By Cary Shuman
The Revere High girls basketball team, led by first-year head coach Lianne O’Hara, won its first 18 games of the season, captured the Northeastern Conference North championship with a perfect 16-0 mark, and soared to the No. 1 ranking in all of Massachusetts.
While this weekend’s IAABO Board 27/Comcast Tournament didn’t go the way Revere had hoped with losses to Braintree and Woburn, O’Hara and Company will now take their lofty 18-2 record in to the Division 1 North Tournament where they will be one of the top contenders for a trip to the state semifinals at the TD Garden.
As a reward for its highly successful campaign, Revere will host its first tournament game at the Roland Merullo Fieldhouse next week.
The tournament pairings will be announced Friday and one game many would like to see is a rematch with Woburn, who eliminated Revere in last year’s North final and then bested the Patriots, 60-50, in Sunday’s Comcast consolation game. Revere and Woburn could potentially meet in the North semifinals.
When All-Scholastic candidate Valentina Pepic scored the first eight points against Woburn, it appeared that the Lady Patriots were on their way to avenging their prior defeat to the Tanners.
But Woburn, led by senior guard Marissa Gattuso (19 points), had an excellent second half and pulled away in the final two minutes.
Gattuso’s late surge overshadowed a superb effort by Revere junior Pamela Gonzalez, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Gonzalez went head-to-head with Gattuso for most of the game in a battle of two of the best guards in the region.
Pepic led Revere with 14 points and was selected to the Comcast All-Tournament Team. Meaghan Gotham had seven points and a team-high nine rebounds. Tatiana Iacoviello swished three 3-pointers for nine points. Emily DiGiulio played well, contributing six points and two assists.
Despite the losses in the Comcast, Revere earned the respect of opposing coaches. Braintree’s Kristen McDonnell and Woburn’s Stephen Sullivan had been eyeing Revere from a distance all season and knew all about Pepic, Gotham, and Gonzalez and mates and their No. 1 ranking.
“We were trying to keep Revere’s forwards as far away from the basket as possible – they’re great players and we knew that so that was the game plan going in to it and I thought our kids did a great job with it,” said McDonnell, whose team beat Revere, 71-46.
Sullivan said his team had been anticipating a potential game against Revere.
“We knew Revere was a team that was going to be one of the top seeds in Division 1 North so that’s a team we’re going to measure ourselves against,” said Sullivan.
O’Hara felt her team was tense in the opening quarter against Braintree but she was proud of how the players responded in the second half.
“What I’m most happy about is the perseverance they showed in the second half – they were really digging deep,” said O’Hara. “We talked about grit at halftime and that desire to keep working.”
Bishop Feehan (Attleboro), another South powerhouse, bested Braintree, 52-46, in the Comcast championship game Monday.
But before Revere has a rematch with Braintree in the Garden or a showdown with Feehan or Newton North – the Division 1 North sectional field awaits.
O’Hara has been getting her team ready in spirited practices during school vacation week. Having won a state title as an assistant coach at Bishop Fenwick last year, O’Hara knows what it takes to be No. 1 in March.