The MIAA Division 1-5 girls’ basketball state finals will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Tsongas Center in Lowell. Here’s what to watch for in each matchup.
Matchup: No. 1 ANDOVER (25-0) vs. No. 2 BISHOP FEEHAN (20-4)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Coaches: Alan Hibino, 6th year (Andover); Amy Dolores, 4th year (Bishop Feehan)
Andover starting 5: G Michaela Buckley (Jr.), G Amelia Hanscom (Sr.), F Marissa Kobelski (Sr.), F Kathleen Yates (Sr.), C Anna Foley (Sr.).
Bishop Feehan starting 5: G Mary Daley (Sr.), G Charlotte Adams-Lopez (So.), G Maddy Steel (So.), F Sammy Reale (Sr.), F Julia Webster (Jr.).
Player to watch/Andover: Foley is back in the state final and better than ever. The 6-foot-3 Quinnipiac commit combines size, physicality, impressive passing, and a sneaky-threatening jumper. She’s also a monster shot blocker who anchors a dominant defense.
Player to watch/Bishop Feehan: Reale is the spark for a Shamrock offense loaded with weapons. The Babson-bound forward is a quick slasher off the dribble who attacks the rim and gets after offensive rebounds. She’s also one of many catch-and-shoot threats in the rotation.
The lowdown: These two powers met once during the season: a 46-42 Andover victory in the Comcast Classic. But the Shamrocks led by as many as 9 points, and this rematch will again test each team’s strengths. For Andover, it’s about locking down on defense and scoring inside with its size. Bishop Feehan has to move the ball around to its shooters and keep Foley guessing. This should be another thrilling chess match.
Matchup: No. 5 FOXBOROUGH (23-1) vs. No. 6 DRACUT (20-6)
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Coaches: Lisa Downs, 12th year (Foxborough); Peter Witts, 17th year – 1998-2004, 2012-present (Dracut).
Foxborough starting 5: G Kailey Sullivan (So.), G Erin Foley (Jr.), G Camryn Collins (Jr.), F Isabelle Chamberlin (Jr.), Addie Ruter (So.).
Dracut starting 5: G Ashlee Talbot (Sr.), G Lamees Alasaad (Jr.), F Brodie Gannon (Sr.), F Emma Felker (Sr.), C Amaya Alkassar (Sr.).
Player to watch/Foxborough: Collins is a force on both ends for the Warriors. She has a relentless motor and makes everyone around her better. The junior is averaging 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.4 deflections, 5.8 steals, and 5.7 assists per game.
Player to watch/Dracut: Talbot is the career scoring leader in Dracut history — girls or boys — with 1,464 points. This season, she’s averaging 21.7 points, 6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 3.2 steals per game. Talbot has a terrific first step and plays with a distinct flair.
The lowdown: The Middies have won each of their last two games by 5 points or fewer. Foxborough has won each of its tournament games by 16 or more. Dracut has faced several state finalists this season (Andover, St. Mary’s, Cathedral, and more) and has hit its stride late. “The kids learned to face adversity and fail together, which brought them closer as a team,” Witts said. “They became a family, and the chemistry between them is really starting to show for us at tournament time.” Foxborough, meanwhile, has cruised past the vast majority of its opponents. “We pride ourselves on our team defense and the pace that we prefer to play at,” Downs said. “It’s been such a pleasure to coach this team this year because of the team-first attitude they all bring to the court each day.”
Matchup: No. 1 ST. MARY’S (22-2) vs. No. 3 BISHOP FENWICK (17-7)
When: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Coaches: Jeff Newhall, 18th year (St. Mary’s); Adam DeBaggis, 12th year (Bishop Fenwick).
St. Mary’s starting 5: G Yirsy Queliz (Sr.), G Niya Morgen (Sr.), F Bella Owumi (8th.), F Kellyn Preira (Sr.), C Reese Matela (So.).
Bishop Fenwick starting 5: G Celia Neilson (Fr.), G Caitlin Boyle (Fr.), G Tess Keenan (Jr.), G Erica Lendall (Jr.), F Cecilia Kay (Jr.).
Player to watch/St. Mary’s: Queliz is in the state finals for the fourth time in four possible years (2021 had no state tournament) since joining St. Mary’s in eighth grade. The Northeastern commit keeps the Spartans playing fast and knows how to balance scoring with getting her teammates involved. Queliz’s quickness helps her on offense — and when she swoops in for steals on defense.
Player to watch/Bishop Fenwick: Kay is one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the state. The 6-foot-2-inch captain posted 19 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 blocks in the semifinals against Norwell. She’s consistently improved as a crafty interior scorer.
The lowdown: The Spartans are on fire, with Queliz and Morgen steering an offensive juggernaut that dropped 70 points against Rockland in the semifinals. But they had to grind out a championship win against the Bulldogs last year in part due to Rockland’s size advantage down low. Kay and the Crusaders could pose a similar problem, making Matela and Preira defensive X-factors. Meanwhile, Bishop Fenwick’s guards will have to hang tough against a daunting Spartan backcourt.
Matchup: No. 1 CATHEDRAL (19-3) vs. No. 3 WAHCONAH (21-3)
When: Sunday, 4 p.m.
Coaches: Clinton Lassiter, 9th year (Cathedral); Liz Kay, 9th year (Wahconah).
Cathedral starting 5: G Sara Thompson (Sr.), G Hijjah Allen-Paisley (So.), G Jasmine Day-Cox (Jr.), G Keyona Raines (Fr.), G Yedidya Lubunga (Sr.).
Wahconah starting 5: G Emma Belcher (Sr.), G Grace Wigington (Jr.), G Olivia Gamberoni (Jr.), F Sofia Drury (Sr.), F Olivia Mason (Jr.).
Players to watch/Cathedral: The Panthers don’t have one true standout, instead relying on a balanced starting five and reliable bench. Thompson and Lubunga, among others, are more than capable of scoring in double figures on a given night.
Players to watch/Wahconah: Wigington, averaging 18.2 points per game, has an impressive skill set offensively and can score effectively both inside and out. Gamberoni, averaging 17.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.2 steals, and 5.5 assists, does it all and is incredibly active on both ends.
The lowdown: The Panthers have cruised past every tournament opponent to get to this point, winning each game by 20-plus. Wahconah has won each game by 17 or mores, including a resounding, 51-point triumph in the semifinals. Cathedral is pursuing its first state title since 2020, when it shared a championship with Maynard. “They do a great job understanding there’s no ‘I’ in team, and that it takes all their efforts to have success both on and off the court,” Lassiter said. Wahconah, playing in its first title game since 2002, will look to knock off the top seed and win its first state championship. “The foundation of our team is built on the defensive end,” Kay said. “We’re incredibly active and use it to feed our offensive attack with multiple players that can make 3-point shots and also attack in the paint. Our team is incredibly cohesive and embraces adversity.”
Matchup: No. 1 MILLIS (16-8) vs. No. 2 SPRINGFIELD INTERNATIONAL (20-4)
When: Sunday, 4 p.m.
Coaches: Dave Fallon, 16th year (Millis); Tyrone Reid, 4th year (Springfield International).
Millis starting 5: G Kyra Rice (Jr.), G Olivia Hockman (Sr.), G Shealin Conroy (So.), F Hailey Bassett (Jr.), F Mia Molinari (Sr.).
Springfield International starting 5: C Alicia Mitchell (Jr.), F Alexa Davis (Jr.), F Sara Pierce (Jr.), G Iyanna Hodge (Fr.), G Jala Witherspoon (8th grade).
Player to watch/Millis: Molinari, a 5-foot-10-inch forward headed to Saint Rose, leads a balanced roster. Molinari averaged 13 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while playing most of the season in the tough Tri-Valley League. She’s a consistent double-double threat who anchors a solid defense.
Player to watch/Springfield Int’l: Mitchell is a matchup nightmare as a 6-foot-4-inch center. She’s reached at least 19 points in each of her last six games while dominating on the glass. Few D5 players have the size and strength to battle the junior 1,000-point scorer.
The lowdown: The frontcourt battle will be pivotal. Mitchell can take over a game with her size. If Molinari and Co. can make life difficult with their defense, it could rattle the Bulldogs. Millis plays at a fast pace that should benefit the smaller team, but Springfield Int’l has a couple of shooters to round out Mitchell’s interior presence.
ETHAN FULLER, TREVOR HASS
Trevor Hass can be reached at email@example.com.