EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 20, 2013

Central leads awards as area's best team

Central went from dead in the water to state champions, North Andover played in its first Division 2 North final in 21 years and defending Division 3 champion Pentucket put together another 20-plus win season

It certainly was another exciting year in girls high school basketball.

Without further ado, here are this year’s awards:

Top team: Central

The Raiders did look dead in the water Feb. 18 when they lost by 10 points to Division 3 Pentucket to end the regular season with an unimpressive 16-5 record.

But Central dominated the postseason, winning its four Division 1 North playoffs games by an average of 24.5 points per game.

Central then won a 55-51 over favorite Braintree in the Division 1 semifinal and posted a 53-48 victory over Holy Name in the title game. The Raiders — led by Stonehill-bound star Casey McLaughlin — out-hustled every opponent down the stretch.

Most improved player: Kelsi McNamara

The Pentucket sophomore, who averaged 5.1 points per game last year, was much improved this winter. She averaged 10.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 3.5 spg and converted 33 3-pointers.

She was named MVP at the Central Catholic IAABO Board 130 Tournament.

Most inspirational: Karisha Jimenez

For several months last year, the basketball court at Lawrence High was Jimenez’s home as she and her family lost their own home during summer 2011 after being unable to pay the rent. The state moved them into the Best Western in Haverhill.

Jimenez continued to play last year though. She and her family overcame their difficult situation and now live in a three-floor building on Alder Street in Lawrence. Jimenez took on an even bigger role this year for Lawrence High as a co-captain.

Most improved team: Methuen

The Rangers went 12-10, including winning a first-round Division 1 North playoff game against Peabody.

Methuen earned its first playoff berth since the 2009-10 season and won three games against MVC Large opponents after failing to win a division game in each of its first two seasons in the MVC Large.

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