PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Revere’s Pamela Gonzalez goes in for a layup past the outstretched arm of Peabody’s Catherine Manning.
By JOYCE EREKSON
REVERE — Like a dinner guest who doesn’t know when to go home, the Peabody High girls basketball team hung around all night before Revere could finally turn off the lights and go to bed.
The Patriots defeated the Tanners 61-55 Thursday night at Revere High and doing so, they managed to go undefeated in the Northeastern Conference under first-year coach Lianne O’Hara. They’re also undefeated overall (18-0) with two non-league games remaining.
“I consider myself lucky because I walked into a program that was already successful,” O’Hara said. “It’s hard work and luck. These girls are really determined. Really, the motivation is from them.”
Peabody finished 12-4 in the Northeastern Conference and is 12-6 overall heading in the final two non-league games of the season.
Neither team really seemed to click in the early going, but the Tanners struggled the most, scoring only two points in the first quarter. The lack of offensive production would come back to haunt them when they made a run at the Patriots late in the game, but didn’t have the juice to overcome such a slow start.
Revere led 13-2 after the first quarter and 26-14 at the half. The Patriots kept the Tanners at a healthy distance 10-12 points most of the way, but things got a little interesting in the fourth quarter when Peabody senior Melissa Gray, who only had two points in the first half, started to heat up. She scored 15 points in a fourth quarter, including a three that trimmed the deficit to four at 59-55 with less than 15 seconds to go. She finished with a game-high 20 points. Revere’s Valentina Pepic, who finished with 13 points (12 in the second half), hit two free throws near the end to ice the win.
“The first quarter killed us,” Peabody coach Stan McKeen said. “They led by 10, 12, 14 points the whole game. We were down by 12 going into the fourth quarter.”
Although not happy with the loss, McKeen loved that his team kept fighting.
“They haven’t quit all year,” McKeen said. “They scrapped and and fought. I wish we had played as tough in that first quarter as we did in that final quarter and and half.”
Gray had taken a hit to the nose early in the game and was “stone cold” in that first half, McKeen said. In the second half, she had four threes.
“When she finds her range, when she can hit a shot twice in a row, she’s deadly,” McKeen said.
O’Hara was impressed by Gray as well.
“She had an excellent shooting game,” O’Hara said. “I give her credit for that. She had something to prove. Her shots were going. She was getting contested shots. That’s a good player.”
The Tanners also had big games offensively from senior forward Chinenye Onwuogu (11 points), Catherine Manning (8 points) and senior captain Katie Wallace (7 points).
Revere had three players in double figures. Guard Tatiana Iacoviello had 16 points and the Patriots to bigs, Meaghan Gotham and Valentina Pepic, had 11 points and 13 points, respectively. Guard Pamela Gonzalez had nine points.