, Newburyport, MA


March 12, 2013

The Pentucket winning tradition is likely to continue

BOSTON — The Pentucket girls basketball team plays into March every year, and the 20-plus win seasons often end at the TD Garden or DCU Center in Worcester.

That’s just the way it has been in seven seasons under coach John McNamara, who has led the team to a cumulative record of 158-20 during that stretch. McNamara’s teams have collected one state championship and five sectional titles.

In the years in which the Sachems’ season has not ended with a state title (all but 2012), the season typically ends with a hard-fought Pentucket loss in front of some 2,000 fans from the district. Tears stream from the faces of the seniors as they hug on the sidelines, and the common sentiment among spectators is always, “That was a great run for the program.”

Such was the case yesterday in Pentucket’s 52-38 loss to Archbishop Williams in the Division 3 state semifinal at the TD Garden. After Pentucket’s third loss to the Archies at the Garden in the last six years, fans were left to wonder if Pentucket’s run has come to an end.

No one will bet against Pentucket returning to the Garden for the sixth time in eight years next season, but the feat will require a quick transition process after the graduation of yet another program-altering senior class. This year’s seniors include 1,000-point scorer and reigning Cape Ann League MVP Coley Viselli, all-purpose center and three-year starter Tess Nogueira, defensive stopper and three-year starter Alex Moore, and vocal leader and valuable asset off the bench Emily Dresser. Each of those seniors played four seasons at Pentucket, serving various roles on teams that logged a cumulative record of 93-12 with three Garden appearances and one state title.

“It’s a testament to their will power, leadership and basketball skills,” McNamara said of his seniors. “Those girls have had fantastic careers. I told them, not many seniors can say they’ve been to the Garden three times in four years. It hurts today, but it’s a pretty special run.”

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