Chieftains Heading to Title Game
WORCESTER -- Over the years, the Nashoba Regional girls’ basketball team has made a habit of making deep runs in the state tournament and playing for a championship.
This year will be no different. The Chieftains are headed back to the finals.
Sparked by a stifling defense and hot shooting from Caylie McMahon and Jillian Payne, the top-seeded Chieftains punched their ticket into the Central Mass. Division 2 finals by posting a dominating 54-33 victory over fourth-seeded St. Peter-Marian at Clark University’s Kneller Athletic Center.
“We like that underdog mentality,” said Nashoba head coach Tina Seabury, whose team ran its record to 19-3. “Being the number one seed, there is a little bit of pressure on us. We still go into these games and practices with that underdog mentality. We focus on defense and playing hard all the time. If we do the fundamentals correctly then we win games.”
Nashoba was led by some outstanding outside shooting from McMahon and Payne who combined to knock down six shots from behind the arc. McMahon scored a game-high 17 points, while Payne finished the game with 11 points.
The story of this game was the defense of the top-seeded Chieftains. After getting down 2-0, Nashoba went to a full-court press that resulted in a 10-0 run.
Nashoba finished with a 16-7 lead after eight minutes of action.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same as the Chieftains turned turnovers into easy baskets. Payne connected on a pair of free throws with 3:15 left in the half to give Nashoba its first double-digit lead at 24-13.
The Chieftains took a 33-19 advantage into halftime.
“As usual, our defense allows us to get out in transition and get our offense going,” Seabury said. “We count on those transition points. When we don’t get those transition points, we struggle. It helped that the shooters started to get hot.”
In the second half, Nashoba continued to build on its lead.
The Chieftains held a 40-25 lead after three quarters and never looked back.
Junior Abby McNulty matched the number on her jersey as she chipped in with 11 points for Nashoba.