Sports 03-08-2017

March 10, 2017
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Journey’s End:Revere’s fantastic season halted by Central Catholic

By Cary Shuman

The Revere High girls basketball team wanted another State Tournament showdown with Woburn High School but Central Catholic spoiled that dream rematch by rallying to defeat the Lady Patriots, 62-58, in the Division 1 North quarterfinals Friday night at the Roland Merullo Fieldhouse.

Coach Lianne O’Hara’s NEC champions nearly pulled out a victory in the final minute of a thrilling basketball game. Sophomore Emily DiGiulio swished a clutch three-pointer to close the gap to 59-56 with 46 seconds left. Junior Pamela Gonzalez almost converted a layup on the ensuing possession but was fouled and calmly sank the two shots to make it a one-point deficit. (59-58).

When DiGiulio and the Revere defense forced an inbounds turnover, the hosts had a shot to take the lead but an inside-the-lane jumper by Gonzalez and a follow-up attempt by Meghan Gotham missed connection.

Central made key free throws in the final seconds to seal the win and a date with Marissa Gattuso and the Woburn Tanners (Woburn defeated Central in the semifinals).

Revere had led 18-9 after one quarter and 36-26 early in the second half but turnovers hurt the Patriots against the surging Lady Raiders who eventually took a 44-42 lead after three quarters.

O’Hara felt that fateful stretch (in which Central outscored her team by an 18-6 margin) was crucial to the eventual result.

“We weren’t expecting their full-court trap defense out of a timeout and we had back-to-back-to-back turnovers which was difficult to overcome,” said O’Hara. “And then once we were getting the ball past the trap, we were turning it over and that’s not going to complete games.”

Revere placed four players in double figures. Tatianna Iacoviello, who put on another outside shooting exhibition, hit five three pointers for 15 points. Andover’s second-year coach Casey Grange said she adjusted her defense at the half to neutralize Iacoviello. “I told the team at the half to stop letting No. 13 shoot,” she said. “They’re a solid team and we had to gut it out defensively every single possession.”

“Tatianna had a great game,” said O’Hara. “She tries really hard every game. She has a ton of heart.”

Gonzalez also had a solid performance, contributing 15 points. Valentina Pepic, a leading candidate for All-Scholastic honors, finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, while the other half of Revere’s 6-2 twin talents, Meaghan Gotham, had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Grange felt Central’s schedule in the Merrimack Valley Conference prepared it well for the tournament. MVC schools Andover and Billerica are also Division 1 North semifinalists. Woburn hails from the Middlesex League.

“I think we just play a little bit tougher of a schedule than they do in our league day in and day out,” said Grange. “So we just tried to bring the intensity. I think our press definitely turned the game around.”

When the big picture of Revere’s 2016-17 season unfolds, it will be remembered as a very successful campaign in which the team defeated powerful St. Mary’s, traveled to faraway Acton and won a Division 1 holiday tournament, claimed 18 consecutive victories, and became the No. 1-ranked team in Massachusetts.

O’Hara’s in-game strategy and ability to find the right combination of players was in a word, brilliant. The first-year coaching staff clicked wonderfully as the team was cohesive on the court and earned the right to host two State Tournament games.

“It was definitely a learning experience for me,” said O’Hara. “Am I satisfied? I would have loved to have won tonight [over Central]. I thought we came out super strong and it was unfortunate that we had so many turnovers – the third quarter hurt us a lot.”

Pamela Gonzalez said she enjoyed the season and pledged to play hard for the graduating seniors [Meaghan Gotham, Samantha Woodman, and Elizabeth Lake].

“It was an excellent season and a great game that we should have won, but it is what it is,” said Gonzalez. “I’m really proud of our seniors. This game was really hard on them and I hope we can win it for them next year. They deserved everything that we accomplished this season.”

Athletic Director Shea offers congratulations to RHS girls for completing super season

By Cary Shuman

Revere High School director of athletics Frank Shea officially congratulated the girls basketball team on a successful season.

“Their record says it all,” said Shea. “To win that many games, go through the league undefeated and get the No. 1 ranking was really impressive. They represented our school and our city with sportsmanship and class. I congratulate the coaches and the players for a terrific season.”

Shea and his staff performed their duties admirably while hosting two state tournament games. The Revere fans, notably the student body section, kept their cheers positive and uplifting. The school’s security team, in coordination with the Revere Police, made it a safe and fun environment for all to enjoy the game.

TOURNEY NOTEBOOK

Pamela Gonzalez came within inches of scoring on a layup while getting fouled in the final minute of the Revere-Central game. She swished her two free throws to make it a one-point game (59-58) At that point Central was reeling from Revere’s outburst (ignited by Emily DiGiulio’s long-range three) and you wonder how the visitors from the Merrimack Valley would have reacted if Revere had tied the game at that point.

With four starters – Pamela Gonzalez, Emily DiGiulio, Valentina Pepic, and Tatianna Iacoviello – returning, along with sophomores Jenna Wells and Kiana Napolitano, and freshman Erika Cheever, who was the undisputed rookie of the year in the Northeastern Conference, Revere is in position to be a title contender once again next season.

Pepic  put together a season that should earn her MVP and All-Scholastic awards.

It will be interesting to see whom O’Hara schedules for Revere’s non-league games next year. Newton South, with its 1,000-point scorer, junior guard Veronica Burton, would present an exciting matchup for Revere’s trio of backcourters, Iacoviello, DiGiulio, and Gonzalez.

Coach Lianne O’Hara praised her three seniors who helped establish the program as a perennial power on the North Shore. Meaghan Gotham, Samantha Woodman,  and Elizabeth Lake all played large roles for the team and were true leaders and role models for all RHS underclassmen.

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