WEST NEWBURY — John McNamara has had a pretty good thing going with the Pentucket girls basketball team, as most River Rival basketball fans know.
On top of having the most successful basketball program in the Cape Ann League, he's been able to coach his two daughters — Erin first and Kelsi now — five out of the six years he's been in charge of the Sachems. Four out of those five years, his teams have made it to the TD Garden, where most New England basketball youngsters dream of playing one day.
The roles his daughters have played with the Sachems have been quite different as freshmen. Erin was the starting point guard, battle tested from Day 1. She helped form the core nucleus of three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior. Together they started to put Pentucket on the map.
Kelsi, on the other hand, has grown into the Sachems' sixth girl, the first sub and a real contributor off the bench behind an established core of upperclassmen.
Like her big sister, Kelsi proved she is clutch in knocking down three huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter Tuesday in the Division 3 state semifinal against Fairhaven. Her 10 points were crucial in a 53-39 victory.
"It's neat that Erin as a freshman went to the Garden, and we lost to the Archies (Archbishop Williams), but I remember her hitting a couple of threes. Kelsi hit a few, so not many coaches get that opportunity," said McNamara, who was on the road yesterday to scout his team's next opponent, Sabis, who beat Sutton yesterday 54-29. "I'll appreciate it more in a couple of weeks when we get through this next game."
Erin and Kelsi are alike in many ways, both supremely driven to get to the Garden and become state champions. The state championship never happened for big sis, and it's something Kelsi could accomplish as a freshman.