Comcast tourney: Reading, AC win girls semis

READING, Mass. -- No. 2 Reading outscored Bishop Feehan 46-18 in the second half of its Comcast/IAABO Board 27 Basketball Classic semifinal matchup Saturday on its way to a 63-46 victory at the Hawkes Field House at Reading High.

The Rockets (18-0) move on to face No. 4 Arlington Catholic (19-1), which beat No. 10 Masconomet 45-37 in the other semifinal matchup.

The first half was a strange one for Reading. After beating five of its last six opponents by over 20 points, making baskets became a tough task. Did it have something to do with having to play its second game in as many days? Who knows?

“I think we were getting good looks (in the first half),” said Reading coach Kim Penney. “That’s a very good team that we beat, and the kids knew that. I think the kids were surprised they were getting the looks that they got.”

“We were also a step ahead of ourselves, as far as the next thing that we wanted to do. We were moving to the basket before we caught the ball. I’ve never seen anything like that. At halftime I was like, ‘Where is my team?”

Feehan (12-5) spend much of the first half in transition, taking advantage of the Rockets' missed opportunities. The Shamrocks went into the half ahead 28-17.

But Reading came out and asserted itself from the start of the third quarter, outscoring Feehan 29-8 in the third and at one point going on a 20-0 run.

“They came out and blew right by us, said Feehan coach Mike Deady. “I came and watched them play the other night and came away feeling, ‘Hey, we can play with them,’ but everything they’ve gotten in terms of publicity and notoriety is well-deserved. That’s a fine basketball team. That’s one of the best shooting teams I’ve ever seen.”

“They didn’t shoot well in the first half, and we didn’t give up any second chances, but we gave up a lot in the second half,” he added. “It really hurt us. When they missed shots in the first half, we got out in transition. Then they didn’t miss any. It was just enough to slow us down. They did a nice job.”

Leading the charge for Reading was junior Olivia Healy, who had 29 points (including five 3-pointers) and five rebounds. Marissa Cicchetti was the top scorer for Feehan with 16 points and 3 steals.

Physical battles: Points were also hard to come by in the Arlington Catholic-Masconoment game. With AC playing a full-court press and Masco (16-3) using a half-court trap for much of the game, it was the definition of having to work for every basket you could get.

“It was really well-defended on both sides,” said Arlington Catholic coach Dave Brady. “It’s tournament basketball, so everyone’s playing hard. When two teams go at it, sometimes it’s pretty and sometimes it’s just tough. Tonight, I guess, was a combination of both.”

The teams barely scored 20 points each by the time the half came around. With 10 seconds left in the half and 3 seconds on the shot clock, AC’s Nicole Catizone (10 points, three rebounds) heaved a shot up, hoping to avoid a shot clock violation. Not only did the shot bank high off the backboard and go in, but a defender fouled her as she was landing on her feet, making it a 4-point opportunity.

She made the free throw, and AC went into hafltime up 25-20.

The teams stayed close with each other. AC’s lead was never more than 6 points until the final minute of the game, when Masco was forced to foul and send AC to the free throw line to stop the clock.

Pressing matters: Arlington Catholic’s goal all game was to limit Masco’s possessions as much as possible. By playing the full-court press, Brady thought that would be his team’s best chance of doing that.

“I wanted to limit their possessions, but I knew it would limit ours too,” he said. “I thought we were strong defensively and they could wear us down with the offenses they run. Putting somebody on a great player is going to wear them down a little bit.

"Basically I was trying to pressure the players other than Brooke Stewart that had the ball and hopefully get a couple turnovers here and there. We wanted to make them take some time off the clock. They run wonderful offenses, so maybe now they’re running it with 18 seconds on the clock instead of 25.”

Stewart, a William & Mary commit, had 15 points and seven rebounds. She was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.

Roberson shines: As the game was winding down, it looked like AC’s senior guard Emma Roberson was playing at a different speed than everyone else on the floor. While others were struggling to maintain a sufficient pace and putting up shots, Roberson was driving strong to the basket helping AC keeping its lead. She finished with 18 points (7-of-10 on free throws), 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.

“Those are basically below Emma’s usual stats,” said Brady with a laugh. “She’s been a big rebound player for us, someone who can do everything. I think at at the end of the game we were trying to get the ball into her hands, but with her rebounding she seems to get the ball into her hands one way or another.

"She’s an energy player. She’s kind of like a John Havlicek-type person who can play a lot and stay strong.”

Finals matchup: Reading and Arlington Catholic will meet in the finals of the Comcast Basketball Classic Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Hawkes Field House. It will be the third game in three days for the Rockets.

“It should be another good game for us,” said Penney. “We’re tired, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. I think we just need to get back on our feet again. Tomorrow will be a good game.”