(West Newbury) It is not often that you see two good teams have so much trouble shooting and taking care of the ball.
But those on hand at Pentucket High School saw a night full of misfiring and mishandles before the Sachems (15-1) eked out a, 44-43, overtime win over Masconomet (11-3) on Friday night in Cape Ann League action.
No question the key to the Pentucket win was the steady play of Tess Nogueira. The 6-foot senior led all scorers with twenty points and owned the boards.
Masco had Pentucket on the ropes (40-36 with 1:11 left) in regulation. However, a Tess Nogueira offensive rebound and two Chieftain turnovers opened the door for the Sachems to get back and get overtime.
The four-minute overtime fit perfectly into the pattern established in regulation – missed opportunities galore. Masco didn’t make any shot until the final buzzer!
Kelsi McNamara missed two free throws with 2 ½ minutes remaining in OT. However, Tess Nogueira made two with 1:02 to go and Pentucket had a 42-40 lead.
Nicole Femino (14 points) then missed both free throws with forty-three seconds left but a Pentucket turnover gave Masco another chance with fourteen seconds left.
However, the visitors messed up the inbounds pass (Tess was in the vicinity of where the pass went) and now the Chieftains were forced to foul (Kelsi McNamara) with 7.7 seconds left. Kelsi had missed two earlier in OT but this time she connected twice to give the Sachems a four-point advantage.
Good thing, for Pentucket, that Kelsi made both of them because Nicole Femino tossed in a buzzer-beating three.
It is easy to harp on the poor shooting and turnovers and forget that both teams are loaded with tireless defenders. In a gym that is always tropical, the wear-and-tear of facing game-long Pentucket pressure will usually cause trouble. By my count, the Chieftains had thirty turnovers.
Another factor in the Masco loss was Claudia Marsh getting into foul trouble. Claudia picked up her third foul late in the first half and fouled out late in the game. Her strong defense on Tess Nogueira was sorely missed for many minutes. Claudia scored a basket at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
There were ten lead changes and neither team was able to get ahead by more than four points.
Meghan Collins and Kate Kitsakos connected on consecutive three’s in the fourth quarter.
Kassidy Kennefick came off the Sachem bench in the first quarter to hit a quick long one.
One of the biggest baskets in the game was a jump shot in the lane by McKenna Kilian off a missed Kelsi McNamara shot in the last thirty seconds of regulation.
Pentucket was determined to spread the Masco man-to-man defense and get to the hoop for layups or foul shots. On this night making the layups, under heavy Masco defensive pressure, was difficult. The Sachems did get thirty-four free throws out of attacking the basket and made twenty-two of them. Tess Nogueira was 10-for-14.
This game featured two of the areas most successful coaches. John McNamara in his 7th season with Pentucket is now 149-19. Bob Romeo in his 11th season is 175-51.
Pentucket won the first meeting in December with Masco, 45-33.
Pentucket suffered its only loss of the season on January 26th at Hingham against Division 2 Notre Dame. A week earlier, at Pentucket, the Sachems had won.
Masconomet hosts Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday. Pentucket will visit North Reading on the same day.
Good crowd on hand. We saw some organized Sachem support late in the game.
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge if you click on them.)