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February 25, 2014

One loss and one goal: Central looks to repeat as Division 1 champs

Central Catholic girls hoping to get hot again with Walsh leading the way

Central Catholic should feel much more comfortable entering the Division 1 North tourney this winter than it did last year.

The 2012-13 regular season was a strange one for the Raiders who boasted so much talent but lost to Andover once, North Andover once, Billerica twice and then Pentucket in the finale.

Those five losses didn’t matter, though, after Central played with tremendous urgency during the playoffs, winning six straight contests by an average of 18.2 points per game on its way to winning the Division 1 state title.

This time around, the Raiders enter the tourney fresh off a much better regular season. They went 19-1 with their only defeat against Westford Academy, 49-42, in the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic.

Since then, the Raiders have dominated while Westford — which has been moved to the Division 1 Central bracket — has lost four games.

“Last year, we didn’t have the best record going into the tournament but honestly, as this point, the regular season is over ... and our record doesn’t mean anything,” Central senior Courtney Walsh said.

Central, the No. 2 seed, earned a first-round bye and plays the winner of Peabody/Reading at 7 p.m. Saturday at home.

“If we play our best game, I think we should really be able to take on anyone,” said Walsh.

Casey McLaughlin, then a senior, willed Central to the title last year, averaging 23.2 points in six tourney games.

This year, Central has multiple scorers, including Walsh, Amanda Williams, Caitlin Dell’Orfano and Alex Nagri, who could step up and will the Raiders to a win on any given night.

Anyone on Central has the chance of being the hero this postseason. There probably will be multiples heroes. That’s why Central is in a fairly strong position to repeat as Division 1 champs.

Walsh, who will play at Stonehill with McLaughlin next year, netted 23 points in Central’s first win over Billerica, 19 points in another win over the Indians, 23 points against Lawrence and 21 points at Andover.

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