NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

December 11, 2013

In search of the next Pentucket champions

McNamaras will look to lead team back to Garden

WEST NEWBURY — If Pentucket girls basketball is going to continue on a path of dominating basketball as it has for John McNamara’s seven seasons as a head coach, it will have to do so without any seniors.

Over the past seven years and 178 basketball games that McNamara has coached Pentucket, the Sachems have won 158. To post a winning percentage of 89 percent, five sectional titles and a nearly annual trip to play at the TD Garden in the Division 3 state semifinal, a team must first establish a strong program of winning basketball and be lucky enough to have athletes who buy into it.

“We have had a lot of good, dedicated players that have bought into our system, and I think that’s the key ingredient,” McNamara said. “We have had players that trust the coaching staff and who sacrifice their individual stats for the betterment of the team, which is huge.”

Three of those players were Tess Nogueira, Coley Viselli and Alex Moore, each of whom were members of last year’s All-Cape Ann team. When his top trio of players finished their respective high school careers last season, McNamara turned his sights onto 2013 knowing that a team with no seniors will have a far different feel.

“We are young,” McNamara said. “The short preseason is every coach’s nightmare because you think about a lot of the things that you want to get in that you can’t in that time frame. With a younger team, it’s even more difficult. As a coaching staff, we can’t rush things. We have to be patient. The short preseason is a big problem for all the coaches, but it is magnified for such a young team.”

To withstand the brunt of the challenges that this season promises, junior Kelsi McNamara will have a far different role as one of the program’s only battle-tested athletes.

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