BEVERLY — With just about two minutes gone in the second half, Pentucket (23-1) hit gut-check time.
Opening the second half with a quick 5-0 spurt, the Ipswich Tigers (19-4) pulled ahead for just the second time in the game.
More importantly, though, up near mid-court, Pentucket’s star sophomore point guard Kelsi McNamara (15 points, six steals, three rebounds) pulled up lame and had to limp off the court with a knee injury.
Calling a timeout, coach John McNamara regrouped his team and put the ball in his best player’s hands — Coley Viselli (13 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals). The senior captain settled her team and Pentucket was able to win going away, 46-26.
The green machine will next face Watertown (13-10) in the Division 3 North final at the Tsongas Arena Saturday at a time to be determined later.
After a terrible shooting performance by the Sachems from outside in the first half, Viselli went into attack mode by taking the ball right to the hoop, and the results paid dividends.
The Sachems made nine trips to the line in the second half and buried 16 of 18 free throws, going 13 for 13 before Alex Moore (seven points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block) finally missed one with the team up 15 at the time, 41-26.
“It’s what we needed to do, (coach) said, ‘attack, they can’t stop you if you attack,’ so we decided, ‘oh, we’ll listen to you,’ and we attacked hard,” Viselli said. “We did exactly what we needed to do.”
Taking some time to get her knee wrapped up and loose, McNamara was able to come back later in the third quarter where her presence was definitely felt.
Just two possessions in with Ipswich on the comeback trail again after Caroline Soucy had just hit a three to get the Tigers within three, 27-24, Viselli was able to dribble-drive and found a wide open McNamara for a dagger three. Ipswich simply could not respond and hit only one more bucket the rest of the game.