By John Shimer
---- — WATERTOWN — The thrill ride is done for the Amesbury girls basketball team (11-11) after Watertown (12-10) ended the Indians’ Cinderella run in the second round of the state tournament 47-32.
But for the second lowest seed in the Division 3 North sectional, the 14th-seeded Indians had quite the resurgent season, earning their first trip to the state tournament in seven years by winning twice as many games as a season ago, and then topping it all off with a first-round victory over a 16-win Excel team.
Tied at 16 after a scrappy first half in which both teams had trouble creating open looks or breaking down their opponent’s defense, Amesbury faded in the third quarter as the home-side took control of the game.
“The difference was they stepped up their defense in the second half, I thought, and we just couldn’t hit baskets,” Amesbury coach Chris Perry said. “They’d make a shot and we’d immediately come down in their end, make a turnover and it was one of those things that just kind of snowballed.”
Perry cited Courtney Borkowski for a stellar performance, chipping in seven points and 14 rebounds.
“They were a really tough team, so I wanted to match up,” Borkowski said. “I wanted to show intensity, not let them push around, so I tried my best, really hustled and tried to get the rebounds, and tried to play good defense.”
Emily Martin led the Indians with nine points and also had 11 rebounds.
“As the season went on we were better at working as a team and that helped today,” Martin said. “Courtney Borkowski had an extremely good game and she was really key on defense. Her rebounding was off the charts, and on defense she wasn’t going to let the other team have the ball.
“We kind of got tired — I guess you could say we ran out of steam and they turned the pressure on in the second half,” Martin continued. “No one expected us to be as close as we were with them, and so I think it was kind of a time for them to turn it up and they did.”
A fantastic season with plenty of improvement, all hope the Indians can build off their success from 2012-13.
“This season was definitely the best season for all of us,” Borkowski said. “We were able to communicate better and really get to the basket for easier offensive looks score wise. We played more like a team this year.”
“It was awesome I think it was 2006 was the last time Amesbury girls basketball made the state tournament and this year the six seniors wanted to leave it all out on the court because we knew it was our last chance and we did,” Martin said.
“I think there wasn’t one person that stood out. A lot of players stepped up. Emily Williams stepped up a lot really and was a key on offense with outside shots, and a few underclassmen really helped out as well,” the senior captain said.
“I hope (this run in the state tournament) built a lot of confidence,” Perry said of his program, which has languished in last place in the Cape Ann League for a number of season until this past year.
“I think it kind of surprised them, to be honest with you. None of the kids basketball-wise have played in the tournament before, so I think it was a good experience for them. The kids that are coming back next year hopefully they’re ready for the next step. We’ll see.”