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St. Mary’s aims for repeat

One of many teams looking to go deep in state tourney

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Jennie Mucciarone played for defending Division 3 state champ St. Mary’s of Lynn against Coyle & Cassidy.

St. Mary’s of Lynn girls are the Division 3 state champions.

Yet the team that took the floor in the regular season finale Wednesday against visiting Coyle & Cassidy hardly resembled the 24-4 Spartan squad that walked off at the DCU Center last March after a 64-54 win over Lee. “We lost seven seniors, including three starters from last year’s championship team,’’ said coach JeffNewhall. One, Globe All-Scholastic ToriFaieta, was a major contributor at Division 2 Stonehill as a freshman.

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“We had some injuries early as well, with Brianna Rudolph [of Lynn] missing 15 games to a broken ankle; she was our second-leading scorer.’’

There are moments, though, when his squad shows its potential.

With the Spartans trailing Coyle & Cassidy, 26-20, sophomore guard JennieMucciarone of North Reading received a pass from Sharell Sanders of Lynn, and stared at the hoop from beyond the arc with 2 minutes in the third quarter.

Josj Reynolds for The Boston Globe

St. Mary’s of Lynn coach Jeff Newhall talks with his team during a timeout in the game against Coyle & Cassidy’s Lady Warriors on Wednesday.

Ball fakes didn’t budge defender Andreya DeSousa, so Mucciarone threw up the deep three. Swish. She netted 14 points in a 47-43 loss as the Spartans closed the season at 12-10. Mucciarone believes St. Mary’s will be a threat in the Division 3 North tournament this week. “Our league [Catholic Central) is one of the toughest in Massachusetts and our record definitely doesn’t show who we are,’’ she said.

With just two seniors, Ann Marie Idusuyi and Rachel Stueve, “how our younger players handle themselves will definitely shape our’’ play, said Newhall.

Here are other storylines to follow with the tourney tapping off this week.

Can St. John’s run a repeat?

With Pat Connaughton, state Player of the Year, draining treys for Notre Dame, Prep (13-7) has struggled to play consistently. But coach Sean Connolly believes the record is deceiving, with a pair of losses to once-beaten Central Catholic, and another to BC High.

“Our schedule is the toughest we’ve had since I have been here,’’ he said. “But with that, we’ve learned how hard we need to play against big time teams.’’

The Eagles have followed the lead of Tufts-bound 6-foot-5 senior Steve Haladyna, capable of playing any position on the floor. “Steve needs to play well for us deep in the tournament,’’ said Connolly. “But . . . we also need to have seven or eight guys come through, so our mental toughness will definitely be tested.’’

Can the unbeaten Andover and Reading girls teams finish their perfect runs?

With a 63-50 win over Acton-Boxborough Tuesday, the two-time defending Division 1 Andover girls finished a 22-0 regular season. And also got a good look at a team they might see down the road.

“We won’t always be up 20 points, so we need to stay focused when the pressure is on,’’ said Andover senior NicoleBoudreau, who recently netted her 2,000th career point.

Coach Jim Tildsley said this year’s tournament will be more challenging than the previous two. “Our first state title we were hunters; then the second time we were hunted. Now the only people who want us to win are the town and our team,’’ he said “Nicole will be the key for us. ’’

Middlesex Large champion Reading (20-0) also rolled through the regular season unbeaten. And the Rockets have no lack of motivation. After earning the top seed in the Division 2 North bracket last season at 19-1, they were ousted by Gloucester, 66-62, in the semifinals.

“Not making it to the finals stunk,’’ said coach Kim Penney. “This year we preached teamwork, and with four outstanding seniors we have a pretty focused group.’’ Leading the way is junior guard Olivia Healy, a 1,000-point scorer. “She’s not about the points. When she’s on the floor, everything gets easier for everyone,’’ Penney said.

Can St. Mary’s boys rally behind senior leaders in Division 4?

The Spartans (16-6) lost three of their last four: at Cardinal Spellman, a 1-point loss to St. John’s Prep, and a 13-point loss to Cathedral.

Coach Kevin Moran believes that this team is different than any other he has had in Lynn. “We have six or seven seniors who have really stepped up for us this season in big situations,’’ he said. One key game was a decisive comeback at Catholic Central rival Arlington Catholic after losing the first matchup at home. “We lost to the Prep twice within a couple points (78-76 and 57-56), so our guys definitely know that if they can execute and play with consistency, we’ll hang in there.’’

Seniors Nick Gagliolo and Devin Thompson are averaging 17 points apiece per game. “Devin and Nick have played extremely well all season, and their performance with our senior leadership will certainly be key factors in our tournament run’’ in Division 4.

Stewart is Masco girls’ backbone

Averaging 21 points per game, senior guard BrookeStewart led the Masconomet Regional girls to a 17-3 finish.

“Brooke has been the backbone of our team all year,’’ coach Bob Romeo said of the William & Mary recruit.

Stewart was limited to seven shots in the second half against Bishop Feehan in the Comcast Tournament, yet Masconomet prevailed, 61-57. “In Division 1 North play, any team can play with anyone,’’ said Romeo. “But what will separate us is how we match up with other teams, records aside.’’

As Andover’s Jim Tildsley points out, it’s the start of a whole new game. “Now everyone is 0-0, so teams need to come back focused and ready to go.’’

Ryan MacInnis can be reached at ryan_macinnis@uml.student.edu.
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