Masconomet is in the best possible position it could be in this postseason. In a three-way tie in Division 1 North, the Chieftains along with Billerica and Westford Academy each finished at 17-3. Luckily, Masco drew the longer straw and got the No. 3 seed in the tournament.
On Thursday, the Chieftains will face Somerville at home in the first round.
"I heard they have a lot of talent," said Masco head coach Bob Romeo of the Somerville team. "They had a pretty end to their season and they were able to beat Arlington Catholic, something we weren't able to do in two tries this season."
Masco has one thing in its favor and that is the home-court advantage. It's very difficult to beat teams at home during the playoffs, which will work in the Chieftains' favor in the first round and into the second if they get the win over Somerville.
"I told the girls at practice yesterday, every team is 0-0 going into the playoffs," explained Romeo. "The games are played at such an intense level. I always say the hardest thing to do is to play a tournament game on an opponents home court."
Come next Thursday, Masco would have been off for 11 straight days from game action. Romeo doesn't want to practice too much and sometimes the layoff between games can work against teams. "Usually we always play on the first Monday," added Romeo. "Then when we found out the game wasn't until Thursday, I was surprised."
In Division 2, sixth seeded Salem finished at 11-9 and will host Melrose at home on Tuesday. The Witches mustered out a playoff spot late in the season and have come together on the offensive end of things down the stretch.
Melrose has a 1-7 record on the road, which plays into Salem's favor for Tuesday's games. Backed behind senior captain Holbrook Phelan and sophomore captain Alix Bryant, the Witches have received contributions from their younger players on the team, which has led to a more balanced attack.
If freshman point guard Rachael Zipper can continue to spread the ball around and find the open man, Salem has a strong possibility of taking the Melrose in the first round.
Marblehead, which drew the No. 8 seed, will face maybe the toughest opponent in the first round. The Magicians (10-10) square off against Gloucester on Wednesday on the road.
The last time these two teams did battle, the Fishermen handed Marblehead a tough 46-34 loss. The Magicians focused on Gloucester's two main girls Heather Cain and Audrey Knowlton — leaving other girls wide open and able to score.
A key for Marblehead is to spread its defense out. Head coach Skip Likins has said that his team is predicated on defense and if the Magicians want a win on the road against Gloucester, a solid team defense is just what they need to do.
Ipswich got the fourth seed in Division 3 and has received a bye in the first round. The Tigers are looking at a home game against either Watertown or Winthrop next Saturday night.
"I've heard Watertown is a young team, but strong and guard heavy," said Ipswich coach Mandy Zegarowski. "It's great to have this opportunity. We saw Watertown three years ago, but they're a completely different team now."
Zegarowski is using these days off from game action to get the girls ready for the potential opponents.
"I'd almost rather play right away than wait eight days," Zegarowski said. "We're all going to see the game between Winthrop and Watertown and we are certainly taking advantage of this time to bond as a team."
The Tigers are going to work on moving the ball and do a little less dribbling. A huge key to Ipswich's success in the tournament is its confidence. With a very freshman and sophomore heavy roster, the girls will have to play like seasoned veterans.
On the other side of the bracket in Div. 3 is Swampscott in the No. 2 spot. Like Ipswich, the Big Blue (17-3) will have a bye in the first round and will play at home in the quarter finals.
Swampscott capped off its season with a five game win streak and took home the Spartan Classic championship title, after beating Ipswich last Monday.
The Big Blue will match up against either Stoneham or Lynnfield in the quarter finals. Stoneham won its last four games of the season and at 10-10 Lynnfield finished in the middle of the pack in the Cape Ann League.
For Swampscott, a huge factor for the girls is staying healthy. The Big Blue battled with injuries off and on all season long and if they want to go far in the tournament, their health is key.