There’s nothing like a preseason prophecy to really get a team going. Call it intuition or just plain luck, but most people had the Peabody girls basketball team of 1985, and the Masconomet team of 1996 pegged to be in the state finals at the beginning of their respective seasons.
For the Tanners, it was almost a known fact that they were going deep into the tournament that year. They came ever so close to the championship the year before. After 20-0 regular season finish, they knocked off perennial power Cambridge Rindge and Latin for the Division 1 North title, before being eliminated by Madison Park in the state semis.
Likewise for the Chieftains, they returned 10 players in the 1995-’96 season including their five starters. In ‘93 season, Masconomet lost the championship game to Oxford and was bounced by Westford Academy in the North finals in 1995.
Both teams had the idea of winning a championships embedded in their heads from the get-go and dominated their respective decades. These teams had undeniable raw talent and it wasn’t a fluke that they were crowned champions. They were the ‘it’ teams on the North Shore, with star-studded rosters.
Aside from the titles themselves, what made these two teams the ones to beat and more importantly, why? Was it the star power of Masco’s wiz kid, Brianne Stepherson? And on the other side, was it Kim Foley’s raw talent that did it for Peabody?
An even more interesting question — How would these two championship teams fare against one another?
Right from the start
Peabody head coach Jane Heil has had an illustrious career with the Tanners. Beginning in the late 1970’s, Heil led her teams to 17 Greater Boston League titles, 27 tournament appearances and even earned her 500th career win this winter. But her favorite season of all? That has to be the 1985 state title team, of course.