The Marblehead High girls basketball team (10-7) is surging at the right time with March Madness looming on the horizon.
A team loaded with talented freshmen started the season trying to find itself, but once the calendar flipped to 2023, it was able to develop that competitive edge, and the wins soon followed.
Since Jan. 3, the team has gone 9-6 and built a three-game winning streak as the regular season ended during school vacation week.
The Marblehead girls’ latest two wins were against Swampscott (49-30, Feb. 17) and Ipswich (41-36, Feb. 21). The team’s newfound cohesiveness was quite evident to opponents who had seen them play earlier on in the season.
The Magicians defeated their Big Blue rivals in early January, 16-14, but six weeks later they were able to score three times as many points, while resembling a team nobody wants to face in the postseason.
“We definitely made a lot of strides since the first time we played Swampscott,” said coach Paul Moran.
A freshman has led them with a hot shooting hand. In her latest display of offensive dominance, Tess Andriano poured in 23 points against Swampscott to lead the way.
Samantha Dormer helped out her teammates in multiple ways with 10 points to go along with several assists, blocks and rebounds, according to Moran.
“(Dormer) has been playing great lately,” he added.
Senior captain Isabelle Ferrante chipped in with five points against Swampscott. Junior Katie Burns accounted for four points and 12 rebounds. Mari O’Connell, sophomore Olivia Goldwater and Greta Sachs scored two apiece. Romana Gillette buried one free throw.
The game against Ipswich also showed evidence of the team’s marked improvement since the start of the season. It had lost to the Tigers the first time around, 43-34. But the team turned around that score with another demonstration of all-around team play.
Andriano was once again the team’s leading scorer with 16 points. Dormer was next in line with nine points. O’Connell netted six. Burns collected four. Sara Bosio and Samara Dosch contributed three points apiece to the winning cause.
“We trailed by 15 at halftime against Ipswich, but then we started to put it all together in the second half,” said Moran. “We started the game flat. We couldn’t press and couldn’t make our shots. But I was proud of the comeback. We didn’t give up, despite trailing by double digits.”
Moran singled out O’Connell, one of his talented freshmen, for making three clutch free throws at the end of the game.
“This effort against Ipswich just showed how much the young players have matured since the start of the season,” the coach said. “I’m particularly proud of our three captains (Carlin McGowan, Stella Monaco and Ferrante), who made the varsity newcomers feel welcome on and off the court.”
Junior point guard Katie Pyne hurt her arm in the second Swampscott game, but the likes of Dosch and O’Connell have been filling in nicely for her to keep the offense going in the right direction.
The Magicians, the 42nd seed, will begin the Division 2 state tournament against a familiar foe, Masco, the 23rd seed, in a preliminary round game on the Chieftains’ Boxford campus Feb. 28 (6 p.m.).