After surviving its opening round game against Danvers despite shooting just 19 percent, Pentucket head coach John McNamara knows that a better offensive effort is mandatory to beat Arlington Catholic in this afternoon’s quarterfinal game.
Pentucket (17-6) girls basketball has long been a program rich with playoff experience. With a young team this season though, tournament play is largely an unknown for the Sachems. Because of this, nerves were likely a key contributor to Pentucket’s offensive woes on Thursday night.
“I think there were playoff nerves in the beginning,” McNamara said. “We missed an opportunity in the beginning to expand our lead. I felt as though we dominated the first five or six minutes, and the score was 4-0. We missed some easy shots and they settled down and suddenly it was a game. You’re not going to beat many teams in the playoffs by shooting 19 percent.”
Add Arlington Catholic to that list. The tournament’s three seed, the Cougars earned a first-round bye with an impressive 17-4 regular season record and are well-rested heading into today’s game.
“We know quite a bit about Arlington Catholic,” McNamara said. “We have seen them a few times and I am friends with their coach. I think they’re one of the top-five teams in Eastern Mass. They’re a great team, a good program and they’re very well coached. We also know they’re big across the board.”
In contrast, the Sachems are moving into the second round only some 40 hours after walking off their home court with a win against Danvers.
“I would have preferred to have more days to prepare for Arlington Catholic,” McNamara said. “We did some prep work early this week to give us any kind of chance for them if we ended up beating Danvers, but to give our bodies a chance to recover would have been nice. I don’t think there’s any team in the whole tournament that has the turnaround that we had, with not even a full 48-hours rest.”