“I was taught by a professor in college that you get what you expect,” Heil noted. “You can create a positive atmosphere. My bar was always set incredibly high. From the scouting we had done that year to the players we had, it all played a part.”
Heil’s Tanners had gone 117-25 in her first seven years and 94-10 in the GBL. They were a favorite to win it all right from the start. All of the papers had them pegged as the next title team. Each year one of their goals would be to go further in the tournament than the previous season. That winter of ‘84, Heil said that her goal for that season was the sky.
“If you don’t think that’s pressure,” said Heil. “We had never won a championship before. It wasn’t like we were Central Catholic or Andover.”
The Tanners were a little wary of what would become of returning point guard Diane McGovern who had mono in the fall, but had the 6-foot-1 Foley returning as their prized possession and the GBL’s leading scorer (20 ppg). Tracey Spencer (5-foot-10) was also back and by the team the first game against Cambridge rolled around, so was McGovern.
Division 2 Masco on the other hand just wrapped up its first season under new head coach Bob Cleary. The past three years for the Chieftains had consisted of three Cape Ann League titles, an Eastern Mass. championship and made two North sectional appearances— to say they were due for a state title was an understatement.
So, the Chieftains went out and strengthened their regular season schedule in order to be ready for tougher opponents come tournament time. They added Division 1 powers Methuen and Fontbonnee.
Senior Catey Peters, who finished her career at Masco with 1,359 points and over 1,000 rebounds, was back as was Heather Hover, Cari MacGregor, Stephanie McArdle and Brianne Stepherson. Though only in her sophomore year, Stepherson began her fourth season as a starter with the Chieftains that winter, having played on varsity since seventh grade — which was unheard of.