TMHS Girls Basketball Team Is State Tournament Bound
Redmen top Notre Dame Academy, 47-37 to clinch second place and qualify for the state tournament.
Warming the hearts of procrastinators and late bloomers everywhere, the Tewksbury High girls basketball team punched its ticket to the state tournament for the second straight year with a 47-37 victory over Notre Dame Academy of Tyngsboro Tuesday night.
Sophomore center Chelsee Porcaro scored 12 points and junior forward Nicole Chaet added 11 as TMHS once again overcame a frustrating start to the season and roared back to qualify for MIAA Division 2 tournament play.
Tuesday's game was a microcosm of the entire 2011-2012 schedule as the Redmen started out sluggish and shot the ball poorly in the first half, only to come to life in the latter stages of the game and pull away for the win.
"A win is a win. I think we sort of played to their standards a little bit, but we got a win and we're in the tournament, so I'm happy," TMHS coach Mark Bradley said. "It's always our goal to make the tournament. The girls responded in the second half of the season and started playing better. We just have to keep on looking to get better because the teams that we're going to be playing are tough."
Sloppy play and off-target shooting led to a slow start for both teams but Porcaro connected on a pair of short jumpers in the lane during the second quarter as Tewksbury built a 21-16 halftime lead.
Bradley employed a full court press to start the third period, and that was the turning pioint in the game as Tewksbury held Notre Dame to just six points in the third and stretched its lead to 35-22. Chaet scored six of her 11 in that quarter while Porcaro and freshman forward Shannon Smith took control of the backboards.
"I think we got a little bit more aggressive when we came out in that (press)," Bradley said. "They went to a (man-to-man) defense which we're more comfortable with and we started getting some baskets."
Chaet collected her fourth foul less than a minute into the fourth quarter, but junior forward Caitlyn Morris came off the bench and filled in admirably. Porcaro hit two more mid-range jumpers to help seal the victory.
"I thought Chelsee had a good game, she worked hard under the basket," Bradley said. "And Cailtyn Morris came in and made a big, clutch shot. We held the lead without Nicole in there, which was good to see."
Sophomore guard Sara Semenza added eight points, senior guard Sheri Liggiero had five and senior guard Amanda Cossar had four. Katie Doherty chipped in with three while Smith and Morris finished with two each.
The victory improves Tewksbury's record to 8-9 overall, as the Redmen have won five of their last six games and eight of their last 11. More important, TMHS has improved to 8-6 against Merrimack Valley Conference competition, good enough to guarantee the Redmen a second-place finish in the MVC Division 2 standings.
The top two teams in the division earn an automatic state tournament berth.
"We're glad to be in, but we've got to keep on getting better because the teams we'll be playing are going to be tough," Bradley said. "Our last three games are important because it will help us move up in the seedings and it will get us prepared for the type of teams we'll be seeing."
Tewksbury wraps up its home schedule Friday evening with a Senior Night game against Methuen High. The Redmen finish the regular season with two games in the St. Mary's (Lynn) Tournament, opening against North Andover (11-6 overall), the team that knocked TMHS out of the state tournament last year.