METHUEN — After two straight holiday disappointments at the hands of Westford Academy, Pentucket had no intention of making it three years in a row.
“We lost to them each of the last two years in the Christmas tournament, so this game was really big,” said co-captain Angelica Hurley. “We wanted this really badly. As seniors, this was our last shot at them, so it meant so much for us to get this win.”
Facing a six-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, Pentucket allowed just one more basket the rest of the way, and saw its offense come alive to rally past the Grey Ghosts, 57-48, in the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic Blue Division semifinal.
The Sachems advance to face Central Catholic in the Blue championship on Monday at 7:45 p.m.
“I can’t wait for the championship,” said co-captain Angelina Yacubacci, who scored a game-high 19 points. “We really want Central. We feel like it’s going to be a great game. We have played them before in the Christmas tournament (the Sachems beat CCHS in 2017 and 2016) and we play them in the summer league. I think we will play our best.”
For much of Saturday, it seemed Pentucket was in trouble against Westford, which beat the Sachems 42-32 last winter and 45-42 two years ago.
After trailing 13-10 after a quarter, Pentucket rallied for a 24-23 lead at halftime. The Grey Ghosts, however, played their best in the third and took a 42-36 advantage into the fourth quarter.
“Our aggression had to increase a lot,” said Yacubacci. “They were trapping us underneath on rebounds. We had to make smart passes and smart plays and play tougher.”
Yacubacci led the rally and gave the Sachems the lead by draining a pair of 3-pointers, with a Hurley bucket in between.
Westford tied it up, but Arielle Cleveland knocked down a 3-pointer, then Yacubacci grabbed the in-bounds pass and hit a lay-up. Suddenly, with 1:30 to go, it was 53-48 Pentucket.
“We just needed to relax,” said Hurley, who scored 14 points. “We were too amped up, throwing the ball where it shouldn’t go. But once we settled down, we were OK. That play by (Yacubacci) was really big. It was five quick points, and that really got everyone going.”
Pentucket then needed just to hit free throws, and Hurley and Megan Reading each swished two to ice the win.
The Sachems now move on to face Central Catholic, which beat Bedford (N.H.) 55-34 in the later game.
“I’m so excited for the final,” said Hurley. “It’s a great opportunity for us, as a smaller school, to make the championship game in the Christmas tournament. I can’t wait.”
=Pentucket 57, Westford 48
Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic
Blue Division Semifinals
Westford (48): Ellie Nolan 2 1-3 6, Sara Cannuscio 2 0-3 4, Carly Davey 1 2-2 4, Kate Barnes 1 1-2 4, Ally Giovino 6 3-4 18, Alanna Saunders 1 7-9 9, Tamar Almasian 1 0-0 2, Abby Chambers 0 1-2 1. Totals 14 15-25 48
Pentucket (57): Angelina Yacubacci 7 2-3 19, MacKenzie Currie 4 2-4 10, Angelica Hurley 4 5-7 14, Greta Maurer 1 1-1 3, Arielle Cleveland 3 0-3 8, Anna Wyner 0 1-4 1, Megan Reading 0 2-2 2. Totals 19 13-24 57
3-pointers: P — Angelica Hurley, Angelica Yacubacci 3, Arielle Cleveland 2; W — Kate Barnes, Ally Giovino 3, Ellie Nolan
Westford (1-2): 13 10 19 6 — 48
Pentucket (3-0): 10 14 12 21 — 57