DANVERS, Mass. -- Revere High head coach Diana DeCristoforo knew that sooner or later, her undefeated team would have to be involved in a tight contest. She also had a pretty good idea it would come against the leaders from the South Division of the Northeastern Conference.
The Patriots have racked up eight wins of 20 points or more this season, but needed to grind out a tough 50-46 road win over Danvers (10-3) on Thursday night to run their record to 13-0 and keep a strangehold of the North Division of the NEC.
“It was a great win for us,” said DeCristoforo, whose team is now 11-0 in conference play. “A close game like this is great to see, because most of the games we have had have been over 20 points. This is all in preparation for the tournament at the end, and it’s good for the kids to be in a great game every once in a while.”
The Patriots didn’t make it easy on themselves, as they went 2-for-22 from behind the arc and watched Falcons star Kellie MacDonald go for 26 points and 11 rebounds.
However, DeCristoforo's club did enough of the little things to remain among the unbeaten. The saving grace for the Patriots was a 48-22 advantage on the glass -- including 21 on the offensive end -- a 14-for-18 night from free throw line and a pesky defense that made key stops when the Patriots needed them most.
Morgan Jenkins hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Patriots a 49-46 advantage with 21 seconds remaining in the game. The Falcons' Allison Tivnan gobbled the rebound on the second attempt, but her momentum took her out of bounds. The Patriots missed the freebie to push the lead to four, giving the Falcons life.
Macdonald seemed to get enough daylight for a game-tying 3-pointer, but Jenkins was able to recover and get a hand on the ball to swat it out of bounds. The Falcons kept possession with 10.6 seconds on the clock. Jenkins did her best to deny MacDonald a good look at the basket and Sarah Palazola was forced to put up a contested three-pointer that fell well off the mark. Gena Restiano grabbed the rebound and sunk her first free throw to ice the game.
“That last block was very important for the game, because she could have possibly scored a 3-point shot,” said Jenkins, who finished with 12 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks. “I just had to keep my head up and forget what she did in the past.”
The Falcons held 42-36 lead with just over five minutes to go in the game, but a timely three-pointer from Restiano and a frantic full-court press forced Danvers into bad passes and bad turnovers off inbounds plays.
“That’s one of the things we have been trying to fix,” said Pat Veilleux, who watched his team give up a bucket on an inbounds play and also cough up the ensuing inbounds pass for an easy lay-in by Restiano for a 46-44 deficit. ““It drives us nuts, but I have nothing bad to say about the way they played.”