AC girls handle Gloucester to win D2 North

LOWELL, Mass. -- It was Gloucester’s potent offense against the stingy defense of Arlington Catholic that provided the storyline for this year’s Division 2 North girls basketball final last night.

Taking the court at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, No. 5 Cougars had allowed 32.3 points per game during the tournament. Sixth-seeded Gloucester countered by entering the game with an average 60 points per game in its postseason run.

The Cougars came away with a 62-49 win, sending them to their second D-2 state semifinal appearance in three years. Arlington Catholic will take on the South sectional champion tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the TD Garden.

“It’s a young team and we had to learn a lot at the beginning of the year. The way they came out and put it all together was very nice to see,” Cougars head coach Dave Brady said. “We were adjusting to their offense and knew they were a powerful offense that could score and score fast so our goal was to contain their guards and be consistent with our shots.”

The Fishermen relied on sisters and 5-foot-7 guards Hannah and Heather Cain, a senior and junior respectively, who served as the anchor of the offensive attack. Meanwhile, the Cougars featured their own pair of sisters in 5-foot-9 senior center Rachel Buckley and 5-foot-10 freshman forward Maura Buckley.

“This is really kind of crazy because the beginning of the year no one really thought we were going to get deep into the postseason because we had a pretty young team,” the elder Buckley said. “We knew their guards were really good and we saw the way they shut down Reading and knew it was going to be a classic matchup of a really good offense against a really good defense.”

AC, which had outscored the opposition by 81 points in their previous three games, trailed the majority of the first quarter, quickly dropping into a 12-2 hole. The Cougars took a 17-16 lead off an Erin Klein layup to open the second quarter and never looked back, holding on to a 33-29 lead at the half and a 46-41 advantage after three quarters.

Junior Emma Roberson, a 5-foot-8 guard, led the Cougars with 20 points. Junior Nicole Catizone followed up with 16 points, while Maura Buckley added 15 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Leading the Fishermen were Hannah and Heather Cain, with 16 and 14 points respectively. Audrey Knowlton also added 14 points, while Katrina Munroe sank nine.

“The defense has been the cornerstone of our game all year and we knew it would have to be that way in the postseason as well,” Brady said. “This was one of the most challenging games of the tournament for us and they really stayed composed and level throughout.”