By Jean DePlacido
---- — SALEM — The Peabody girls basketball team may be young, but they are also talented. The Tanners don’t have a single senior this year, but junior captains Carolyn Scacchi and Alex Lomasney combined for 25 points and 24 rebounds in a 54-37 opening night victory over host Salem.
Scacchi dominated the middle and had a team-high 14 points to go with 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block while Lomasney added 11 points and eight rebounds.
“The play of our two captains made a statement about effort,” said Peabody coach Jane Heil. “I’m very happy with this performance. I think 54 points is a high for this group. We missed some inside shots, but that will come. After our scrimmages I started to wonder where the scoring would come from.”
The veteran Heil was especially pleased considering how solid the Witches tend to be on defense.
“Those 54 points came against a good defensive team. (Salem coach) John Fortunato always stresses defense,” she said. “I saw some hustle plays that I liked. Lomasney dove on a ball even though she knew she was going to get hit, and that inspired us all to keep playing hard.”
After going on a 10-0 run midway through the opening quarter Peabody took charge of the game and never trailed again. They were up by nine points after one quarter and 13 at halftime, 30-17. The Tanners often missed their initial shot but used their big height advantage to get second and third chances that they buried.
Olivia Summit had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Amanda Matthews chipped in with nine boards, and guard Sara Hosman had a big game with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Hosman, who is the only freshman on the varsity, earned a starting spot.
“What a performance for a freshman,” said Heil. “She’s a tall guard which is good, and she has some nice guards to complement her. This was a complete team effort, and I was pleased with everybody. Scacchi had a double-double, something I knew she was capable of. What I liked most was that she wanted to go to the basket. They had to double her, and in that situation she’ll give it to the open person. She really understands the game.”
Peabody capitalized on 14 turnovers by the Witches in the first half, and used their speed to run the fast break effectively. The Witches were led by sophomore guard Arianna Gaffney, who had 17 points including three treys. Sophomore center Jaclyn Panneton added eight, and Rachael Zipper had seven.
“This was a great game one, and I really liked how hard the kids played,” said Salem coach John Fortunato. “Peabody’s size will present problems to a lot of teams, and there’s no question they controlled inside the paint. They got a number of points off rebounds and turnovers.
“We have a new group playing together, and we’re going to be okay. All our girls went hard when they got on the floor, and we’ll continue to get better.”
Scacchi, who was much more physical and assertive, hit a layup at the buzzer to give her team a comfortable 15 point cushion going into the final quarter when both coaches emptied their benches.
“This is a good way to start,” said Scacchi. “We’re young with five juniors, five sophomores, and a freshman. I really wanted to have a good game here because I never seem to play well when we come to Salem. We all got a little upset when one newspaper article listed teams to look out for, and Peabody wasn’t on the list. We want to show everybody we are a team to look out for.”