The Ipswich High girls basketball team knows that in order to get to the Division 3 North final at Tsongas Center in Lowell three days from now, it will have to go through the defending Div. 3 state champions.
Therefore, tonight’s semifinal contest at Beverly High against those reigning titlists from top seeded Pentucket (7 p.m.) is one of the more anticipated games on the schedule as the two rivals go head-to-head for this second time this year.
Though this will be only the second postseason meeting between the two teams they’re quite familiar with one another, having met 11 times since 2004. That includes last year’s North final game in which the Sachems cruised to a 49-30 victory.
But Ipswich has proven it can hang with the Sachems — especially back in January’s regular season matchup. Ipswich led after three quarters (35-32), but ultimately fell to the hosts in West Newbury, scoring just five points in the final quarter.
“Ipswich has always been a well-coached and prepared team,” said Sachems head coach John McNamara, who is 9-0 against Ipswich since taking over the program in 2007. “I think they’re a much better team this year (and) I’m sure they built off the experience they gained last year. They’re one of the best teams in the state, capable of beating any team in the state, regardless of division.
“I expect a close game again. At this time of year, there are no secrets as both teams know each other very well. I’m sure both teams will be ready to play; it should be a great matchup.”
Pentucket went undefeated (15-0) in the Cape Ann League, winning its third straight league crown. The Sachems’ only loss came at the hands of Notre Dame of Hingham in a nonleague matchup.
What’s more, Pentucket has earned a pair of Div. 3 North sectional titles and made two appearances in the Div. 3 state title game in recent years.