It has been more than two years since former basketball player Meghan McCarthy lost her courageous battle with cancer, but the TMHS girls basketball team proved on Tuesday night that they can still draw inspiration from their former teammate.
The Redmen punctuated their annual tribute to McCarthy with a spirited defensive effort, holding one of the top teams in the Merrimack Valley Conference under 40 points until the final 1:30 of the game before falling to Billerica High, 45-30 Tuesday night.
"The girls worked really hard tonight. Defensively it was awesome. I'm so proud of them," "We're a scrappy team. We played very scrappy on defense. I think every hustle play that was out there, Tewksbury won."
Billerica entered the game with a 10-1 overall record and a 7-0 mark in MVC play. The Indians will play (also unbeaten) Andover High Friday night in a game that will likely determine this year's MVC Division 1 championship.
"To hold a team that's competing for the MVC championship to (45) points, I think that team's maybe questioning a little bit of their stuff," Bradley said. She was about fighting. She would never complain. It was nice to see them hustle like that."
Both teams started slowly as Billerica led, 9-5 after one quarter. who led the Redmen with a season-high 11 points, kept TMHS close with a pair of first-half three-pointers.
Scrappy defensive play from senior guard Sheri Liggiero and five quick points from Doherty kept Tewksbury close throughout the third quarter. The Redmen trailed by just five points with six minutes to play in the game after sophomore guard Sara Semenza and junior guard Nicole Chaet scored back-to-back baskets.
Billerica held Tewksbury scoreless for a five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, as the Indians' height advantage finally bore fruit. Billerica's 6-0 center Joslyn King scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the final five minutes of the game, sparking a 12-0 Indian run that clinched the win for the visitors.
Chaet finished with seven points, Sara Semenza had six, freshman forward Shannon Smith added four and Shannon Semenza had two.
Bradley was particularly impressed with the hustling defensive effort turned in by Liggiero, and the shooting night Doherty produced.
"Sheri really hustled. That's what Sheri can do best," Bradley said. "I'm happy for Katie. For her to have a night like that was huge for us. Those threes kept us in it."
Tewksbury falls to 3-8 overall, 3-6 in the MVC, but has won three of its last five. The Redmen are entering an important stretch of their schedule now, with five games remaining against MIAA Division 2 opponents. A strong stretch run could put TMHS in contention for a second consecutive state tournament berth.
"We're in the second part of our season now," Bradley said. "If we can play like we did tonight and get some shots to fall, we'll be fine."
Tewksbury has a week off before hosting Chelmsford next Tuesday.
LAWRENCE ROLLS OVER BOYS TEAM, 63-24
Tewksbury High's boys basketball team traveled to Lawrence to face the No. 2 ranked Division 1 team in the state, and the final score showed why Lawrence is ranked so high.
Bobby Lumbard and Chris Crawford were Tewksbury's high scorers with five points each as the Redmen lost, 63-24.
"They're so good, and we didn't play well on top of it," "We actually had some good shots early, we just missed. And when they got out in transition we couldn't stay with them."
Kevin Dick added four points and Alex DiRocco had three while Sean Foley, Chris Fandel and James Sullivan had two each. Jaylin Sparks hit a free throw.
Tewksbury, now 5-9 overall, goes right back to work with an important Dvision 2 game at Tyngsboro Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.