By Gianna Addario
---- — SALEM — Before every contest, Peabody head coach Jane Heil chooses a player to give a pregame speech to the team. Yesterday, junior Mia Lomasney was awarded the honor.
With exam week in full swing, the early start time and bad weather, she spoke of focusing on the task at hand, which for the Tanners was Salem. Lomasney’s words were simple, but they resonated with her teammates.
Behind a 22-point performance by senior captain Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody took down the host Witches, 54-41 to win its third straight game.
“The girls were focused and kept us where we needed to be,” said Heil. “This was Carolyn’s best game of the year, but her best is yet to come. I was very pleased with her getting the ball down low and either going left or right to the basket.”
Scacchi, who hit the first three shots of the game, earned a double-double with 15 rebounds. She also had four assists, three blocks and one steal to lead the way for the Tanners (7-2).
The 6-foot-2 center took advantage of the mismatch against Salem, scoring the majority of her points from inside the paint.
“We needed her to step up and pound the ball inside,” noted Heil. “Another night we might need girls from the outside.”
Salem (3-5) and Peabody traded baskets in the first quarter, but the Tanners managed to pull ahead to start the second. They went on a 14-2 run, but the Witches closed gap to within eight by halftime (30-22).
“We’re a younger team with so many things to learn,” explained Salem head coach John Fortunato. “Every time we were on the ropes to Peabody, a team that poses so many problems for you, the kids responded the way I wanted them to.”
Peabody ended the third quarter ahead, 46-29. The Witches responded by going a 9-2 run to start the fourth, including four points from Jaclyn Panneton and a three-point by Nicole Sadoway.
Salem cut the deficit to 10 midway through the fourth, but the Tanners were able to hold off the push down the stretch.
“Salem is right there, every time I though we’d put them away with 15 or 16 point lead, they’d cut it to eight,” said Heil. “They never went away.”
Brianna Rodriguez, who scored a team-high 14 points for the Witches, played aggressive to ball and read the defense well. Anytime she could get a hand in the passing lane, she did.
“Brianna just has an incredible motor and is very intense,” said Fortunato. “She’s such a dream kid to coach. She’s like a sponge and wants to continue to learn. She always the first one in the gym to start work and you love kids with that heart.”
Senior Olivia Summit (four assists) and junior Danielle Sullivan each added eight points for the Tanners, while Sara Hosman (five assists) and Courtney Bua both scored six in the win.
Heil also noted the defensive play of senior captain Alex Lomasney (four points). Every time Lomasney went to the bench, Salem went on their scoring runs.
“Of course Alex is just so quick and long for us,” Heil said. “We got help from different places too. The girls were ready when they got the call. They know what they have to do. I still want us to put together 32 minutes of defense. I want the girls to stay hungry.”
Panneton finished with eight points, while Sadoway and Hannah Van de Stadt each notched five for the Witches.
“As I told the girls, it’s tough to lose. But this is as good as you’re going to feel after a loss,” noted Fortunato. “The girls showed something to me about their character and about never giving up. I was just very, very proud of their efforts. Even as a coach I told them there were some things that I could do to help them clean up parts of their game.”