The third time was the charm for the Watertown’s girls’ basketball team Saturday when it won its first North Section title in its third straight final.
The Raiders (21-0) held off a frantic comeback attempt by Kelsi McNamara and Pentucket (23-2) to win the Div. 2 North Section title at Lowell’s Tsongas Center.
Watertown jumped out to an early first 11-3 quarter lead, only to see the Sachems claw back and take a two point lead of their own in the second quarter. The half ended with Watertown on top 25-21.
“As the game went on we were still getting better,” Ferdinand said. “The couple turnovers we had we were able to get though it and finish plays.”
In the third quarter, the Raiders took their biggest lead of the game at 36-25, with the help of three straight baskets from junior point guard Michaela Antonellis.
“She played phenomenally,” Ferdinand said. “Early in the year she had anxiety about replacing (2014 grad) Gabby (Coppola), following her footsteps. I told her you don’t have to follow anyone’s footsteps, make your own footsteps.”
Ferdinand left the duty of guarding McNamara – who has over 1,000 points in her career – to junior Felicia Korte and senior Rachel Morris.
“Felicia did a great job. She contain her, and then did really good job not letting her go right and make her reset, reset, reset,” Ferdinand said. “I thought Rachel did a great job too.”
Pentucket, however, started using a pressing defense to stop Watertown’s offense and McNamara made two straight threes early in the fourth quarter to reduce the lead to three.
“We tried not to panic,” Antonellis said. “Our coach does a really good job telling us to calm down.”
With 24.1 second left, Pentucket had reduced the lead to one point, but fouled Watertown senior guard Gianna Copppola two straight trips. She made three of four free throws and sealed the 44-40 victory and a trip to the TD Garden for the state semifinals.
“I just thought to my self, pretend you are at practice,” Coppola said. “Follow through. Shoot it. You got this.”
Ferdinand credited the win to his players – those on the court and on the sideline – and his two assistant coaches – Mo Hamil and Jerry Monde. He said the win was special for the Raiders girls basketball program.
The coaches first year Watertown lost by about 30 points up at Pentucket, then lost two years ago in Lowell to Pentucket and last year fell to Arlington Catholic.
“It was just a great team win and for the community, the girls’ basketball community,” Ferdinand said. “The great players we have had in the past that haven’t been able to do this; when the clock was running down I was thinking about them also. We had multiple years where we were crying at the end of the year in that locker room and I still cried after the game. I was emotional.”
Watertown plays South Section champs Duxbury (24-0) at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at the TD Garden.