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March 7, 2013

Slow start, devastating finish

Sachems whip Ipswich, return to North finals

BEVERLY — With about two minutes gone in the second half, it was gut-check time.

Opening the second half with a quick 5-0 spurt, Ipswich pulled ahead for just the second time in the game.

More importantly, Pentucket sophomore point guard Kelsi McNamara (15 points, 6 steals) limped off the court with a knee injury.

Calling a timeout, coach John McNamara regrouped his team and put the ball in his best player’s hands. Senior captain Coley Viselli (13 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) settled her team down and Pentucket won going away, 46-26.

The 23-1 Green Machine will face Cinderella Watertown (13-10) in the Division 3 North final at Tsongas Arena on Saturday at a time to be determined.

After a terrible shooting performance by the Sachems from outside in the first half, Viselli went into attack mode.

The Sachems made nine trips to the line in the second half and buried 16 of 18 free throws, going 13 for 13 before Alex Moore (7 points, 4 rebounds) finally missed one with the team up 41-26.

“It’s what we needed to do. (Coach) said, ‘Attack, they can’t stop you if you attack.’ So we decided, ‘Oh, we’ll listen to you,’ and we attacked hard,” Viselli said.

With her knee wrapped, McNamara returned later in the third quarter and made her presence felt.

Cape Ann League rival Ipswich (19-4) trailed just 27-24 after a Caroline Soucy 3-pointer. But Viselli found a wide open McNamara for a dagger 3 and Ipswich scored just one more basket the rest of the game.

“I think I landed on my foot and tried to turn, and my knee twisted, but I think it’s fine, it is fine,” McNamara said of her injury. “I knew I needed to go back in because this could be our last game. I wasn’t as fast as I normally am and not as good on defense, so Coley kept telling me she was always there to help me if I got beat. I knew that I could rely on the team.”

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