Pentucket’s offense never seemed to click last night and, following the contest, Sachems coach John McNamara admitted that injuries took a major toll on his squad yesterday.
Starting guard Alex Moore was battling an injury to her shooting arm while backcourt mate Kelsi McNamara was dealing with a knee injury — both suffered in the North final.
Meanwhile, Coley Vilselli injured her ankle in the first quarter, remaining on the floor for more than a minute. She retuned to the game, but never found her stride.
Moore was the most hindered. She left the Tsongas Center on Saturday with a splint on her arm after taking a hard fall in the third quarter. But, at the time, she was confident she would be ready for Monday.
“Alex couldn’t shoot the ball,” said McNamara. “We had to play her as a decoy. Give her credit, she went out there and fought. Yesterday she couldn’t reach the rim. She played almost the whole game with one hand.
“We were all banged up. Coley, Kelsi too. But our kids competed like crazy. It shows hard tough they really are.”
Nogueira fights till end
It seemed a little unfair that Pentucket senior Tess Nogueira’s high school basketball career ended on a touchy foul with just over two minutes left yesterday, her fifth of the state semifinal.
For four years, Nogueira has scraped, clawed, fought and overcome pain to contribute as powerhouse Pentucket’s go-to post player.
If her career had to end on fouls, it should not have been on two iffy calls.
“Tess has been a great all-around player for us,” said John McNamara. “She has had a great career. Not many kids can say they made it to the Garden the last four years.”
The 6-foot Nogueira’s key role has always been fighting under the boards, battling for rebounds and defending players often much bigger than her — like last night against Archbishop William 6-foot-3 force Jaylen Williams.
“She just battles,” said Archie coach Jim Bancroft. “We always wanted to get a body on her all the time because we knew how good she was on the offensive boards. We really wanted to limit her put-backs.”
Hardly just a center, Nogueira also often handled ballhandling duties, could shoot from the outside and did just about anything the Sachems needed.
“There aren’t many girls her size that handle the ball that well,” said McNamara. “She has always worked hard and done anything we asked from her.”
Archies’ coach: We never felt safe
Archbishop Williams girls basketball coach Jim Bancroft said he didn’t really get to relax until the final seconds of the game, about 30 seconds after Pentucket made wholesale substitutions.
“They are one tough team, all of them,” said Bancroft. “They all drive the basket and dribble penetrate, and kick the ball out. It’s impressive to watch. But they also have a few girls that are deadly shooters. This was a tough matchup for us.”
Youth on their side
While Archbishop Williams might be the team to beat in Saturday’s Div. 3 state final in Worcester, from looking at their roster it appears they will be the team to beat for next three years, too.
Archies started a 6-3 sophomore (Jaylen Williams), a 6-foot sophomore (Alana Gilmer) as well as a 6-1 junior center (Olivia Conrad), all of whom combined for 30 rebounds and 29 points in last night’s 52-38 win.
The best of the bunch might be their “sixth man,” freshman Victoria Dean, who chipped in with seven.
Why not a regular season meeting?
These two programs have met four times in the Division 3 semifinal since the 2007 season. The Archies and Pentucket certainly have become familiar foes and heated rivals in the postseason. Now, how about the regular season?
Wouldn’t it be fun to see these two play during the season?
“Maybe,” Archies coach Jim Bancroft said. “I never thought about it. Our schedule is usually pretty full already. But sometimes teams drop off ... that’s not a bad idea. I’ll have to look at what we’ve got coming up.”