BOSTON -– Pentucket slowly build its lead quarter by quarter before pulling away with a 53-39 victory over Fairhaven in the MIAA Division 3 Girls Eastern Mass. Final tonight at TD Garden.
Led by the charge of senior forward Sarah Higgins, the Sachems outscored the Blue Devils in every quarter except the second, where each team struggled and only produced five points apiece.
“I definitely did not want to see us lose,” said Higgins, whose score line (20 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four steals) spoke this sentiment loud and clear. “Especially because when I’m older and I look back at one of these games and think, ‘Oh, I could’ve done that differently… I really wish we had won’ because winning the state championship sounds way better than losing the state championship.”
Higgins had a strong first quarter, as did Pentucket’s Nicole Viselli (two 3-pointers), but the star of the first set in this series was Fairhaven’s junior guard Ashley Brown. Having accumulated two rebounds and seven points, her last coming on the completion of a three point play, Brown put Fairhaven (22-3) ahead by one at 13-12 late in the first.
With 1:16 left in the first though, diving for a loose ball, Brown hit the scorer’s table next to the court, falling to the ground and grabbing at her face and neck. She was surrounded by staff and medical technicians for several minutes before being put into a brace, lifted onto a gurney. She did not to return to the court.
Pentucket (22-4) took the lead in the last minute of the quarter, however, to lead 14-13. The second quarter saw the teams knot up at 16 briefly, but Pentucket went up by one going into the half at 19-18. The only player to score for Fairhaven in the second was senior forward Kara Charette, who ended the game with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We settled down at halftime,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara. “For the first minute we were still a little flustered but once Sarah got a few easy baskets and we were able to put our press on, I think we did a great job in containing them in the second half.”
By the end of the third quarter, the Sachems were able to stretch the lead out to six at 34-28 and the start of the fourth quarter indicated that they were going to elongate that stretch by any means necessary. With 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, Higgins executed a three-point play to extend the lead out to nine with 7:40 left in the game.
Fairhaven would come within eight at 43-35 midway through the fourth quarter, but the damage had been done, and the Blue Devils fight turned into a bard to be sung for the defeated brave, while Pentucket’s star is still on the rise.
Long Shot: According to the roster and the bent necks in the media room, Pentucket’s 5-foot-5 freshman guard Kelsie McNamara is the shortest person on the team. But when McNamara drained three pointers in the fourth quarter, and added a 1-2 free throw showing to round out her ten points, she seemed colossal, even in the middle of the famed parquet floor.
“It was a little nerve-wrecking at first," she said. "But once the game starts going, I get more used to it and get more in control playing.” McNamara was active without the ball as well, racking up a steal, a block and a rebound as well.
Father Knows Best: “Last night, my dad told me that I should always envision myself finishing and staying positive,” Higgins beamed after the game. “So that’s all I was thinking about before I went to bed, and today when I was at school I was thinking, ‘Righty lay-ups, lefty lay-ups, foul shots’. Now that I went out there, I didn’t think about it too much and it just came to me.”