Sports

Marblehead clinches state tournament spot with win over Malden

Emily Clough had 10 points and eight rebounds in the Magicians 53-19 win over Malden. (Item File Photo)

MARBLEHEAD — It all came down to the final game of the season to decide whether the Marblehead girls basketball team would make it into the state tournament, and the Magicians came through in a big way. With a 53-19 win over Malden at home Friday night, Marblehead closes out the regular season at 10-10 and earned a spot in the big dance.

“We’re very happy to make it into the tournament,” said Marblehead interim coach Paul Moran. “I’ve been coaching for a lot of years, and this might be the most resilient group of players I’ve had. They didn’t have the easiest time throughout the year, but they stuck together and worked hard every day and I couldn’t be any more proud.”

Sophomore Emily Clough (10 points, eight rebounds) and junior Maddy Lowy (10 points, three rebounds) led the offensive attack for the Magicians, while sophomore Leila Walton had six points. Senior captain Darcy O’Sullivan, sophomore Maddie Erskine and sophomore Fehr Gillett each added four points. In total, 13 of the 14 Marblehead players who saw the floor scored at least one basket.

“All of these kids come in and work hard all season long, and it pays off when you have games like tonight where everyone contributes,” said Moran. “To have the younger players come in and experience more minutes than they’re used to is good too, and it’ll only help us in the long run.”

And while scoring 53 points is a good way to put yourself in position to win most games, it was the defensive effort by Marblehead that sparked Friday’s victory. The Magicians didn’t allow double-digit points in any quarter, and the most they allowed in a quarter was six points.

“This was just a great night for the girls, everything came together on the defensive end,” said Moran. “You can’t take anyone lightly in this league, and the girls worked hard all night long on both ends of the floor. They made plays all night for us.”

That defensive effort was apparent right away in the first quarter. The Magicians opened the game with some suffocating full-court defense, forcing a number of Malden turnovers and turning them into fastbreak baskets on offense. Marblehead opened the game on a 14-0 run before Malden could get a basket, and the Magicians led 16-3 at the end of the first.

The second quarter is where Marblehead ran away with the game. Behind more suffocating defense and a few clutch 3-pointers from Lowy, the Magicians were able to extend their lead to as much as 28 points. After a late 3-pointer from Malden, Marblehead went into halftime with a 34-9 lead.

The second half was much of the same, although Marblehead didn’t score quite as many points and turned the ball over a bit more often due to the fact that there were younger players out on the floor. But still, the Magicians were able to play solid defense at all positions and coast to a comfortable victory.

With the regular season now over and the state tournament seedings not being announced until next Friday, the Magicians have some time to kill before the tournament. Moran says that the team will have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off before getting back to work, and the Magicians will play a scrimmage game against Greater Lawrence Wednesday to help prepare.

“That’s going to be a good way to get back into the flow of things after a few days off,” Moran said. “We’ll come back to practice on Tuesday, scrimmage against a tournament team Wednesday and then keep practicing until our tournament game. We’ve just got to keep working at this point.

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