LOWELL — A size advantage was the difference for the third-seeded Arlington Catholic girls’ basketball team, as it held off top-ranked Watertown, 42-35, to capture the Division 2 North title Saturday at the Tsongas Center.
“I do think our size helped us out today, absolutely,” said Cougars coach Dave Brady. “There’s a lot of size in our league, too. So the opportunity to play those kinds of teams really helped us out today.”
Backed by five players listed at 5 feet 10 inches or taller, Arlington Catholic (20-4) relied on its size to play suffocating defense from the opening tip, forcing one turnover after another. In fact, the Cougars held the Raiders without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game.
The end result: Watertown (21-2) finished with a season low in points and had its 12-game winning streak come to a close.
Arlington Catholic moves on to take on South champion Duxbury in the state semifinals Tuesday.
“We knew defense was going to win this game,” said Cougars junior guard Emma Lutz. “We didn’t really care about our offense. But when you make a big stop on defense it pumps you up on offense.
“Good defense creates offense, offense doesn’t create defense.”
To their credit, the Raiders played some great defense of their own.
Trailing by as many as 15 points, senior captain Gabriella Coppola (four steals) helped spark a couple of second-half surges for Watertown. Her steal and dish to Shannon Murphy led to a 3-point play that cut Arlington Catholic’s lead to 35-30 with 2:30 remaining.
But every time Arlington Catholic seemed to be on the verge of collapsing, Lutz (16 points) was there to carry the team, hitting a couple of big 3-pointers that ended any thought of a Watertown comeback.
“All season long, [Lutz] has been there for us,” said Brady. “I’m proud of her and all of the girls.
“It was a terrific effort out there today and we hope to keep this run going.”