BEVERLY — Beverly High appears to have enough talent and desire to qualify for the state tournament this season, but it hit a bump in the road here last night.

The bump is known as Swampscott. Realistically, Swampscott can be a bump for any team in Eastern Mass.

Beverly made the Big Blue work for it, but just when the Panthers were making things interesting midway through the third quarter, Swampscott’s Kara Gilberg went on a personal 10-0 run, turning a relatively close game into a runaway as coach Jack Hughes’ team cruised, 61-36, in the Northeastern Conference showdown.

The win pushed Swampscott to 13-1. Beverly is 8-5.

“That was a little different for us,” said Hughes. “Beverly is good and they were able to run with us. They also played a defense (1-3-1 zone) that we’re not used to seeing and we had some trouble with it. But I thought we played good defense ourselves. I don’t think we gave Beverly any easy shots.”

The Panthers held high-scoring Swampscott to 23 points in the opening half and forced Hughes to call a timeout with 4:02 left in the third quarter after a 6-0 Beverly run sliced the Big Blue’s lead to 32-23.

Gilberg, who has been Swampscott’s third leading scorer this season, then made Hughes look like a genius. First, she drained a three from the wing and followed it up with a fast break bucket to stretch it to 37-23. She then made another shot from behind the arc and, as if that wasn’t enough, Gilberg converted off a steal to make it 42-23. Gilberg finished with 17 points.

Tara Nimkar, who scored 18 of her game-high 26 points in the second half, closed out the third quarter with a pair of baskets to make it 46-25.

“The steals that (Gilberg) made — we see that all the time,” said Hughes. “She’s so quick and she has great anticipation. But it was really good to see her hit those threes. We’ve been telling her that if she’s open, she has to take the shot. She’d prefer to drive and make the pass.”

Beverly, which got limited minutes from starter Kellie Shea (who was in the hospital last week with an infection) played a feisty game but couldn’t match Swampscott’s offensive firepower. Jess Shaw paced the Panthers with 12 points, Meghan Chatellier added nine and Jen Ashton had seven.

Allie Beaulieu kept Swampscott afloat in a cold first half by scoring 10 of her 13 points. Nimkar caught fire in the second half while Gilberg was steady throughout.

“We’re coming off back-to-back overtime games and Kellie has been sick, but no excuses,” said Beverly coach Matt Smith. “That’s a good team. (The outcome) was as much them as it was us.”

Despite the margin of victory, Swampscott feels it can play even better.

“I’d say we were a seven (on a scale of 10) tonight,” said Nimkar, who was deadly with both her midrange and inside game in the second half. “That was because of our (low scoring) first half. But we had our focus on defense and we pulled it together.”

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