EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 9, 2013

Super Saturday

5 area hoop teams gun for North titles at Tsongas today

Today will test even the most ardent, devoted area sports fan.

A marathon sectional title Saturday of basketball lies ahead at Tsongas Center in Lowell.

Six championship games, five carrying a local interest tip off this morning at 10:30 a.m. and roll right into the night.

Can man (or woman) live on pretzels, hot dogs and fried dough alone? Certainly, a handful of hoop junkies will find out today.

Here’s a look at the Tsongas slate:

Division 2 Girls, 10:30 a.m.

No. 1 Reading (22-0) vs. No. 6 North Andover (15-8)

Richmond-bound Olivia Healy and the defending state champion Rockets will look to end North Andover’s Cinderella postseason.

Healy averages 26.8 points a game for the unbeaten top seeds.

North Andover, after a slow start in the quarterfinals, has outscored the opposition 115-58 over the last seven quarters. To say that Morgan Lumb and company are playing their best ball now would be the understatement of the entire North sectional.

Division 2 Boys, 12:15 p.m.

No. 2 North Andover (19-4) vs. No. 5 Brighton (18-6)

Juniors Malik James and Nick Simpson proved too much for previously unbeaten Melrose in the semifinals, but can they handle the hardened, tourney-tough Knights?

Derek Collins had the best game of his career on Wednesday night against Wakefield, while the big guys Isaiah Nelsen and Chris Bardwell continue to steamroll the opposition.

North Andover returns to the title game for the first time since 2007. This is coach Mike McVeigh’s fourth trip to the North finals in 31 seasons.

Division 3 Girls, 2 p.m.

No. 1 Pentucket (23-1) vs. No. 11 Watertown (13-10)

Coley Viselli and the Sachems have the talent and the resume to defend their state title, the school’s first winter season state championship in 58 years. There was a collective gasp when point guard Kelsi McNamara left the semifinal with what looked like a knee injury. The sophomore proclaimed herself fine afterward. Watertown is anchored by sisters Gianna and Gabrielle Coppola and continues to be the talk of the D3 North sectional with a pair of upset wins.

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