IPSWICH — The Ipswich High girls basketball team is pretty familiar with the way tournament hoop is played. Having made a long postseason run last year, the Tigers have established a winning tradition in the playoffs and are doing everything they can to keep that going this winter.
The fourth-seed Tigers squared off against their Cape Ann League counterparts from North Reading last night in a Division 3 first round matchup and took control of the contest early on, cruising to a 68-34 victory.
The win advances Ipswich to the Division 3 North quarterfinals for the third consecutive season; it will play its second straight home game of the tournament against Winthrop on Sunday (4 p.m.).
“Most of us have experienced the tournament before and we knew coming in that we couldn’t take anything for granted,” said senior captain Julia Davis. “It didn’t matter that we beat them during the regular season, we just had to buckle down and play our hardest.
“I love having the home games ... and once the tournament gets going, the crowd gets more into it.”
Davis, a vocal leader on the court, gathered her teammates in a huddle on several occasions to either regroup or call out defensive plays. The CAL Small Co-Player of the Year (along with sophomore teammate Masey Zegarowski) recorded a team-high 13 rebounds to go along with her 14 points.
Ipswich (18-3) shot well from the field in the first half and established a 10-point lead at halftime, 30-20.
“I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Ipswich head coach Mandy Carter-Zergarowski. “We seemed a bit nervous in the first half; we’re not used to this big of a crowd. We made some silly mistakes in the first half. I really was trying to stress that we had three referees and not to foul. We could’ve played more aggressive getting through some of the screens in the first half, but that’s something that we’ll take a look at.”