The Everett High girls basketball team enjoyed a successful week, winning two of three games, which not only got them back to the .500 mark with an 8-8 record, but also greatly improved their chances for securing a berth in the state tournament.
The Lady Crimson Tide now need to win two of their four remaining contests in order to punch their ticket for a Journey to the Tourney. They opened their quest for a tourney spot Monday at home against a Marblehead team from the Northeastern Conference whom they easily handled earlier in the season.
Tonight (Wednesday) they host former GBL rival Arlington, another team they have defeated this season, on Senior Night. They will host Lynn Classical, another NEC foe, the following night before wrapping up the regular season next Tuesday at Whittier Tech.
Although the Lady Crimson Tide dropped their first encounter this season with Classical, the girls handily disposed of Whittier, which plays in the Commonwealth Conference, in their initial meeting.
Thus, with earlier victories over three of the four teams remaining on their schedule, the Lady Crimson Tide are in prime position to qualify for the state tourney for the first time in quite a while.
Everett opened its week with a 56-26 runaway victory over East Boston, a contest which was not as close as the final score might indicate. After grabbing a 12-8 lead after the first period, the Lady Crimson Tide outscored Eastie 23-6 in the second frame to zoom out to a 35-14 bulge by the intermission.
The big lead gave EHS head coach Tammy Turner an opportunity to give all of her players some extended playing time as they cruised to the victory. Taylor Sweeney and Tori Cyrus topped the scoring chart with 12 points each. Michelle Fenelon also reached double figures with 10 points, followed by Jackie Hanlon with six and Zoulikha Madkour, Rachel Pierce, Michaela White, and Amanda DeSouza with four points each.
The next night brought a contest with GBL foe Somerville. Everett did not fare well in their first match earlier in the season, but the Lady Crimson Tide came out aggressively from the opening tap and grabbed a 12-6 advantage at the first buzzer.
However, foul trouble soon plagued Everett in the second quarter. Fenelon, Sweeney, and DeSouza all were forced to the bench when they picked up their third personals and Somerville took advantage of the situation to move out to a 19-15 lead at the half. Everett never quite regained their momentum and eventually fell by a final score of 56-31.
However, the biggest game of the week for Everett awaited against Saugus of the NEC Friday night at the EHS gym. The Lady Crimson Tide had dropped the first meeting between the teams, 58-53, in a contest which Turner said was a disappointing defeat.
“I felt as though we were a better team than Saugus, but we didn’t play with the kind of intensity that we needed,” said the coach. “We had to have this game in order to keep our chances for a tourney berth alive, and that meant that we had to come ready to play.”
Turner received the effort she was looking for from her charges from the opening tap. The Lady Crimson Tide played solidly at both ends of the floor in the opening 16 minutes and held leads of 11-7 at the end of the first period and 23-18 at the half. However, the visiting Lady Sachems came to life after the intermission and moved out to a 37-33 advantage by the end of the third frame.
“We knew that our season potentially was on the line,” said Turner, “so we had to dig deep and play our best.”
And indeed, the Lady Crimson Tide turned in one of their best eight minutes of basketball of the season, outplaying Saugus in all aspects of the game to outscore the visitors 23-11 in the final period to come away with a 56-48 victory.
Senior Lisa Aylward came through with her best scoring performance in an EHS uniform, as she pumped in a career high 25 points, including six straight points at the start of the fourth quarter that pushed Everett into a 39-37 lead that the Lady Crimson Tide never relinquished.
“Lisa put us on her back and carried us to the win,” said Turner. Turner also cited the clutch free throw shooting of Fenelon in the final frame, who sank eight of her nine points from the charity stripe in the closing minutes to foreclose any possibility of a Saugus comeback.
Cyrus also played a key role in the triumph, adding 15 points to the Everett cause. DeSouza chipped in with five and Pierce scored two points to round out the Everett scoring chart.
So, with four games to go, and two wins needed for their ticket on a ride to the Journey to the Tourney, Everett High girls hoop fans will be looking for a cause to celebrate, and read about, by this time next week.