By Christopher Smith
---- — BOSTON — Pentucket coach John McNamara might be the best basketball coach — both boys and girls — north of Boston.
He has done a heck of a job with the Sachems girls program, compiling a 158-20 record and one state title in seven years.
But sometimes no matter how good the coaching is, the talent on the floor wins out. And yesterday, Archbishop Williams probably had more talent, and certainly much more size, than Pentucket.
The talented Archies rolled 52-38 here in the Division 3 semifinal over defending Division 3 champion Pentucket at the TD Garden.
“They’re bigger than a college team,” McNamara said.
McNamara and Archies coach Jim Bancroft know each other quite well. Yesterday marked the fourth time these two schools have met in the Division 3 semis since 2007.
Unfortunately for McNamara and his band, the Archies have won three of the four matchups.
“They (Archies) have their chance to win their third straight state title and each time they’ve beaten us at the Garden, so you have to respect an opponent like that,” McNamara said.
Bancroft said he has tons of respect for McNamara.
“Every once in a while we’ll chitchat,” Bancroft said. “Not long conversations. Last year, we ran into each other at the NCAA (tournament) after he had won the state tournament and I congratulated him. And we talked a little bit about it. Before this game we were talking, ‘Hey this is four times in seven years.’ So it’s interesting how that develops.”
Without a doubt, Archies had the most talent. The Bishops have three players who are 6 feet or taller. Of those three, Alana Gilmer, who has received a scholarship offer from UMass, was the best yesterday, netting a team-high 12 points.
Archies’ 6-3 sophomore center Jaylen Williams, who is committed to Penn State and is the daughter of former Patriots defensive end Brent Williams, added nine points.
The Archies controlled much of the first half. But the Bishops only led 26-21 at halftime basically because they missed a ton of shots, including some in the paint.
But for what the Archies lacked offensively throughout the contest, it made up for in its man-to-man defense. It held the Sachems to just four points in the third quarter.
“We didn’t execute well,” McNamara said. “We missed some easy shots, but they made us work for everything. We tried to get to the hoop and we couldn’t get to the hoop. And they blocked some shots. They play good defense.”
McNamara’s daughter, sophomore Kelsi McNamara, certainly showed a ton of heart for the Sachems. She recorded a game-high 13 points, including going 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the final quarter.
McNamara has another daughter Erin McNamara who played for him. She was an Eagle-Tribune Super Teamer as a guard her senior year in 2010 and netted 1,106 career points at Pentucket.
“They’re different type of players, completely,” John McNamara said. “My youngest daughter is kind of more carefree and goes with the flow. My oldest daughter is still sitting in the stands today, grumbling about the loss ... three years ago. Kelsi will put this behind her probably tomorrow. She’s played well in the tournament. She’s stepped up and she plays well in big games. She was a little hurting today with her knee but she battled again.”
Gilmer added about Kelsi McNamara: “She can shoot. She can go to the basket. She can do a whole bunch of things. I really respect her.”
agateHed:Archbishop Williams 52, Pentucket 38
agateText:Division 3 Semifinals
agateText:Archies (52): Sara Ryan 1 1-2 4, Caroline Aborn 0 0-0 0, Katryna Veasey 1 1-2, 3, Alana Gilmer 5 2-2 12, Jaylen Williams 4 1-2 9, Olivia Conrad 4 0-0 8, Leah Spencer 4 1-1 9, Ednaija Lassiter 0 0-0 0, Victoria Dean 3 0-0 7. Totals 22-6-52
agateText:Pentucket (38): Sydney Snow 1 -0-0 2, Alex Moore 0 3-6 3, Kelsi McNamara 4 4-5 13, Coley Viselli 1 0-0 3, Taylor Moore 0 0-0 0, McKenna Kilian 3 0-0 7, Tess Nogueira 1 6-6 8, Riley Holden 1 0-0 2, Madeline Torrisi 0 0-0 0, Emily Dresser 0 0-0 0. Totals 11-13-38
agateText:3-pointers: A — Ryan, Dean; P — McNamara, Viselli, Kilian
agateText:Archbishop Williams (22-5): 18 8 10 16 — 52
agateText:Pentucket (24-2): 9 12 4 13 — 38