LAWRENCE — Pentucket's 6-foot center Tess Nogueira has had some trouble finishing around the basket this winter.
She's not the only one on her team.
"Coach Mac, coach Beaton, they are both out there with the pads slamming us when we are taking our layups (in practice) and we've had to run a lot after missed layups," Nogueira said. "I think we've finally got it into our heads that we need to finish."
Nogueira finished extremely well last night while pouring in 19 points in a 59-41 victory over Central Catholic in the championship game of the Board 130 Basketball Classic.
Nogueira also collected nine rebounds and was named tournament MVP. She netted 29 points in two tourney games.
"Tessie, we have always been on her to finish in practice, and now in games she has definitely come forward and is definitely one of the better players," Pentucket's Sarah Higgins said.
Nogueira's 19 points was her season high. You have to think that if Nogueira can continue to score inside like she did last night, then the Sachems will be able to make another deep postseason run.
"It's always nice to score more points, but it's all about it being a team game," Nogueira said. "And if I have more assists than points in a game, I'm fine with that. I just try to get the ball moving. If I score points, it's great."
Central has been dealing with injuries. Strong shooter Caitlin Dell'Orfano (ACL injury) is out for season. Casey McLaughlin (knee) had been out since Jan. 5, but played a few minutes off the bench in the second quarter yesterday.
Still, it was a quality win for Pentucket despite Central's injury problems.
"It's always a great feeling to beat a team that everyone thinks is better than you," Nogueira said.
Sarah Higgins added 13 points and collected nine rebounds.
"Sarah's always an aggressive player," Nogueira said. "She gets the team going. She's very high energy. That's always good to play around."
Higgins said she had trouble scoring at the beginning of the year.
"Because I was putting too much pressure on myself," she said. "And the coaches just kept telling me that my game would come. Once I started to not worry about scoring as much, it came to me. I definitely relaxed."
Central coach Sue Downer said McLaughlin will return gradually.
"So I thought we'd throw her in a couple of minutes here and there today to maybe get her over the mental hurdle of coming back in," Downer said.
"We just haven't been able to play two complete games back to back," Downer added. "We played so good (Sunday) and then obviously not a great performance tonight. Going forward, I think the kids realize ... you've got to play well every game."
Pentucket 59, Central Catholic 41
Pentucket (18-4):16101716 — 59
Central Catholic (12-8):731120 — 41
Central (41): Courtney Walsh 6-0-16, Alex Nagri 3-2-8, Amanda Williams 0-0-0, Kaleigh Smith 0-0-0, Alex Borrelli 2-2-6, Jannelvy Martinez 1-0-2, Allie Tierney 1-0-3, Giulia Orlando 1-0-2, Darion Summers 1-1-4, Casey McLaughlin 0-0-0. Totals 15-5-41
Pentucket (59): Alex Moore 1-6-9, Kelsi McNamara 2-1-6, Coley Viselli 2-0-6, Liza Brackbill 0-0-0, McKenna Kilian 0-0-0, Leigh McNamara 1-4-6, Sarah Higgins 5-3-13, Tess Nogueira 9-1-19, Tori Lane 0-0-0, Molly McDonough 0-0-0. Totals 20-15-59
3-pointers: C — Walsh 4, Tierney, Summers; P — Moore, K. McNamara, Viselli 2