Westford Academy girls’ basketball coach Russ Coward knew that there was no such thing as a comfortable lead against Billerica. So his team was prepared when the Indians made their second-half push, and his Grey Ghosts, powered by Samantha Hyslip (20 points, 18 rebounds) were able to hold on for a 53-49 win on Thursday night at Whittier Tech in Haverhill.
The third-seeded Grey Ghosts (20-4) advanced to the Division 1 North final Saturday and a game with Central Catholic at Tsongas Center.
“We knew Billerica was going to make a run, we talked about it the whole time,’’ said Coward. “Honestly, we’d figured they make the run in the beginning because they’re such a better team [than us].”
However, it was Westford that started strong, running off to a 22-9 lead. By halftime, the lead was 8 at 30-22.
After the break, Billerica came storming back behind Shannon Hayes’s 9 third-quarter points. The second-seeded Indians (20-3) took a 37-36 lead when Brittany Lomanno, who finished with 11 points in her last high school game, sank two free throws.
But Westford stopped the Indians’ run, ending the quarter on a 4-0 run.
Hyslip scored 8 points in the fourth, but again Billerica came back, cutting the lead to 1 at 50-49 with 44 seconds remaining on two free throws by Joslyn King.
Westford got two free throws from Meghan Kibblehouse and was able to hold on from there.
Coward said he scheduled tough games during the season so that his squad would be prepared for tough tournament games like this one.
“There’s a reason why we played the schedule we did,” Coward said. “We lost a bunch of games early, but we got a nice winning streak going and I think that’s a result of taking our lumps early on the road and gaining confidence, and I think that’s going to pay off on Saturday.”
Division 2 North
Reading 63, Wilmington 51 — Olivia Healy scored 36 points as the Rockets won their 47th consecutive game and advanced to the sectional championship game. Alexandra Derian hit four of the Wildcats’ eight 3-pointers and finished with 14 points.
Division 1 North
Winchester 4, Waltham 2 — Junior Nolan Redler had two goals and two assists and junior Brendan Greene added a goal and two assists to power the Sachems (16-5-3).
Super 8 postponed a day
The Super 8 hockey games at Stoneham Arena — Springfield Cathedral vs. Malden Catholic and St. John’s Prep vs. Central Catholic — were postponed because of inclement weather. The games will be played Friday in Stoneham. Springfield Cathedral and Malden Catholic will play at 5:30 p.m., and St. John’s Prep vs. Central Catholic at 8 p.m.
In the South, all semifinal hockey games scheduled for Gallo Arena in Bourne were postponed and will be played Sunday.