Recap: No. 8 Pentucket 59, No. 7 Billerica 39

WEST NEWBURY, Mass. –- The Pentucket Sachems hit eight 3-pointers in the first three quarters on their way to a 59-39 win over the Billerica Indians on Wednesday night.

Pentucket’s (6-0) offense was led by the sharp-shooting tandem of Kelsi McNamara (15 points) and McKenna Kilian (13). The sophomore guards scored 19 of their combined 28 points in the second half, with McNamara nailing three big 3-pointers out of the halftime break.

“Coming out of the half we wanted to get the game going our style and we can shoot threes,” Pentucket head coach John McNamara said after the game. “If teams are going to play zone, someone is going to get the hot hand. It was just a matter of finding that kid.”

The reigning MIAA Division 3 State Champions led at the end of each of the first three quarters, and used timely shooting and their patented pressure defense to keep the game at a comfortable margin throughout.

“We get tired of hearing that we are a D3 school,” McNamara said. “We can play with anyone. There are a lot of good D3 teams.”

Leading 46-35 after three quarters the Sachems shot Billerica out of their 2-3 zone and held the Indians to just four fourth quarter points to secure the twenty-point victory.

“We are not a big team, so if we have the look we are going to take it,” McNamara said. “We will shoot threes in transition and I am confident we will hit more than we miss.”

Despite being held scoreless in the second half, UMass Lowell-bound point guard Brittany Lomanno led Billerica with 10 points, five assists and three steals on the evening. Lomanno also did a good job pushing the pace for the Indians on both ends of the floor early in the game.

Pentucket senior forward Tess Nogueira was the only other Sachem in double-figures, as the versatile forward netted 12 points on the night.

Senior guards Coley Viselli (nine points) and Alex Moore (six points, two blocks) also played well for Pentucket in the win.

“All of our guards work really hard and they know when to move the ball and when to shoot,” Nogueira said.

Rebounding edge: Kilian led Pentucket on the evening with eight rebounds, but Pentucket used team rebounding and aggressive on ball play to keep Billerica off the glass.

“We worked on it the past couple of days because we knew they were bigger than us,” McNamara said. “We knew we could not play one of those post-players one-on-one by themselves so we had one kid digging from the weak side. The girls pretty much did a great job.”

Underrated Nogueira: Nogueria also pulled down six rebounds to go with three assists on the night.

“She is a unique player for a six-footer,” McNamara said. “She is not a natural post player but she can do anything for us. She can defend a point guard if we want her to. She is one of the most unsung players in the state, especially since she does not score 20 points a game. She does a lot of other things.”

Nogueira helped control the paint and held the Billerica post game in check all evening.

“I try to do whatever I can out there,” Nogueira said. “I will fill whatever role I am needed to fill and will be up for the challenge.”

Schedules: Pentucket gets back to action on Friday when they host Newburyport. Pentucket is fresh off a championship win at the York (Maine) holiday tournament where they defeated Dover (N.H.) and host York in the finals. McNamara and Viselli were named to the All-Tournament team.

Billerca continues a very difficult part of their schedule when they host impressive Merrimack Valley Conference newcomer North Andover on Friday night. They'll follow up that matchup with upcoming games against top MVC teams Central Catholic, Methuen and Andover.