Lowell’s Tsongas Center is becoming a familiar place for the Watertown girls’s basketball team, which will play there for the third straight year in the North Section final after defeating Belmont Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Raiders (20-0) beat their rivals for the second time this year, but the fifth seeded Marauders (16-7) did not go quietly. Watertown head coach Patrick Ferdinand expected a tough game in the Div. 2 North Section semifinal at Mystic Valley in Malden.
“(Belmont) did a really good job adjusting,” Ferdinand said. “Melissa (Hart) is a great coach. their team works very very hard. They are scrappy.”
Watertown took a 4-0 lead and after the Marauders kept the game close, the Raiders went on a 7-0 run – with baskets by sophomore Shannon Murphy, senior Rachel Morris (a three) and junior Michaela Antonellis – at the end of the second quarter to take a 31-22 lead.
“We held the ball to the end and got the last shot and we didn’t give them the opportunity to score,” Ferdinand said. “We had a couple good possessions. I thought we played within ourselves.”
The Raiders seemed to have the game under control after extending the lead to 13 at the end of the third quarter – 38-25 – but Belmont put on the defensive pressure and started hitting shots.
“Some of those turnovers in the fourth, they really were pivotal,” Ferdinand said. “It put them back in the game.”
The Marauders went on a 11-2 run to get within six points with 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Watertown made some key steals and made some free throws to close out the 49-40 victory.
“For the most part we did a great job executing and going into the interior,” Ferdinand said. “When we moved the ball with the pass I think we did a really good job.”
Junior Katelyn Rourke lead the Raiders with 15 points, and Murphy chipped in 10. Sophia Eschenbach-Smith was Belmont’s high scorer with 10 points.
Watertown moves on to face second seeded Pentucket (23-1) which defeated defending state champs Arlington Catholic 34-25. The Raiders fell to Pentucket two years ago in the Div. 3 North Section final. The rematch is at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Tsongas Center in Lowell.