Tech’s Underwood scores 1,000th career point in girls basketball

The eighth-grade program at Lynn Tech has come and gone, but the girls basketball team is still reaping the benefits.Jessica Underwood and Shena Mitchell were in the starting lineup for the Tigers as eighth-graders, and on Friday, Underwood saw what five years of varsity playing experience can do. The senior needed only one point to reach the 1,000-career-point milestone, and she got it a couple of minutes into the game on a drive to the hoop.Tech went on to defeat Greater Lowell, 65-45, with Underwood contributing 12 points. On Monday, Mitchell will try to replicate the feat. Her 19 points against Greater Lowell brought her to within seven points of the milestone.”They were best friends coming in as eighth-graders. Shena had the natural ability. Jessica had to work for it,” Tech coach John Crowley said.And work she did. Crowley said Underwood has been diligent about working on her game in the offseason, playing summer ball, fall ball, and AAU, and the dedication has paid off. Crowley said he’s seen every point Underwood has scored in high school, and none of them came from much beyond the foul line.”Everything has come from working down low. She worked very hard her sophomore and junior year to develop her low post move. She’s very athletic with a quick jump and a quick second jump. She’s developed a very, very nice, soft touch under the basket,” Crowley said.Crowley said Underwood is also probably the team’s most consistent foul shooter, again, because she has worked on it.”She’s taken full advantage of five years here,” he said.Underwood has found a spot on the wing this year, and as a result, she’s gotten many breakaways and has done a nice job scoring on the uncontested layups. Underwood has been a captain for four years and an all-star for three. She’s also a strong candidate for league MVP this year.Since the dynamic duo of Underwood and Mitchell arrived on the scene five years ago, the Tigers have done nothing but get better. As eighth-graders, the team just missed qualifying for the tournament with a 9-10 record. As freshmen, the team finished 19-3 and went to the North final before losing. In their sophomore year, the two helped bring the Tigers to the North semifinal, where they lost to Mt. Alvernia. The team finished 20-3 that year. Last year, Tech went 18-6 and lost to Manchester in the tournament.”We’ve had very successful years,” Crowley said, noting that Tech has won the Commonwealth Conference title the last four years. The Tigers have a shot at a co-championship if they can win their next two games.In addition to Underwood’s 12 points and Mitchell’s 19 against Greater Lowell, the Tigers had strong games from Fanice Baptiste (nine points and some excellent defense), Katrina Freeman (12 points and 10 assists) and Zulieka Lopez (six points).Tech is 10-4 overall, 10-2 in the Commonwealth Conference.

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