Patriots qualify for the state tournament

To paraphrase Paul Revere, the new cry being heard around the Northeastern Conference these days is, “The (Lady) Patriots are coming, the (Lady) Patriots are coming!”

The Revere High girls basketball team burned three opponents last week with three decisive victories that not only stretched their winning streak to six games and secured them a berth in the state tournament for the first time in many years, but that also made a statement to one and all up and down the North Shore that the Revere girls program ranks among the elite in the NEC.

The Lady Patriots hit the road to Swampscott to open their week against the defending Division 3 state champion Lady Blue. Although Swampscott lost some of their key players from last year, they still have enough firepower to rank in the top tier of the NEC this season and are in contention for a state tourney berth.

However, Revere set the tone of this one early and often, as the Lady Patriots stormed out to a 20-6 lead after the first quarter and led 29-16 at halftime. By the end of the third period, the Lady Pats held a commanding 44-19 advantage and coasted to a 54-34 triumph.

“This was a huge win for us over a quality team in their gym,” said RHS head coach Diana DeCristoforo. “Our passing was phenomenal and we stayed out of foul trouble despite playing aggressively on defense. Everyone played a part in the win.”

The runaway victory set the tone for Revere’s trifecta of perfection during the week. The Lady Patriots led from the outset of every game, built up a nice lead by the half, and then turned on the defensive pressure after the intermission to pound their opponents into submission.

“At the halftime break, I always emphasize to the team that we want to work hard on defense in order to make our offense,” said DeCristoforo. “We might be sputtering offensively, but if we make the other team commit turnovers, we will create opportunities on offense. Holding Swampscott to just three points in the third period on their home floor really says something about the defensive intensity of our girls.”

The victory also demonstrated another hallmark of this year’s squad, as three Lady Patriots reached double figures, led by freshman Gena Restiano with 18 points. Morgan Jenkins was next with 15 and Marisa Parent hit for 10.

“Our goal at the start of the season was to make sure everybody became involved in the offense,” said DeCristoforo. “We are a much more dangerous team when everybody can put the ball in the basket.”

The next night the Lady Pats faced an old GBL rival Medford, a team which was pumped up to get some revenge for the 64-41 pasting from Revere in the first game of the season.

However, DeCristoforo’s Destroyers quickly deflated the Lady Mustangs’ hopes of giving Revere a wild ride. The Lady Patriots jumped out to a 21-13 advantage after the first frame which they expanded to 39-25 by the half. Another tight period of defense after the intermission limited Medford to just eight points in the third quarter as Revere tacked onto its lead, 49-33, at the third buzzer, from where they cruised to a 66-47 win.

Jenkins topped the scoring column with 23 points and Restiano showed she can shoot as well as take it to the basket, as Gena hit on four treys to end up with 21 points on the night. Her backcourt running mate, Parent, chipped in with nine points, while Ashley DeFraia, Caitlyn Caramello, and Nicole Kjersgard hit for four each and Melissa Adreani contributed two.

However, the biggest test of the week awaited on Friday against Danvers, which at the time was 9-2 and alone in first place in the South Division of the NEC. Moreover, the Lady Falcons had defeated Gloucester, a team that beat Revere, and had lost by only a point to once beaten Peabody, to whom Revere fell earlier in the season by 20.

So on paper, it looked like it could be a long night for DeCristoforo and Company. But, in the coach’s words, “We’ve really come together as a team since the season started. Our younger players are feeling more comfortable and confident. We’ve been working hard and working together and it’s really starting to pay off.”

Unfortunately for the Lady Falcons, they were the invited guests for Revere’s “coming together” and “pay off” party. Revere once again took control at the start and led at all of the quarter poles, 13-7, 31-23, and 48-31, with the third quarter once again highlighted by another “turning offense into defense” fireworks display by the Lady Patriots. The final score of 64-41 was indicative of Revere’s dominance.

“Danvers outsizes us, but at the start of every game we test the other team’s guards to see if they can keep up with us,” said DeCristoforo. “We have the fastest guards in the league, but we also have girls in the front court who can run the floor with them. We beat Danvers to every loose ball and took it to their basket on offense.”

Restiano topped the point parade again with 16 points, followed by Jenkins with 14. However, senior captain Nicole Kjersgard, who has seen limited action thus far this season while recovering from a knee injury, turned in a huge game with a double double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I can’t say enough about the contribution Nicole made at both ends of the court,” said DeCristoforo. “She finally seemed to have the confidence in her knee to run all out. She’s a great leader for our team and her return will be a big plus for us.”

The Lady Patriots, who now stand at a lofty 11-3 on the season, have another busy week on tap. On Monday they played former GBL rival Malden and yesterday (Tuesday) traveled to Salem.

Friday brings the game of the season, thus far, in the NEC, when undefeated Lynn English comes to town.

“We’ve had that one circled on our calendar for a while,” said DeCristoforo. “The win over Danvers showed us that we can play with anyone. We’ll be ready to give it our best shot against English.”

Next Tuesday the girls head to Beverly.

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