WEST NEWBURY — Championship-caliber teams find ways to win, and the Pentucket girls basketball team did just that last night.
While it is unclear whether the Pentucket school name will be etched in any trophies come February, gutsy performances such as the Sachems’ 59-50 win over Hamilton-Wenham last night certainly set the stage for a potential late-season run.
The first half had star junior Kelsi McNamara and her dad, head coach John McNamara, frustrated. Nothing seemed to go well; points were replaced with turnovers, and sloppy play dictated the mood in a game full of emotion. Kelsi was held to just three points, all off free-throws, and the Sachems faced a 22-16 deficit at half.
“In the first half I don’t think I played too well,” Kelsi said. “My dad really got into us at halftime in the locker room because none of us played well. I knew that when we came out, we had to have a new energy, and I had to step up if we wanted to win.”
After tallying just three points and a rebound in the first half, Kelsi would finish with 17 points and four rebounds. Also coming up big for the Sachems was McKenna Kilian, who would record 16 points, three rebounds and two blocks. Seeing his daughter and Kilian have big days for his team is something that McNamara has grown used to as a coach.
“I thought in the first half we got rattled,” McNamara said. “We gave up a lead and things weren’t going our way. I thought our juniors stepped up in the second half and settled us down. This was just a brutal, physical game and a good win for us.”
The biggest shot of the night came after Pentucket fought its way back to have their first taste of the lead since early in the second quarter.