Cougars Crush North Andover, Advance to North Finals at Tsongas Center
Arlington Catholic took care of North Andover 59-40 in Billerica last night; the Cougars will take on Gloucester Saturday.
Emma Roberson was the star for Arlington Catholic last night. She led the way for her Cougars on the stat-sheet with a double double. Her 23 points and 12 assists were the catalyst in helping Arlington Catholic advance to the Division II North Sectional Final on Saturday night.
Lowell's Tsongas Arena hosts the game at 6p.m.
Arlington Catholic head coach had this to say about his star junior, "She can go to the basket very well; she also has a pull up jump shot."
North Andover has been ousted from the Division 2 North Sectional tournament three years in a row by the Cougars. This time, however, the stakes were much higher.
In the last two years, North Andover had to travel to Arlington Catholic’s home gym.
“In those two games we were clearly the underdog,” said Breen. “Today was tougher because I think we dared to dream,” she continued.
The emotion from North Andover was palpable as the final buzzer sounded. Three seniors, Erika Zahouriko, Amanda Foote, and Caitlin Enright all played their final games for North Andover.
Breen’s message to her seniors: “Thank you,” she said.
“The three of them have been phenomenal,” she continued. “I give so much credit to those three girls because they were the glue and brought along the young kids,” she said.
Arlington Catholic's strongpoint last night was creating turnovers. Their press caused North Andover to make bad passes trying to get over the halfcourt line.
The teams spent the first quarter feeling each other out. A defensive struggle looked imminent as Arlington Catholic took a 10-8 lead into the second period.
Then came a Cougar onslaught that all but decided the game. The Arlington Catholic defense was immense during the second quarter.
“Defensively I thought they were outstanding,” said Arlington Catholic head coach Dave Brady. They carried out the game plan pretty well,” he said.
They forced North Andover to shoot from the outside and make bad shot selections. The full court press confused the Knights, whose passes were often off the mark.
Every time North Andover got a little momentum, Arlington Catholic would swipe it back. The Cougars started off the second on a 9-0 run thanks to free throws from Emma Roberson and a layup by Rachel Buckley.
North Andover’s Morgan Lumb then responded by banking home a three, but Arlington Catholic snatched back the momentum with an immediate layup from Maura Buckley to make it 21-11.
The relentless Cougar defense held North Andover to four points in the second quarter. Arlington Catholic went into the locker room with a 26-12 lead.
At halftime, Brady announced to his team that Newton South lost a playoff game earlier in the week after leading by 19 points. This motivated his squad into coming out strong for the second half.
“Some hard evidence, it helps,” Brady said. “We kind of turned it into a mini-game,” he continued.
The third period began with a dagger from Arlington Catholic’s Nicole Catizone. Her three-pointer made it 31-14. Catizone drained five three-pointers in the game.
Emma Roberson followed that up by driving in for a layup that she converted into a three point play. To app off an 11-1 half-starting run, Catizone nailed another three-pointer to capitalize on a North Andover turnover. That set the score at 39-15.
Catizone started the fourth quarter off with another dagger, a three to make it 46-21.
Advancing to the finals is huge for Arlington Catholic. It will be their third consecutive berth in the North Finals. The haven't won the honor, however, since 2008. They will have that opportunity at Tsongas Arena on Saturday.
“Going back to Tsongas is important to me," said Brady.
“It’s nice to have an arena so you feel like you accomplished something," he added.
Gloucester comes into the game as the number five seed. They finished the regular season with a 16-6 record before beating Marblehead, Salem, and Reading to reach Saturday's final.