WORCESTER — Springfield Central got hot early, drilling eight of 16 first-half 3-pointers, and held on late to best Westford Academy, 61-45 , in a Division 1 state semifinal at the DCU Center on Wednesday night.
The Golden Eagles (21-3) advanced to the Saturday’s state final (3:30 p.m.) at the MassMutual Center.
It was a perfect storm of adversity working against Westford (20-3). Not only did the Golden Eagles catch fire from behind the arc, but they forced 13 turnovers in the first two quarters as well.
“We knew about the pressure and it still caused us trouble,” Westford coach Russ Coward said. “Obviously, the 3’s – I don’t know if it’s bad coaching or bad luck or a combination of both.”
With the win, Springfield avenges a 63–51 loss to Westford in the 2014 semifinal.
“We played them in the semis three years ago, and when we came out we hit five 3s in a row to start the game, too. So honestly it’s karma, I guess,” Coward said laughing.
When all was said and done after the first 16 minutes of play, Central held a 36-16 advantage.
“When we’re hot it affects the whole team, so it builds momentum,” Springfield Central senior guard Ishanna Brown said.
Westford was able to cut the deficit to as few as 10 with 3:50 to play in regulation after five straight points from junior Emily Bramanti.
But Central kept its distance — literally. The Golden Eagles (21-3) often dribbled out the shot clock in their own half, only taking a stab at the basket at the last second.
“We haven’t really played a team like this all season,” Bramanti said. “They flew around the court, full-court trapping the whole game, and we really haven’t faced anyone like that all season.”
The Grey Ghosts were led by Bramanti (15 points, five rebounds) and senior Angela Alibrandi (14 points).
Brown (13 points) and sophomore Jaliena Sanchez (14 points) paced Springfield Central.
Despite falling two wins short of a state title, Bramanti is still proud of what Westford Academy was able to accomplish.
“One game just doesn’t define the season,” she said. “Really proud of how hard we worked all season. Just gotta keep working for next year.”
Springfield Central 61, Westford 45
at DCU Center, Worcester
SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (4-0) — Ishanna Brown Jones 4 2 13, Jaliena Sanchez 6 0 14, Phyness Baldwin 2 2 7, Kiana Ortiz 1 0 3, Alayah Sweeney 3 0 8, Makayla Thompson 2 2 7, Sha’raya Haines Hughes 4 0 9. Totals 22 6 61.
WESTFORD (20-3) — Camille Desrochers 3 0 9, Elizabeth Arnold 0 3 3, Emily Bramanti 5 3 15, Brooke Pillsbury 1 1 4, T. Pillsbury 0 1 1, Angela Alibrandi 5 3 13. Totals 14 11 45.
Halftime: Springfield Central, 36-16. 3-pt. goals: SC Ishanna Brown Jones 3, Jaliena Sanchez 2, Phyness Baldwin, Kiana Ortiz, Alayah Sweeney 2, Makayla Thompson, Sha’raya Haines Hughes; WA Camille Desrochers 3, Emily Bramanti 2, Brooke Pillsbury.