LAWRENCE — A little thing like a charley horse wasn’t going to take Kelsi McNamara out of this game. There was too much at stake.
When the diminutive sophomore bumped knees with a Central Catholic defender in the late stages of the third quarter, she not only missed just a minute of playing time, she spearheaded a defensive effort that yielded just 10 points over the final nine minutes.
Also sparked by a crushing 3-pointer from McKenna Kilian and by Coley Viselli’s 1,000th career point, the Sachems drew away for their second straight IAABO Board 130 Tourney title, 59-49 over the host Raiders.
“My leg got better since I forgot about it,” said McNamara, the tourney MVP who finished with 21 points including three first-half 3-pointers that kept Pentucket in the lead. “When I thought about it, it hurt, so I got it out of my mind.”
Psychology played a key role in the Sachems’ victory, particularly from seniors like Viselli (11 points), Alex Moore (9 points) and Tess Nogueira (11 points and 10 rebounds).
“We’re always working hard on defense, but sometimes we need to calm down on offense,” she said. “We shoot too fast, and it’s important for us to get everybody involved. The seniors always calm us down when we get rattled.”
It was hard to figure that Viselli would have had the energy to settle her teammates down considering she drew the short straw, guarding mobile 6-foot forward Casey McLaughlin all day long. The senior finished up with a game-high 22 points but needed 21 shots to get there due to Viselli’s blanketing.
As a team, Pentucket (now 20-1) made Central (16-5) work to convert 18 field goals on 65 attempts (28 percent), shrinking that to seven percent in the fourth quarter (1 for 14).
“Scoring wasn’t a top priority for me (yesterday),” Viselli said. “I knew (Casey) would get her points, I just had to limit her. It was a lot of work and it takes it’s toll, but the fact we were able to hold them off was definitely a factor at the end.”