PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Fenwick’s Jennie Meagher (left) pulls down a rebound in front of Bella Pomeroy of Manchester/Essex.
By MIKE ALONGI
DANVERS — Behind a relentless defensive team effort and a lights-out shooting night, the No. 6 Bishop Fenwick girls basketball team took down the No. 2 Manchester-Essex Hornets, 66-36, in the Division 3 North semifinals on Monday night at St. John’s Prep. The Crusaders recorded 17 steals as a team and also made 15 free throws and six three-pointers in the win.
“We had great intensity from everyone tonight,” said Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis. “We had a lot of steals, got a lot of pressure, and that’s who we are. When we’re out there causing havoc for the other team, that’s when we’re at our best.”
Sophomore guard Jaxson Nadeau was the leader on both ends of the floor for Fenwick, finishing with 15 points and seven steals.
“It’s happened to us a bunch in the past, when the opposing team is able to disrupt your best player, and that’s what Jaxson is for us,” DeBaggis said. “And it really disrupts the flow for the other team. A lot of the other girls get steals largely because of what she does out there, so she’s been huge for us.”
Senior Sam Mancinelli had a big game with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while junior Fredi DeGuglielmo had 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. Junior Courtney Norton added eight points.
It was a defensive battle on both ends to open the game, with turnovers coming left and right. Nadeau made her presence known early, scoring all nine points in the opening quarter for Fenwick while also grabbing four steals on the defensive end. The rest of the Crusaders played great team defense as well, and the score was just 9-4 in favor of Fenwick after the first quarter.
The second quarter was where the Crusaders took over. They kept up the defensive pressure, employing a full-court press on every single Hornets possession. But the real key to Fenwick’s big quarter was shooting, as the Crusaders outscored Manchester-Essex 24-6 in the quarter to roll to a 33-15 halftime lead.
“We haven’t seen much of that this year, the hot shooting,” said DeBaggis. “But we kept playing good defense as well, and I think that was key for us. Making shots will ebb and flow, but if you can continually play good defense, that’s what I care about.”
Fenwick was able to push the lead to as many as 32 points late in the third quarter, and despite a small run by the Hornets in the fourth quarter, the Crusaders were able to walk away with the big win.
The Crusaders (16-8) now find themselves back in the Division 3 North final for the second straight season, but the path to another sectional title will surely be a tough one. Fenwick is set to go up against either No. 1 seed Amesbury (20-1) or No. 5 St. Mary’s (15-8), a Catholic Central League rival that they’ve already lost to twice this season.
“Either way, I think it’s going to be our toughest game of the year,” DeBaggis said. “I think our team might want St. Mary’s a little more, just because of the two losses, but we’re going to be ready for whoever we face.”
Amesbury and St. Mary’s will play tonight at Billerica High School, while the Division 3 North final will be played at a date, time and location to be determined.