---- — It’s hard to believe that the second half of the North Shore girls basketball season is already under way, with most teams having already played more than half the games on their 2013-2014 schedule.
Masconomet (11-0) became the first local club to earn a tournament berth with its win over Lynnfield last Friday night. A few others including Peabody, Hamilton-Wenham, Danvers, Bishop Fenwick and Marblehead only need a few more wins to clinch a playoff spot.
For other local teams, it’s about making that extra push in hopes of having a chance to play at the DCU Center in March. Here is a look at quartet of teams still in tournament contention:
Though the Big Blue haven’t been able to put together back-to-back wins, their latest victory over Salem has them in right direction.
They’ve averaged 52.3 points in the three games that they’ve won, but only put up an average of 30.8 in the seven games they’ve lost. Scoring has come in spurts, but Swampscott is looking for consistent offense every night.
”Our win over Salem is the type of momentum we need to take with us in the second part of the season,” said head coach Abrom Roberts. “Despite the losing, the girls come to practice eager to learn. We’re just trying to put everything together.”
Freshman Jaymie Caponigro and senior Jacqueline Walsh have provided most of the scoring.
Caponigro has been one of the bright spots in the season. She’s hit double figures in the past two games and, despite being one of the youngest girls on the team, plays with the type of confidence Roberts is looking for.
While the Big Blue, who host Revere tonight (7 p.m.), are considered one of the younger teams in the Northeastern Conference, Abrom looks at it as a learning experience for the years to come. ”My goal every year is for the girls to become better basketball players,” said Roberts. “I’m looking to build a program, and it’s important to continue to move forward.”
The Panthers hit a hot streak earlier this month before falling to Northeastern Conference South frontrunner Winthrop. Beverly’s offense has found a rhythm since moving different players in and out of the starting lineup.
Thanks to a snowed out game this past Saturday scheduled against Revere, Beverly hasn’t played since seeing its four-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Winthrop eight days ago. They’re finally back at it tonight in Marblehead. While the Magicians have a better record than Beverly, the interesting thing about the NEC is that it’s well balanced. On any given night a team has the capability of beating an opponent they may have lost to earlier in the season.
Don’t count Beverly out just yet. The Panthers are starting to click under first-year head coach Allison Flynn.
The Witches are perhaps one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NEC. Both their sharpshooting guards and the post play of junior Jaclyn Panneton give Salem multiple scoring options. The return of guard Rachael Zipper has also provided a boost for one of the youngest teams in the area.
Last year at this time, the Witches went on a win streak to clinch a playoff spot and are looking to do the same thing this season. Despite the Tuesday’s loss to Peabody, Salem head coach John Fortunato seems confident in his team’s ability.
”I’ve always asked, no matter where the team is at, to get better every game,” explained Fortunato. “You can’t just measure things by if you lose, it was bad and if you win, it’s good. Tuesday’s loss was on of our better performances — and I want the girls to know that.”
Sophomore Brianna Rodriguez had one of her best games of the season against the Tanners, finishing with 14 points and making her defensive presence known.
Look for Salem to put it together down the stretch.
The Tigers dropped their last two games, but have had seen some promising wins after switching coaches in the early part of the season from Dot Stanley to Doug Woodworth.
Ipswich is completely different team from a year ago. After graduating its core lineup,Jenna Gagnon, Bridget Curran, Jackie Gagnon and Jordan Morrissey now make up the key returning players while Kelsey Daly, Marissa Cain and Abby McCarthy are some of the newcomers who are providing depth.
After playing four games in six days last week, Masconomet had a few days off to get ready for its next half of the schedule. The Chieftains take on Georgetown tonight and then are off again until Wednesday, when they play Manchester Essex.
At 11-0, Masconomet is the only team left in our coverage area that remains undefeated. With that said, the Chieftains are preparing for some tough opponents in the coming weeks. They open February against Pentucket, which has been playing much stronger as of late. They’ll also go up against two other Cape Ann League Large rivals, Hamilton-Wenham and Newburyport.
Masconomet has a true test right before the playoffs start, going to the St. Mary’s of Lynn tournament. The Chieftains go up against Lexington, but could play either NEC Large frontrunner Lynn English or Newton North in the second of the two-day tourney.
Ex Bishop Fenwick star Amy Pelletier is having quite the season for herself at Stonehill. The junior guard is averaging 15.6 points per game and is shooting 54-of-109 from beyond the arc.
The Beverly native has started in all 14 games And has helped her team to 10-4 record overall. Pelletier’s best game of the season came against Franklin Pierce, in which she scored 24 points.
Pelletier, a former Salem News Player of the Year, hit double digits in a dozen contests this winter and scored over 15 points in nine of them.
There are two big Northeastern Conference crossover matchups on tonight’s schedule. Peabody, which stands in second place in the NEC Large, travels to Danvers. The Falcons are currently second in the Small after going on a five-game win streak earlier in the season.
Beverly (4-6) is headed to Marblehead for their only meeting of the winter. The Panthers put together four straight wins in the past few weeks, while the Magicians put an end to a three-game skid after their win against Saugus on Wednesday.
Bounce Passes, a column on North Shore girls basketball, runs in The Salem News every Friday during the winter season. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORING LEADERS Name, School Games Points Average 1. Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody 9 117 13.0 2. Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 11 141 12.8 3. Nicole Femino, Masconomet 11 140 12.7 4. Jenna Gagnon, Ipswich 9 111 12.3 5. Colleen Corcoran, Bishop Fenwick 11 129 11.7 6. Jaclyn Panneton, Salem 8 91 11.4 7. Emily Freedland, Marblehead 9 98 10.9 8. Sam Charette, Hamilton-Wenham 10 107 10.7 9. Emily McNulty, Danvers 9 90 10.0 10. Meghan Collins, Masconomet 11 109 9.9 Three-point leaders: Hannah Llewellyn, Danvers 17; Emily Freedland, Marblehead 15; Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 14; Nicole Femino, Masconomet 13; Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 12. Note: Leaders include players from The Salem News coverage area only and games played as of Jan. 23.