By Jean DePlacido
---- — BEVERLY — Unfortunately for the many Ipswich fans that turned the fieldhouse at Beverly High into a sea of orange last night, the end result was not what they hoped for.
After breaking the all-time school record for most points scored in a season, the Tigers girls basketball team had their lowest point total of the season in a 46-26 loss to top seeded Pentucket in the Division 3 North semifinals.
Ipswich managed to hang tough until late in the third quarter, when the Sachems (23-1) began to pull away.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we played our best game tonight,” said Ipswich (19-4) coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski. “Offensively we couldn’t get it going, and turnovers killed us in the first half.
“(Pentucket) played great defense and we didn’t take care of the ball. Both teams were really good defensively, but this wasn’t a fun game to watch. I kept hoping for a run, but we’d score a basket and then they’d get one. We couldn’t get anything going.”
Both teams had off-shooting nights, and it quickly turned into a defensive battle. Despite 16 first half turnovers by the Tigers, Pentucket only led by three at intermission, 15-12.
The game was tied four different times. The Tigers came out strong to start the second half and went on an 8-2 run to pull ahead, 20-17, after Masey Zegarowski hit a 3-pointer. But just when it appeared Ipswich had momentum going, Pentucket answered with eight unanswered points to go up 25-20 and never trailed after that.
Sophomore Caroline Soucy (a team-high 8 points) hit one of her two treys to cut the deficit to three (27-24) late in the third quarter, but Pentucket scored the next five points to take an eight-point cushion into the final frame.
Sachems sophomore guard Kelsi McNamara (15 points) hit a bomb at the other end, and Nicole Viselli (13 points) made a pair of free throws.
McNamara hurt her knee in the second quarter and had to sit out for a while. She came back in the third quarter to lead her team even though she limped up and down the court.
“I knew I had to suck it up and play through it,” said the sharpshooting guard. “I wasn’t as fast as usual, but my teammates had my back. I knew this could have been our last game, and I wouldn’t let my knee keep me on the bench.”
The game was won at the free throw line with the Sachems making 18 of 24 shots (75 percent) while Ipswich only went to the line four times and made one.
Ipswich’s Julia Davis (6 points) made a layup to start the fourth quarter and cut Pentucket’s lead to six, but the Tigers didn’t score another point the rest of the way.
“Credit Pentucket’s defense for that,” said Masey Zegarowski. “We didn’t stay together as a team like we always do, and the shots that’ve been going in all year didn’t fall tonight.
“We’re going to miss our seniors (Davis, Brigid O’Flynn, and Courtney Eramo) and their leadership, but this loss will make us stronger for next season.”
Pentucket remained unbeaten against Cape Ann League teams and will now face Watertown in the North finals at Tsongas Arena Saturday.
“Too bad this game wasn’t at Tsongas,” said Sachems coach John McNamara. “We were the home team, but this felt more like a road game because it took us 50 minutes to get here ... and all I saw was orange. This game was much closer than the final score.
agateHed:Pentucket 46, Ipswich 26
agate_boldCentered:Division 3 North semifinals
at Henry Cabot Lodge Fieldhouse, Beverly
agate_lineQuarters:Ipswich@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Zegarowski 2-0-5; Soucy 3-0-8; O’Flynn 0-1-1; Curran 0-0-0; Davis 3-0-6; Eramo 0-0-0; Jenna Gagnon 2-0-6; Morrissey 0-0-0; Jackie Gagnon 0-0-0; Moutevelis 0-0-0; McCarthy 0-0-0; Pignone 0-0-0. @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 10-1-26@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Pentucket@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Snow 0-0-0; A. Moore 2-3-7; McNamara 5-3-15; Viselli 2-9-13; T. Moore 0-0-0; Hollow 0-1-1; Kilian 3-2-8; Wiles 0-0-0; Modlish 0-0-0; Kennefick 0-0-0; Nogueira 1-0-2; Torrisi 0-0-0; Holden 0-0-0; Dresser 0-0-0 @SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:Totals@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters: 13-18-46@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:.
agate_lineQuarters:Halftime@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: Pentucket, 15-12.
agate_lineQuarters:3-pointers@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: I, Soucy 2, Jenna Gagnon 2, Zegarowski; P, McNamara 2.
agate_lineQuarters:Records@SportsLocalAgate:agate_lineQuarters:: I, 19-4; P, 23-1.