D3 North Girls: Pentucket 49, Ipswich 30

LOWELL, Mass. -- Pentucket coach John McNamara and his Sachems girls basketball program has its share of history in the Division 3 North tournament. But for this year's team, those were mostly just memories.

Freshman and sophomores during the Pentucket's 2010 state finals loss, the now upperclassmen Sachems are two year removed from the team that went to four consecutive sectional final appearances and are looking to set their own legacy.

After a 49-30 trumping of No. 4 seed Ipswich (18-5) in this morning's final at the Tsongas Center, No. 3 seed Pentucket (20-4) has made it clear the girls are ready to make their own mark.

The Sachems will play Division 3 South winners Fairhaven (22-2) in the TD Garden in Boston on Tuesday.

“This is their legacy now,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara. “They were part of that team, but these kids have done it own their own for the first time. They have taken their team to the (TD) Garden.”

The Sachems opened in dominate fashion by forcing nine first quarter turnovers to pull ahead 9-0 at the four minute mark. After grappling a pair of steals, senior Sarah Higgins used a screen off the passing motion to lay-in Pentucket's its ninth point.

Higgins was a powerful presence both counter-attacking and forcing turnovers at mid-court. The forward lead Pentucket with 12 points, five steals and five rebounds. Teammate junior Alex Moore also scored 10 points.

“I am hoping for five second calls, “ said Higgins. “They look to somebody to put on the ball pressure and force as many turnovers as possible. I want to get in their head and show what I am a defensive player.”

Struggling to score from outside the arc, Ipswich began pressuring the paint early in the second quarter to produce their lowest deficit of the night. Positioning her body out front Bridget Curran drew a pair of free throws, while Julia Davis (both juniors) caught a give-and-go off the 3-point line to cut the score to 12-9 at 5:50.

“We did a better job moving the ball weak side,” said Ipswich coach Mandy Zegarowski. “We were a little more patient with the pressure and clogged up the middle. I think it was just getting the ball over the halfway point and setting up the offense.”

Up 14-10, the Sachems scored 16 straight to put away the Tigers in the final three minutes of the half. A pair of layups by juniors Nicole Viselli and Tess Noguera off breakaways opened the run. While strong motion around the arc and a half-court buzzer beater sent Pentucket into the break up 30-10.

“We focused in practice on eliminating their point guard and big players,” said Zegarowski. “We needed or defense to start creating turnovers. It is a lot easier to score on the fast break when they are trying to set up their zone offense.”

An eight straight point run from Masey Zegarowski in the fourth proved to little to late for Ipswich as they failed to ever cut the second half margin into single-digits. The freshman topped the Tigers in scoring with eight points.

“Last year was a real upset not to get to the Garden,” said Higgins. “I am so happy my senior year we made it there. It is what Pentucket girls' basketball is all about.”