By Ellen Oliver
The Nashoba girls basketball team will be playing for the school’s first State Championship after capturing the division title and plowing through the first round of the state bracket.
On Saturday afternoon at Fitchburg State University, Nashoba only needed four minutes to dethrone the current CMass D2 girls’ basketball champs, undefeated Tyngsborough, and claim the crown for themselves. After a game that went into overtime tied 50-50, the Chieftains proved the dominant team, going on a five point scoring run while holding the Tigers to two points.
After a close battle in regulation time, Erin Cressman got Nashoba started by scoring in the first 30 seconds, followed by Nicole Boucher sinking a foul shot to bring the lead to three. After a Tyngsborough shot, Boucher pawed the ball off a Tyngsborough player and Cressman threw a Hail Mary pass down court to Cecilia Burke who netted another two for the Chieftains.
With Nashoba’s five point lead and less than 30 seconds left, Tyngsboro’s Lauren Iadarola threatened by adding two points, but Kelly Poole sunk one of two foul shots to give the Chieftains some cushion. The buzzer sounded on a score of 56-52, with Nashoba the triumphant new CMass D2 champions, the first Division title in the school’s history.
“We knew we had to stay composed, we knew the pace we had to play at. These guys came out and executed. They did a great job,” said Nashoba head coach Beth McNamara. “We knew how it felt to lose and didn’t want to feel that again.”
The win was sweeter because this exact same match had a different outcome one year ago when the Tigers walked away with the Division trophy and a 66-27 victory. Earlier in this season, the two teams met and again the Tigers won with a 40 point margin. But the two losses just made the Chieftains smarter and stronger.
“We understood that we played poorly against them and we were not ready to play the first time,” said McNamara. “We needed to work hard, play at a decent pace, and we needed to limit our turnovers, which we did.”
McNamara went on to explain how the regular season loss was a “wake up call” for her team. “When we lost to Tyngsborough, I had kids who came into the gym in the morning at 6:30 to shoot baskets, that was on top of practice in the afternoon. How can you ask for a better team? How can you ask for better kids to coach?”
Cressman led the scoring for the Chieftains with 20 points. Emmalie Keenan had 11, Poole had nine, Boucher seven and Burke four.
The Chieftains faced the Hoosac Valley Hurricanes on Monday night at the DCU Center in the State semi-final round. Nashoba thumped Hoosac 52-32 and now head to the State finals on Saturday to play the Southern Mass. champion Medfield at 2:15 at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Boys Ice Hockey
The playoff path for the three seed Nashoba Chieftains ice hockey team derailed on Wednesday night at the sticks of two-seed Grafton Indians at New England Sports Center in Marlboro. Despite a rally in the second and third periods, the Chieftains couldn’t overcome a three goal deficit to capture the win.
The Chieftains entered the bout looking unstoppable. During the regular season, Nashoba and Grafton had met twice, each taking a turn as victor. Since then Nashoba solidified its game winning wide margins.
Grafton struck in the opening seconds of the first and second periods and added another in between (at 8:56 in the first) to bring the Chieftains to an early 3-0 deficit. With the lead the Indians seemed to sit back, as the Nashoba upped the intensity.
Nashoba’s two goals were thanks to freshman Brad Colvin, who reached the net at 5:31 in the second, when Nashoba capitalized on a power play opportunity, assisted by seniors Mike Charbonneau and Mike Lengieza.
Revived after getting on the board, the Chieftains struck again when Colvin zipped one past Grafton’s goal keeper Sean Pratt, after a pass from senior Jake Denaro.
Nashoba ends the season with a 14-5-3 record.