Girls basketball: Northampton downs Nashoba to reach state Division 2 finals

  • Northampton seniors Kolbie Jones, center right, and Olivia Kesin (3) embrace as the Blue Devils celebrate their 56-43 win over Nashoba in the state Division 2 semifinal at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior guard Jilllian McGrath, left, sends a pass over Abigail McNulty of Nashoba in the first half of the Blue Devils' state Division 2 semifinal win at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton senior center Kolbie Jones, right, defends Alexis Richard of Nashoba in the first half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton players, standing from left, Lulu Kesin, Ella Moreau, Alaina Smith, Ella Pelis and Allison Flynn cheer a 3-point shot by freshman guard Riley Allen during the Blue Devils’ state Division 2 semifinal win in Springfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton head coach Perry Messer huddles with his players before the fourth period of the Blue Devils' 56-43 win over Nashoba in the state Division 2 semifinal at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior guard Amanda Mieczkowski, left, is halted by Nashoba defenders Julia Roth, center, and Abigail McNulty in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 win over the Chieftains on Wednesday in Springfield. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior forward Sydney Lewandowski, left, shoots over Brienne Donahue of Nashoba in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 win over the Chieftains in the state Division 2 semifinal at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior forward Caroline Tanner, center left, chases down a loose ball with Nashoba’s Alexis Richard, below, and Jillian Payne, right, in the second half. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior guard Amanda Mieczkowski evades a press by Alexis Richard, left, and Julia Roth of Nashoba in the second half of the Blue Devils’ 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win in Springfield on Wednesday. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton head coach Perry Messer signals to his players on offense in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 win over Nashoba in the state Division 2 semifinal at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior forward Caroline Tanner, left, chases down a loose ball with Nashoba’s Alexis Richard, below, and Jillian Payne in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton junior guard Jillian McGrath (4) reaches for a rebound in front of Alexis Richard (5) of Nashoba in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton senior center Kolbie Jones, right, sets to shoot under pressure from Alexis Richard of Nashoba in the second half of the Blue Devils’ 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win over the Chieftains in Springfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Northampton senior center Kolbie Jones, center, forces a jump ball with Brienne Donahue of Nashoba in the second half of the Blue Devils' 56-43 state Division 2 semifinal win at American International College in Springfield on Wednesday. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 3/13/2019 9:26:16 PM

SPRINGFIELD — The Northampton girls basketball team is back in the state final.

Amanda Mieczkowski scored a game-high 21 points as the Blue Devils beat Nashoba, 56-43, in the state Division 2 semifinal, Wednesday at American International College.

Mieczkowski lit up the first half with 10 points on three 3-pointers as the Blue Devils took a 23-12 lead at the break.

“I felt really different going into tonight, a different mindset,” Mieczkowski said. “I didn’t really feel dominant, I feel like everybody really stepped up tonight and executed our plays more than last game. I think just playing off my teammates was really a pump up for me.”

Northampton (19-4) will face North sectional champion Pentucket (23-3), Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester. Northampton won the state title in 2008, the last time it reached that game.

Pentucket beat South champ Pembroke, 53-38, in the other semifinal.

Northampton’s offense also utilized Kolbie Jones in the middle after employing the tactic in the Western Massachusetts final on Saturday.

Jones “got a little confidence after the last game through the top of the key and Amanda saw her for some open looks,” Blue Devils coach Perry Messer said. “Sydney (Lewandowski) had a tremendous game offensively for us tonight. She made a lot of key offensive boards and putbacks and it made a big difference.”

Jones finished with nine points, while Lewandowski added six points.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable at driving now, especially over the last few games,” Jones said. “I think in this game I was looking for that because I knew that it was working in the past and during game footage we could see that the middle was open after we’d pass it so just having success in the past helped for this game too.”

Caroline Tanner, who missed most of the regular season with a back injury but returned for the playoffs, also had nine points. Jones and Tanner combined for nine of the team’s 15 second-quarter points.

“She’s so athletic,” Messer said of Tanner. “Having that long defender, she’s done a great job and she started getting a little more comfortable every game, so it’s kind of nice having that.”

Riley Allen contributed with a 3-pointer in the third quarter for Northampton.

“As a freshman, she’s fearless,” Messer said. “When I put her in the game she’s going to compete. She’s not always going to make the right plays because she’s still a freshman, but she’s not afraid of the moment and she’s going to take shots that are good shots. Even the one she missed, Caroline cleaned up the rebound and put it back, and that was a big play.”

Northampton wasn’t just putting on a show offensively. The Blue Devils made many defensive stops to make the shot clock run out on the Chieftains.

“We talk on D, we’re ready to switch lanes and execute and get the hands up in the face,” Messer said. “If they’re going to make shots, they’re going to have to make them contested. We played tremendous defense, especially that first half. Holding a good shooting team like that to 12 points, we frustrated them a bit. We played just enough in the second half to keep it going and we attacked the basket a lot better today.”

The Blue Devils lead 36-22 entering the fourth quarter. There were many fouls called on the Chieftains and Northampton took advantage to extend its lead. The Blue Devils went 11-for-18 from the line in the fourth.

“We had our lead so I knew they were going to press us,” Messer said. “I called a couple timeouts because I wasn’t happy with our press break. I thought we executed again nicely. We switched to give Amanda the ball in her hands and make decisions and they were down at a point where they had to foul and we made shots on the foul line for the most part.”

Northampton 56, Nashoba 43

Northampton (19-4)

Sledzieski 0-0-0, Kesin 0-0-0, McGrath 2-4-8, Mieczkowski 5-7-21, Allen 1-0-3, Tanner 3-3-9, Jones 4-1-9, Lewandowski 3-0-6. Totals: 18-15-56

Nashoba (20-4)

McMahon 4-2-11, Richard 3-2-8, McNulty 6-0-12, Payne 1-0-2, Roth 2-0-4, Donahue 3-0-6. Totals: 19-4-43

Northampton

8

15

13

20

—56

Nashoba

8

4

10

21

—43

3-Pointers—Northampton 4 (Mieczkowski 4) Nashoba 1 (McMahon)




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