WORCESTER - Olivia Healy scored 16 points as Reading finished the season undefeated and claimed its first state championship with a 48-27 victory over Tyngsboro in the Division 2 final Saturday at the DCU Center.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,’’ Reading coach Kim Penney said. “It’s an emotional roller coaster and it hasn’t set in yet.’’
“It’s weird knowing it’s over, but we played until the very last day and that was our goal,’’ Healy said. “It means everything. We’re a family and to know that we got this far together, it’s unbelievable.’’
Reading went on a 13-0 run in the third quarter to open a 20-point lead and never looked back.
“That was so important. We knew they were a great 3-point shooting team so we couldn’t only be up by a few points, you have to convert,’’ Penney said. “When you get a steal you have to convert and we weren’t really doing that in the first half.’’
The game started with turnovers and missed layups for both teams. Tyngsboro opened the scoring with a layup from junior guard Amanda Hogan (7 points). Reading didn’t score until the 5:51 mark of the first when Healy made one of two free throws. Reading took the lead on a Melissa DalPozzo (13 points) basket from underneath. The Rockets led, 10-9, after the first period.
“We were a little nervous in the beginning, we needed to get a feel for the game,’’ DalPozzo said. “They came up with a good defense that we had to adjust to, but once we kind of got into our groove, we just took it and ran.’’
The Rockets stepped up their offense in the second frame, getting 11 points, 4 from DalPozzo. The Tigers racked up the fouls early, but Reading shot just 2 of 6 from the line in the opening half. But with the strength of DalPozzo and Healy in the frontcourt, Reading controlled the boards for second-chance points and limited the Tigers’ offensive opportunities.
“Our aggressive rebounding over the course of the entire season has really benefited us in big games and big times,’’ Penney said.
Tyngsboro was held to just one basket in the second, a 3-pointer off the fingertips of senior forward Helena Hamilton (12 points) midway through the period. The Rockets took a 9-point lead, 21-12, into the half.
“We’ve come out really slow for the past couple of games and we were like, ‘Let’s go in and get it done,’ and that relentlessness built us up for the second half,’’ Healy said.
The Tigers recorded the first basket of the second half with a jumper from junior forward Lauren Iadarola. The Rockets then went on a 13-0 run lasting seven minutes. Tyngsboro’s Hogan netted a three from the baseline to end that run with 30 seconds left in the third, but the Rockets led, 37-17, after three.
Tyngsboro had its best offensive quarter in the fourth, netting 10 points. But Reading’s 20-point advantage was too much to overcome.
“This is the best feeling ever,’’ DalPozzo said. “This was it, this was the big thing and we did it.’’