trouble.
“The last two games, we have’t run our offense very well and we just have to adjust (without Morgan). We still have kids that can do it, but we just haven’t clicked yet.”
The Chieftains went right back to work in the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 8-0 in the first four minutes of play. Masco held North Andover to seven points in the quarter and had its best quarter of the game scoring wise with 15.
Junior Hannah Kiernan finished with a team-high 15 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Lexie Nason, who scored just two points, was excellent under the basket pulling down 13 rebounds.
“We were able to beat them on the fast breaks,” said Kiernan. “It really helped us establish our lead in the beginning of the game and then we kept it up even at the end.”
Despite two of its players fouling out, North Andover put the pressure on down the stretch and cut the deficit to as little as seven with under two minutes to play in the game. When push came to shove however, Masco punched in the final four points to secure the victory.
“I was happy with how we defended for about 28 minutes, the last four were a little sketchy,” added Romeo. “I think we got a little too aggressive trying to get steals and gave them some open shots.”
The next two weeks are pretty spread out for the Chieftains, just two games in 12 days.