Revere girls basketball clinches State Tournament invitation:Pepic (22 points) powers Pats to 11th win
By Cary Shuman
The Revere High girls basketball team won the Colonial Holiday Classic in Acton Boxboro in December. The Lady Patriots have a giant inter-sectional matchup versus Braintree in the Comcast Tournament at Malden Catholic in February.
And they have now wrapped up an invitation as quickly as possible to the biggest showcase of them all: the MIAA State Tournament that concludes in March.
Led by Valentina Pepic’s 22 points and nine rebounds, the Revere girls stormed past Saugus, 57-30, Thursday night on the Lady Sachems’ homecourt. It was Revere’s 11th victory in as many games.
Revere Director of Athletics Frank Shea congratulated the team on qualifying for the tournament. “It’s a great accomplishment to qualify so early,” said Shea, who led the Savio Prep boys hoop team to the 2006 state final at the Garden. “Now the team can concentrate on winning the conference title and getting a high seed in the tournament.”
The Lady Sachems (9-3) are having a very good season and played Revere tough for a half (24-14) before coach Lianne O’Hara’s unbeaten contingent pulled away in the second half.
Pepic continues to establish herself as an All-Scholastic candidate. She was 10-of-15 from the floor but it was her interior defensive play and rebounding that helped limited Saugus to its lowest point total of the season.
Meanwhile, junior Pamela Gonzalez is also playing at an All-Scholastic caliber level. The 5-foot-8-inch backcourt woman had 11 points and five rebounds but more importantly she displayed her superb ballhandling skills against Saugus’s game-long full-court press.
Junior guard Tatiana Iacoviello had an eye-opening 11 assists, consistently finding the open teammate for baskets. Senior captain Meaghan Gotham had four points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Emily DiGiulio score four points to go along with two steals and two assists. Senior guard Elizabeth Lake made her presence felt off the bench with five points, including a three-pointer.
Also contributing for Revere were Samantha Woodman (4 points), Erica Cheever (2) and Kayla Novak (2).
Saugus coach Mark Schruender credited Revere for its outstanding second half of basketball.
“Revere played very well,” said Schruender. “I remember one play they got the ball in to Valentina in the low post. We had her fronted and had weak-side help but they just put the ball in the right spot and Valentina finished it.”
Schruender was referring to a beautiful entry pass from DiGiulio to Pepic.
“Give Revere credit,” said the Saugus coach. “They’re a well-coached team. They’re a very good team, they’re a deep team. But we’re going to get better from this. Every year we get a little bit closer to Revere so we’re moving forward.”
Lianna O’Hara said her team’s defense carried the day.
“Defense has definitely been our focus all season, to get stops and steals,” said O’Hara. “The heart of the team is going hard on defense.”
O’Hara went with her twin 6-foot-2 talents, Pepic and Gotham, in the starting five. “I usually don’t start them together but I knew that Saugus was smaller and aggressive so I knew it was opportunity for them to get some rebounds. We had 22 rebounds in the first half. That’s pretty awesome.”
O’Hara was pleased with another sterling effort by Pepic at the offensive end, notably in the third quarter when Revere built a 20-point lead.
“It happened so smoothly in a way that you don’t really notice that she [Valentina] is standing out that much,” said Pepic. “She’s just really talented and a hard-working kid.”
Revere was set to host Gloucester Tuesday. The Patriots travel to Danvers (7-2) Friday night for a game against the high-flying Falcons. Danvers coach Pat Veilleiux had a midcourt seat (in the top row) at the Revere-Saugus game Thursday.
RhS sports Roundup
RHS boys hoop edged by Chelsea, tops Saugus
The Revere High boys basketball team engaged in a pair of hard-fought, exciting contests this past week, coming up short in an epic battle at Chelsea last Wednesday, but then bouncing back for a big win over Saugus the following evening.
Last Wednesday’s encounter with the Red Devils, the Patriots’ ancient foes from another era who have renewed their rivalry on the hardcourt in recent years, took place before a packed and raucous crowd at the CHS gym.
Revere started quickly, jumping out to an 8-2 lead, but the Red Devils put together a 12-0 run to move out to a 14-8 advantage before Revere answered with a six-point streak to leave the score at level, 14-14, at the first buzzer.
The teams continued to trade punches and counterpunches in the second stanza. Patriot big man Mass Joof (16 points, eight rebounds) gave Revere a huge spark off the bench with 12 points in the quarter, including a layup to take a 31-29 lead with seconds before the end of the half. However, Chelsea’s hot-shooting junior forward Kris Torres (26 points, including six three-pointers) drained a trey as time expired to give Chelsea a 32-31 edge at the intermission.
“Torres really hurt us tonight with his three-point shooting,” said RHS head coach David Leary. “We had seen them play twice and he had not really been lighting it up from deep, but tonight he could not miss.”
Revere started to take control in the third quarter thanks to a man-to-man defense that slowed Chelsea down, holding the Red Devils to 11 points in the quarter.
Offensively, Patriot sophomore guard Marcus Brunson-Perez (eight points, five assists) nailed a pair of treys and senior Curtis High (16 points, six rebounds) made some tough shots in the lane to give Revere a 48-43 lead at the end of the third period.
The fourth quarter played out with the same script for the first few minutes, as the rivals exchanged baskets, leaving Revere with a six point lead with 3:30 left in the game.
However, the torrid Torres found his shot again, knocking down consecutive three-pointers to bring the contest to a 54-54 deadlock as the clocked ticked under 2:00 to go.
Revere frustratingly missed an opportunity to move ahead on a few missed shots and putbacks, while Chelsea’s Franklin Cruz (18 points, six rebounds) made two big free throws to give Chelsea its first lead of the second half, 56-54, with under a minute remaining.
The Patriots struggled to get a basket on their ensuing possession and Cruz went to the line again, making 1-of-2 shots, giving Revere a chance to tie the game.
“We got two very good looks at a game-tying three-point shot, but just came up short,” said Leary. “I give Chelsea all the credit. They hit some huge shots and free throws down the stretch to close the game. I thought we forced some shots instead of getting the ball inside, like we had in the third to grab the six point lead, but we battled hard tonight against a very good team.” The win was Chelsea’s fifth straight.
It often is said in the sports world that the best antidote to a tough loss is to play the following night, and the Patriots proved the truth of that axiom when they put the Chelsea loss behind them with a 49-45 victory over a very big and tough Saugus quintet on the RHS floor.
The defenses controlled the play for most of the evening. Both teams started slowly, which would prove to be the rule as scoring was at a premium throughout the entire 32 minutes.
After Saugus closed the first quarter on a 4-0 run to take a 12-10 lead, Revere switched out of its zone defense into an aggressive man-to-man in the second quarter that put the clamps on Saugus, holding the Sachems to just four points in the eight-minute period.
“Our defense had to win us this game,” said Leary. “We could see early on that our shooting and scoring were going to be tough to come by as Saugus is by far the biggest and longest team we have faced this year.”
Revere’s defensive pressure created the Patriot offense, thanks to some steals and layups, allowing Revere to take a 20-16 lead into halftime.
The second half was more of the same, as both teams struggled to score. Revere finally opened up some daylight with a 6-0 spurt on the strength of a Marcus Brunson-Perez (10 points, seven assists) three-point shot and a conventional three-point play from senior guard Gerald Jean-Charles (12 points) to give Revere some breathing room at the end of the third period, 32-28.
Revere pushed its advantage to seven points, but Saugus refused to concede and responded with a 7-0 run to bring the game back to level at 35-35.
The Patriots reasserted a four-point edge on back-to-back jump shots by senior Curtis High (10 points, six rebounds), but Saugus answered with a three-point play to bring the Revere margin back to one point, where it stayed for the next few minutes until Saugus forged ahead.
However, the Revere seniors were not going to let this one slip away. Jean-Charles drained a clutch trey from the corner and, after a defensive stop, Brendan Hayes sliced to the basket for a big layup to extend the lead to four and help seal the win.
“We showed some maturity and mental toughness as a team tonight,” noted Leary. “Coming off the loss to Chelsea and then having a hard time scoring early against Saugus, we could have hung our heads and given, in especially when Curtis got in the early foul trouble.
“But we responded with our defense and toughness,” continued the coach. “This was a great team win (19 baskets on 17 assists) and I hope we gain some confidence from this and it catapults our season.”
Leary and his crew, who now stand at 5-6 for the season, were scheduled to play at Gloucester last night (Tuesday) and will host Danvers Friday. They will trek to Beverly next Tuesday.
RHS hockey team tops Beverly, 4-2
The Revere High hockey team bounced back from a disappointing 7-1 loss at Somerville last Wednesday and posted a 4-2 win over Beverly Saturday evening at Cronin Rink.
The triumph over the visiting Panthers marked a bit of a milestone for the Patriots, inasmuch as it was the program’s first victory over a rival from the North Division of the Northeastern Conference in at least the past five years.
Jim Pandolfo neatly lifted a backhander into the Beverly net, assisted by Rob Stoica, to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead in the opening period, but the Panthers grabbed the lead in the middle stanza with a pair of lamplighters. However, Revere’s Mike Giordano brought the game back to level with an unassisted tally before the horn to set the stage for a decisive final 15 minutes.
The contest appeared headed for a deadlock, as the teams battled evenly throughout the final period. However, with 1:30 to go, Anthony Cecca and Giordano broke in on a 2-on-1, with Giordano making a nice pass to Anthony, who slid the puck past the Beverly goalie.
“It was a textbook 2-on-1 beak and Anthony and Mike finished it perfectly,” said RHS head coach Joe Cicarello. Cecca, who was playing on the first line with Giordano and Rick Briana in the absence of injured Mike Goroshko, then put the game away moments later when he delivered the puck into an empty Beverly net for the 4-2 finale.
“This was a big win for us in a lot of ways,” said Cicarello, whose Patriots stayed above .500 (with a 5-4-1 record), the winning percentage they need to attain in order to qualify for the post-season state tourney. “Our total team defense was the key to the victory. Everybody battled and did their job the entire game and gave great support to goalie Ken Uminski.”
Cicarello also was referring to the way his players responded from their disappointing loss to Somerville three days previously.
“The Somerville game was our low point of the season,” said the veteran coach. bound. “We had beaten Somerville the week before and were tied at 0-0 after one period when we completely collapsed, both on and off the ice. We tell the team all the time that hockey is like life — it’s not what happens that counts, but rather how you react to it. We challenged them to display their maturity in the next game and they did.”
Cicarello and his crew have a busy week ahead. They host East Longmeadow, which is making a long trek from Western Mass., this evening (Wednesday) at Cronin at 6:30; play at Lynn at Connery Arena Saturday; and travel northward to Gloucester next Wednesday.
Gentile, Sinatra top scorers for RHS boys
Zach Gentile and David Sinatra were the top point-scorers for the Revere High boys indoor track team in their meet last week at Peabody.
Both Gentile and Sinatra scored six points apiece. Zach won the high jump on fewer misses with a leap of 5′-7″ and took third in the mile with a time of 5:04.2, which was just 1/10 of a second behind the second-place Peabody boy.
David took first place in his specialty, the 45 hurdles, with a clocking of 6.2, handily breezing past his Peabody opponents, who finished in 6.5 seconds. David grabbed third spot in the high jump, clearing the bar at 5′-5″.
Teammate Jonathan Hysenaj took second place in the 45 yard dash with his sprint of 5.3. Morris Toglan also scored three points for his second-place performance in the shot-put with a throw of 41′-2″.
Single points for the Revere cause for third-place finishes were delivered by Sebastian Mejia in the two mile run in 11:08.1, which was just off the winning pace of 11:06, and Christian Molina in the 60 dash in 1:39.4.
The Patriots, who now are 3-2 for the season, host Beverly tomorrow (Thursday).
Shanbar wins shotput in meet with Peabody
The Revere High girls indoor track team went up against Peabody, the top team in the Northeastern Conference, and came up on the short end of a 77-8 decision in a meet held at Peabody last week.
“Peabody is a powerhouse. They have top-level talent and tremendous depth and it showed against us on Wednesday,” said RHS head coach Antonio LaBruna.
Lady Patriot Rachel Shanbar earned first place in the shot-put event with a toss of 31′-7.5″ to place five points onto the Revere side of the scoresheet. Rachel handily defeated her opposition; her closest rival’s throw was more than five feet shorter at 26′-2″.
Hannah Fitzpatrick posted Revere’s other three points with a second-place finish in the 600 in 1:50.6. Hannah narrowly fell short of victory in the race, coming across the line just 0.4 behind the first-place Peabody girl.
“The highlight of the meet on our side was Rachel Shanbar qualifying for the Division 2 State Meet in shot-put,” said LaBruna. “She’s only thrown 31’ once and it was last spring, so she was due for a bomb. We’re hoping she can score at the NEC League Meet in a couple weeks, but it’s likely going to take another 31’ throw for that to happen.”
LaBruna and his crew are set to host Beverly tomorrow (Thursday) at the Merullo Fieldhouse.
By Cary Shuman
The Lake Effect
Senior guard Elizabeth Lake was certainly ready when coach Lianne O’Hara called for her in the Revere-Saugus game.
Lake made her presence felt immediately by draining a three-pointer. Lake also had another two-pointer, an assist, and a deflection in a strong effort off the bench.
Lake helped Revere take control of the game during a third quarter in which the team outscored Saugus, 14-6, on its way to a 38-20 lead after three. Lake was also part of the game-sealing fourth-quarter run in the eventual 57-30 victory.
Revere’s bench has been outstanding in spelling the starters and Lake, one of three seniors on the roster (Samantha Woodman and Meaghan Gotham are the other Class of ’17 members) has been dependable in her role for the 11-0 Patriots.
O’Hara has called on her bench often and Lake and Company are keeping the pressure on opponents with their defensive intensity and ability to score points in a hurry.
Congratulations to Samantha Woodman for being named Revere Elks Teenage of the Month for December. Woodman is setting a great example for the underclassmen at the school with her academic and athletic accomplishments. Woodman, an All-Conference field hockey player, and Valentina Pepic (volleyball) were among the Revere High athletes honored by the Revere School Committee for being All-Conference/All-Star selections during the fall sports season.
Junior standout Pamela Gonzalez brought her big-time game to Saugus: outside shooting, driving to the hoop, passing, rebounding, defending, directing the offense, and beating the Saugus press. Gonzalez is a “player to watch” in all phases of the game.
Reporters sought out Valentina Pepic for her thoughts after the Revere-Saugus game. Pepic was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points.
“We were ready for this game. We all worked hard as a team. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We saw Saugus play St. Mary’s and we knew they were tough. The team has been working the ball around great and I have confidence in my shot. It’s great [to be undefeated] but it’s not over yet. We still have a lot of work to do. We need to practice and work hard.”
The Comcast Tournament (at Malden Catholic) will arguably have the top four basketball teams in Massachusetts in Bishop Feehan, Braintree, Woburn, and Revere – who are ranked 1-2-3-4 in this week’s Boston Globe Poll.