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    Strong seasons pay off with state titles for four teams

    Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
    Danvers celebrates its victory over St. Joseph Central for the Division 3 state title.

    A perfect 27-0 season for the Andover girls, and a three-peat as Division 1 state champs, after their 61-45 win over Holyoke?

    Let’s start with 51 hard-nosed practices, and a consistent effort every day. That same work ethic applied to the Reading High girls, who capped their 25-0 run with a 48-27 win over Tyngsborough for the Division 2 title. And the Pentucket girls (23-4) made it a sweep for the region, completing their 23-4 campaign with a 55-32 victory over Sabis International of Springfield to capture the Division 3 title.

    In the Division 3 boys’ state final, Danvers (21-4) pulled away from St. Joseph Central of Pittsfield, 59-47.


    All four teams succeeded in their quest for a championship.

    Golden Warriors: 3-peat

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    Defining moment of the season: Andover had a target on its back all season. Trailing by two, 27-25, in the state final against Holyoke, the Golden Warriors responded with a 34-point second half, with Nicole Boudreau pouring in 20 of her game-high 31 points.

    MVP: The Boston College-bound Boudreau averaged 22.6 points per game as a senior, finishing with 2,200 for her career.

    Unsung Hero: Senior guard Ally Fazio, who will play lacrosse at Connecticut, stepped forward as a defender, limiting Holyoke star Monique Heard to 17 points.

    Coach Jim Tildsley: “We had a target on our backs all season but they wanted the three-peat more than anything. I told them from the first day that it would be up to them when their last practice will be and that ended up being a good motivator for us.’’


    The Future: Two starters, Boudreau and Fazio, will graduate. “Obviously it’s tough to lose two great leaders and Nicole’s talent, but our girls are going to work hard,’’ said Tildsley. “As far as leadership goes, they’ll be right up there with this year’s leaders.’’

    Rockets: A perfect finish

    Defining moment of the season: Trailing Bishop Feehan by 11 at halftime of the Comcast tournament, Reading battled back for a 63-46 win. That comeback paved the way for the Rockets’ second-half rally from a 10-point deficit, 27-17, in the Division 2 semifinals at TD Garden against Scituate, according to coach Kim Penney.

    MVP: Junior guard Olivia Healy (20-plus points per game) drained 16 points in the title win over Tyngsborough.

    Unsung Hero: Junior guard Morgan O’Brien’s 31-point performance in the state semifinals against Scituate was one for the ages.

    Coach Kim Penney: “They’ve worked hard, set goals and it’s a wonderful feeling to accomplish such a feat. In games we didn’t play well in, we didn’t rebound well, so rebounding was huge for the success of this team.’’


    The Future: The Rockets will graduate four seniors who were an integral part of the program’s success, but will return Healy, who was the backbone all season. “Next year, we’ll need to have more players step up who may not have gotten significant minutes,’’ said Penney. “We’ll need to have them play big roles next year, but this year we had such a strong bench that I know the girls will work hard and come back ready.’’

    Sachems soar in Division 3

    Defining moment of the season: After registering a three-point win over Division 1 foe Masconomet, Pentucket closed out the regular season with 12 straight wins.

    MVP: Senior captain Sarah Higgins poured in 22 points in the state final against Sabis International after contributing 16 of her 20 points in the second half during the state semifinals against Fairhaven.

    Unsung Hero: Freshman point guard Kelsie McNamara netted 14 points in the state final after scoring 10 in the semis, including three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

    Coach John McNamara: “Our defensive pressure in the tournament was outstanding. A few of the girls on this year’s team were on the team that went 26-0 two years ago and lost at the DCU [to Lee], and it definitely helped in terms of motivation.’’

    The Future: The Sachems graduate four seniors, including Higgins, but will return experience and confidence, according to McNamara. “We have high goals as a team - win the Cape Ann League and make a run at the state tournament. And next year won’t be any different.’’

    A first for Falcon boys

    Defining moment of the season: Staring at a 10-point deficit against Wayland with 1:26 left in the Division 3 North semifinals, Danvers charged back with a 14-4 blitz and pulled out a 70-67 overtime win.

    MVP:George Merry, a 6-foot-7 senior, netted 11 points and swatted away six shots in the state final. His presence in the paint also freed up junior guard Nick McKenna, who scored 15 second-half points. Merry averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks per game in the Falcons’ first 20-win season and first state title victory.

    Unsung Hero: McKenna was sidelined last season after undergoing knee surgery, and missed a few games this season with a shoulder injury, but he was stellar down the stretch.

    Coach John Walsh: “Coming out of the Northeastern Conference prepares us for games, and in my opinion it’s one of the best leagues in the state,’’ said Walsh. “When you go down 36-31, you don’t panic because we’ve seen it before. So our kids persevered . . . and all their hard work paid off.’’

    The Future: The Falcons lose Merry, but return an incredibly strong core that includes McKenna and point guard Eric Martin. McKenna “is a great player and he’s only peaking too,’’ said Walsh.

    “People are only seeing the beginning because he missed a whole year last year.’’