Warriors fall to Pentucket in D2N Final

Mar 12, 2018 by

Plenty of pride for one of best teams in program history

THE WARRIORS stand united during the National Anthem before the D2 North championship game with their “WL” patches for Wayne Lovell shining bright. (Jim Vaiknoras Photo)

Published in the March 12, 2018 edition.


LOWELL — The Wakefield High girls’ basketball team is full competitors; from the leading scorer all the way to the end of the bench. Which is why now is not a good time to tell them how proud we are. We’re going to anyways.

The Warriors wanted this game. They weren’t coming to the Tsongas Center to finish second in the Div. 2 North. Yes, Wakefield ran into a 21-2 Pentucket team that few have been able to figure out this season, but in true Warrior form, they really did fight until the end, and absolutely made every Wakefield fan in attendance proud.

Pentucket featured a fast, aggressive and cohesive defensive unit that held the Warriors to 12 points in the first half, and even though Wakefield outscored the Sachems 13-7 in the third quarter, cutting the lead to eight heading into the fourth, Pentucket closed strong and moved on with a 48-33 win.

“It’s really tough to prepare for them because you can’t really replicate that kind of defensive intensity in practice, especially in a day,” said Wakefield head coach Jason Pavey. “That, coupled with the fact that we haven’t been here, and I thought there was a lot of nervous energy that when they revved it up it just took us a while to settle in.”

ALLEE PURCELL reaches for a rebound against Pentucket in the D2N Final on Saturday at the Tsongas Center. Purcell scored 11 points to lead Wakefield and much like she has all season, fought hard for rebounds and played great defense. (Jim Vaiknoras Photo)

Wakefield didn’t fully settle in until the second half, as Pentucket outscored the Warriors 13-6 in both the first and second quarters, leading to a 26-12 halftime difference.

Allee Purcell kept the Warriors in it as she scored 9 of her team-high 11 points in the first half. Purcell was once again a difference-maker on the glass and in the paint.

Pentucket featured a balanced offense led by Angelina Yacubacci who scored 11 of her game-high 15 in the first half. Yacubacci had two of Pentucket’s three triples in the 2nd quarter. Those shots ended up really hurting Wakefield, as even when the Warriors were shutting down other parts of the offense, the Sachems were hitting threes late in possessions.

“Pentucket had a nice end to the second quarter where they knocked down some huge threes and after that we made some adjustments at halftime, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole against a really, really good team.”

At halftime, the question was how would Wakefield respond to the frustration? Warrior fans in attendance already knew the answer to that one.

The Warriors started the third on a 4-0 run after a bucket down low from Hannah Butler followed by an open layup in transition by Ally Coggswell after a nice pass from Purcell. The Warriors seemed to be making a statement as their defensive intensity ramped up to a familiar decibel.

In Wakefield’s season program book, senior Nicole Catino lists her favorite quote as an original from assistant coach Rick Quattrocchi, or “Coach Q” as he is better known in Wakefield: “Pressure, apply it, don’t feel it.” The Warriors were certainly applying the pressure in the third, and following some intense defense from the likes of Hailey Lovell, Coggswell, Purcell and Butler, and balanced scoring led by Butler’s 5 and 4 from Hannah Dziadyk, and the Warriors were back in it, as they trailed 33-25.

Unfortunately, Pentucket wouldn’t let them get any closer.

Yacubacci started the fourth with a three that felt more like a gut punch as Wakefield had no choice but to hurry their offense, trying to make up 11 points in seven minutes. It was clear Pentucket had been in this position before as they closed the game about as well as you can. The Sachems continued to rotate and communicate well on defense while burning the game clock on offense, executing and hitting their open shots while limiting turnovers against a Wakefield team that left everything on the court. In the end, the third quarter was really the only one of the four that Wakefield seemed in control of.

“We had to fight to get comfortable and I think we just settled a lot,” said Pavey. “We had spurts where we executed but to their credit they just really took us out of our game today.”

Again, to competitors like graduating senior captains Nicole Catino, Ally Coggswell, Hannah Dziadyk, Olivia Dziadyk, Hailey Lovell and Allee Purcell, saying they battled to the end might not ease their disappointment even if it’s true. But hopefully this senior class can immediately look at the bigger picture. Being the first Wakefield basketball team to make it to a sectional championship since both the boys and girls did it in 1996-97, means that this was one of the very best teams in the history of a storied program.

And much more than the wins, the character, toughness and unity of this team was what will truly be remembered.

“We haven’t been here in over 20 years,” said Pavey, a member of that ‘97 boys team. “They have an awful lot to be proud of. It’s been a hard year for a lot of these kids and for them to battle like this and focus and put up with me; I’m just really proud of how they fought.”

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