The St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team claimed the Division 3 North sectional championship with a convincing 65-53 victory over No. 1-seeded Stoneham Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
Head coach Jeffrey Newhall’s Lady Spartans opened up a 31-11 lead in the first half before Stoneham rallied to close the margin to 37-28 at the intermission.
St. Mary’s senior Kirsten Ferrari and freshman Jennie Mucciarone each swished three-pointers before Cassi Amenta scored a basket to make it 45-28 early in third quarter. When Mucciarone connected again from three-point land, the lead was 48-28.
Stoneham made a run late in the third quarter to close it to 50-39, but Ferrari reclaimed the momentum for St. Mary’s by hitting two three-pointers to start the fourth quarter. Amenta, who turned in an excellent performance with 15 points and 11 rebounds, swished four consecutive free throws and converted a layup on an assist from Ferrari to seal the victory.
St. Mary’s 6-feet-2-inch center Tori Faieta was a difference maker in the lane, scoring six points and denying Stoneham any second chances on the boards. Faieta also drew special attention on offense, opening up the court for her teammates.
Junior Ann Marie Idusuyi, arguably one of the state’s best backup centers, gave the Spartans a big lift. Idusuyi had five first-half points to keep the Spartans in a comfortable lead while Faieta was on the bench in foul trouble.
Newhall’s trio of phenomenal freshmen, Jennie Mucciarone, Brianna Rudolph, and Sharell Sanders, contributed key performances. Mucciarone finished with 11 points with three baskets and three free throws. Rudolph scored seven points and wreaked havoc in Stoneham’s experienced backcourt with her quickness and defensive skills. Sanders once against provided a spark off the bench, scoring five points, including a three-pointer.
Stoneham coach Angela Billings credited St. Mary’s on a solid overall performance. “St. Mary’s is a very good team,” said Billings. “I know they have a scholarship player (Faieta) and other standouts on their team. Defensively they did a very good job.”
Newhall made a crucial defensive change in the second half when Amenta began defending against Stoneham’s 6-foot senior center Vanessa Bramante. “Cassi was tremendous in the second half,” said Newhall. “She played great defense on her. That was a key moment for us, having Cassi go in and take her away from the hoop.”