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Sunday, December 29, 2013
Comm. Classic: No. 7 Westford 49, No. 6 Central 42

By Mike Abelson

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- It was a game of runs and in the end it was Westford's 7-2 run over the final four minutes that sealed the Grey Ghosts 49-42 win over Central Catholic and win the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic at Merrimack College. It was Westford's first ever appearance in the tournament.

“They basically kicked our ass for three years and it's nice to finally beat them,” Westford coach Russ Coward said. “I'm thrilled that we played tough today, we played composed. We're just really happy we came away with the win today.”

No one was more composed than the duo Hannah Hackley and Samantha Hyslip. Westford's frontcourt tandem combined to score 25 points and pull down eight rebounds for the Grey Ghosts.

Hackley led all scorers with 13 points. Hyslip hit both of Westford's three-pointers.

“I think she played to her ability and even a little bit more,” Coward said of Hackley. “That's kind of what we've been hoping for her for a long time. I couldn't be happier right now.

“Sam's been working on her outside shot. They are both very good players down low. I think the two are finally starting to believe what we've told them: you're two of the better players in the state. You should start playing like them. They played great today.”

Westford's defense forced Central to shoot from the outside and the Raiders failed to convert on most of the looks Westford gave them. The Raiders shot six percent (1-17) from three-point range.

“Obviously I think that certain players of ours had trouble tonight,” Central coach Sue Downer said. “I think one of the things we are is a balanced team. We have the potential to have four, five, players score in double figures, and that's how we have to attack every game. That just didn't happen tonight.”

Courtney Walsh led the Raiders with 12 points while fellow captain Amanda Williams chipped in seven of her own. Caitlin Dell'Orfano had a sneaky good game, pumping in eight points while also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.

After falling behind 16-5 in the final minute of the first quarter Central battled back to take a 23-22 lead into halftime. Westford tied the game at 29 four minutes into the second half and put some distance between themselves and Central with a 9-4 run to open up a five-point lead.

Central closed the gap down to less than three twice more before the Ghosts ended the game from the free throw line.

SENNOTT SISTERS SHINE IN THE GRIME
At a glance, twin sisters Cathryn and Rebecca Sennott didn't make much of an impression on the score sheet. Rebecca had six points and Cathryn had only a bucket in the first quarter. However, it was the Sennotts' ability to win in the ruck and muck of the paint that made them invaluable in Westford's win.

“When we need steals when we need tough defense [they do it],” Coward said. “Cathryn guarded three people. Rebecca played great, composed. This is what happens when you have four kids that have been playing on the team since they've been freshmen.”

The sisters combined for nine rebounds and Cathryn picked three steals.

“They're amazing; they're tenacious on defense,” Hackley said.

While the points were few they were big. Rebecca scored five of her six in the final quarter, including two free throws that helped seal the win.