In their quest for the program’s first Division 2 North championship, the North Reading girls’ basketball team scored 12 points in the first 16 minutes against defending state champion Pentucket on Saturday afternoon.
But the Hornets drained four 3-pointers in the second half on the way to knocking off top-seeded Pentucket, 41-36, at Tsongas Center in Lowell.
With 1:30 left in the first half, North Reading trailed by 8, but senior Lauren Sullivan hit back-to-back threes and the seventh-seeded Hornets (13-8) had cut the deficit to 2. More importantly, it shifted the game’s momentum.
“We were nervous in the first and second quarter,” said Sullivan, who finished with 16 points. “[The 3-pointers] settled us down. It settled me down for sure. We started to play like we normally do.”
North Reading made no substitutions through all 32 minutes. Even without a break, the Hornets’ starting five played strong defense and snared key rebounds.
“The pace of the game helped us because we didn’t get gassed,” said North Reading coach Bob Romano. “If you are going to play five kids for 32 minutes it can’t be a track meet, or someone is going to get tired.”
North Reading will play South champion Foxborough (22-2) in a state semifinal Wednesday at TD Garden (5:30 p.m.).
Andover 57, Cambridge 52 — When Tatum Shaw found herself open on the left wing late in the fourth quarter, the star junior guard didn’t hesitate in delivering the crucial shot Andover needed to create some separation from Cambridge in the D1 North final at the Tsongas Center.
“It just felt like any other shot,” Shaw said of her 3-pointer with 1:45 left which gave the Golden Warriors a pivotal two-possession lead. “I just wanted to make it so I could help my teammates and we could win the game.”
The next possession down, Shaw attempted a 3-pointer from the same spot, and although it did not fall, freshman Anna Foley (12 points, 5 rebounds) was there to clean up the miss. The mini 5-0 spurt put the finishing touches on sixth-seeded Andover’s victory.
With the win, Andover (18-6) captured its second Division 1 North title in four years and advances to play South champion Bridgewater-Raynham in a state semifinal at TD Garden on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.).
"When we need a big basket she doesn't hesitate," Andover coach Alan Hibino said of Shaw, who finished with 14 points and five steals. "We always say shoot when you're hot and shoot to get hot. That was a pretty deep one but she didn't bat an eye."
Andover controlled the first half of play, keeping Cambridge’s dynamic offense led by Sophia Vital to just 2 of 15 shooting from behind the arc.
But in the second half, Vital (21 points, 6 assists) found sharpshooter Kizziah Ruff (16 points) for a 3-pointer and then converted a three-point play to put Cambridge ahead.
With Andover leading 49-48, Shaw’s 3-pointer helped them pull away.
Andover reached the Division 1 state semifinal in 2017, but that game was moved from TD Garden to WPI because of a snowstorm. Seniors Brooke Hardock (11 points) and Shea Krekorian (5 points, 6 rebounds) were members of that team as freshmen and now will now get a chance to play on the famous parquet floor.
“It’s just as special winning it but it’s kinda redemption getting to play at the Garden,” Krekorian said.
St. Mary’s 59, Amesbury 44 — As the longtime coach at St. Mary’s, Jeff Newhall has seemingly made an annual trek over to Tsongas Center for the MIAA North final.
So much so, the coach joked after winning his Spartans had captured their second straight sectional crown, “I think I’m going to try to get some nonleague games in here.”
Newhall is now 5-0 at Tsongas after St. Mary’s pulled away in a rematch of the 2019 final. But Saturday’s game carried a far different cadence than when the teams met two weeks ago, an 88-45 rout for the hosts at the Spartan Classic in Lynn.
Amesbury (20-3) came out aggressively against the Spartan press, and forced St. Mary’s into early foul trouble. Every time it looked as if St. Mary’s was going to pull away, Amesbury made a run, closing the deficit to 5 at halftime. But that was a close as the Indians would come. St. Mary’s outscored Amesbury, 19-12, in the final frame.
Junior forward Maiya Bergdorf (14 points, 7 rebounds) and senior guard Olivia Matela (12 points) paced St. Mary’s (22-3), which will face South champion Rockland (22-2) in a state semifinal Wednesday at TD Garden (2 p.m.).
The Spartans move one step closer to getting back to the state final, where they fell by 17 to Western Mass. power Hoosac Valley.
“We’ve had a history at St. Mary’s of playing well the year after a tough loss, and there’s nothing tougher than losing in a state final,” Newhall said. “I think these kids really got back to work, and fought every minute to get to this point.”
Allison Napoli had 12 points for Amesbury.
Matt Doherty and Brendan Hall also reported from Lowell.