Lady Vikings clinch outright NEC ,South title
The Winthrop High girls basketball team learned the truth of the sports axiom that, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “A win is a win is a win.” That was especially true Tuesday evening, because the Lady Vikings’ 29-28 victory at Danvers clinched an outright Northeastern Conference South Division championship for Coach Ignacio Oyola and his crew.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we did what we had to do to get the job done,” said Oyola. “Both teams missed some easy shots, but overall it was a very tight defensive battle.”
After trailing 11-10 at the end of the first period, the Lady Vikings forged a small lead in the second frame that they maintained to the final buzzer. Winthrop took an 18-16 advantage into the intermission and held a 25-21 edge after three periods.
However, the Lady Vikings managed only three points in the final stanza and did not score a field goal for the final six minutes after Theresa Jones sank their only hoop of the quarter. Only a free throw by Nikki Tsiotis with about two minutes to play broke the Winthrop scoring drought and would prove to be the game-winning point.
But as ineffective as their offense may have been, the Lady Vikings’ defense was immense. Winthrop keyed on Danvers’ star player, Kasey Sherry (a front-runner for the NEC South Player of the Year), and held her to eight points, three of which came in the opening minute on an improbable turnaround jumper from the top of the key with the shot clock running down.
Winthrop kept Danvers off-balance all night by alternating a 3-2 zone defense with a man-to-man D.
Danvers had a chance to win in the waning seconds, but the Lady Vikings kept the ball away from Sherry and then made sure that the Lady Falcon who eventually took the final shot was rushed. Her attempt fell short and Winthrop needed only to inbound the ball with 1.2 seconds to play to hold onto the win, which they accomplished.
“Our first game with Danvers (which is in second place in the NEC South behind Winthrop) was close (a Winthrop win) and we knew that this would be another tough battle, especially in their place,” said Oyola. “It was their Senior Night, so they had a lot of motivation, but we also had a lot of motivation because we wanted to clinch the South title.”
Jones and Temison Meggison topped the Lady Viking point chart with six points each. Nikki Tsiotis added five, Ashelyne Babb and Nina Bartlett chipped in four, Kristen Siscamanis hit for two, and Polli T. sank a free throw in a game in which every point mattered.
The Lady Vikings were only 4-for-10 from the free throw line, a statistic that could have come back to haunt them.
Winthrop, which now stands at 14-3 overall and 11-2 in the NEC South (three games ahead of second place Danvers), plays at Saugus tonight (Thursday) and hosts Marblehead tomorrow evening at 5:00 to conclude their NEC schedule. The Lady Vikings will play in the St. Mary’s Spartan Tournament this weekend, opening Sunday in the preliminary round at 7:00 against the host St. Mary’s team (a for-certain rival in the upcoming Division 3 North Sectional of the state tournament) and then playing on Monday.
Winthrop will conclude its season next Thursday, hosting Somerville for Senior Night festivities.
Viking boys shut out Gloucester, Saugus
The Winthrop High boys hockey team posted a pair of impressive, shutout victories this past week, taking the measure of Gloucester last Wednesday, 2-0, and then blanking Saugus 4-0 on Monday.
Assistant Captain Chris “Buddy” Page continued to terrorize Winthrop’s Northeastern Conference, figuring in five of Winthrop’s six goals over the two games. Chris put Winthrop on the board first in both contests, scored again in the Saugus tilt, and assisted on teammates’ goals in both games.
Winthrop netminder Ray Feeley chalked up both wins with six periods of shutout hockey. Once again, the Vikings’ trademark defense was a bulwark in both games and Feeley made the big stops as needed as Winthrop recorded its seventh shutout of the season.
The encounter at Gloucester, a team with whom Winthrop battled to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting at Larsen Rink, saw Page stake the Vikings to a 1-0 lead in the opening period with assists from Pierce Lamberton and Pat Todisco. The 1-0 margin stood until, with about four minutes left in the game, Dave Capone gave Winthrop a big insurance goal on a power play on which Lamberton and Page earned the assists.
The win over Saugus was most notable for the rough and unsportsmanlike conduct of the Sachems, who played a rude host to the Vikings. Two Saugus players received disqualifications for hitting from behind.
“It got pretty ugly,” said WHS head coach Dale Dunbar. “It was a very rough game.”
Page once again got Winthrop going with a lamplighter in the first period, assisted by Lamberton, who himself had a hugely productive two-game stretch with a goal and three assists.
Dylan Driscoll, assisted by Jake McKinnon, made it 2-0 before the period ended.
After a scoreless middle frame, Winthrop tacked on two more markers in the final stanza. Page lit the lamp unassisted and then Lamberton put the icing on the Viking cake with his own lamplighter, assisted by Page.
The Vikings’ twin wins punched their ticket for a Journey to the Tourney. Winthrop stands at a sterling 9-3-4 overall as they enter the stretch run of the regular season.
Their contest with Beverly, which was snowed out by the blizzard on Saturday, tentatively has been rescheduled for this evening at 5:00 at Larsen. The Vikings will be back on the Larsen ice Saturday at 7:00 to entertain Danvers to close out their NEC schedule.
Next week the Vikings will host two non-league foes, Mansfield on Monday at 6:00 and then Blue Hills Regional next Thursday for Senior Night festivities.
Lady Bulldog hockey team to host Masco
The Winthrop Lady Bulldog hockey team, which earned a thrilling 3-2 win at Everett last Wednesday with a goal in the final minutes by Kara Donati to clinch a berth in the state tourney, will host Masconomet Saturday at Larsen Rink. Face-off time is 5:00.