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Vikes back in playoffs

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jordyn Babin brings her family senior night flowers. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic girls' basketball team hosted Hinsdale on Thursday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 19, 2018 4:59PM

The Mascenic girls’ basketball team is back in the NHIAA tournament for the first time in five years after concluding the regular season with a winning 10-8 record.

“I don’t even know if we won a game my freshman year,” said senior Sydney Letters after Thursday night’s season finale against Hinsdale. “It was insane … This team is completely different, we have a completely different mentality, and it makes the game that much better and more enjoyable, because we’re actually competitive in these games.”

Indeed, Mascenic was winless in Letters’ freshman year, and had struggled in Division III. But last year’s move to Division IV suited the Vikings.

Mascenic looked strong out of the gate against the Pacers Thursday in a low-scoring affair that saw Hinsdale creep out to a 17-15 lead at the half. The Pacers came into the game at 15-1, second-best in Division IV behind undefeated Littleton (18-0), and out of the halftime break, they showed why.

Six-foot freshman center Angelina Nardolillo (game-high 20 points) took over in the paint, overpowering Mascenic senior forward Jordyn Babin, who put up a fight but was outmatched by Nardolillo’s height.

“It’s impossible,” said Mascenic head coach Kevin Rines of guarding Nardolillo. “It’s hard. She’s a very good player.”

If that wasn’t enough, the Pacers started firing threes with abandon, and hitting them. Hinsdale hit six threes in the second half.

“Our defense was a lot better in the first two quarters, and then we just lost track of the shooters, and they can shoot,” Rines said. “That’s by far the best shooting team we’ll see and they started it knocking it down in the second half.”

Mascenic didn’t score in the third quarter as the Pacers went on a 14-0 run. They’d outscore Mascenic 28-11 in the second half and cruise to a 45-26 victory. Shelby Babin led the Vikings with seven points; Jordyn Babin and Julianna Tucci had six each.

Mascenic finishes the regular season at 10-8, their first season with a winning record in over a decade. And, they’re in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, when Jocelyn Ojala carried the Vikings to the postseason on a torn ACL.

“I think we can refocus,” Rines said, “and take the first half that we played with one of the best teams in our division – I think that team would do very well in Division III as well – and we stayed with them and had the lead at times in that first half. We can take that and feed off that.”

Mascenic is the 12-seed and will travel to No. 5 Colebrook (15-3) Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Letters and her teammates know that lapses like Thursday night’s scoreless third quarter can’t happen if they want to keep their postseason going.

“We need to play every minute,” Letter said. “Thirty-two minutes of basketball. We can’t play 31, we can’t play 30, we have to play every single minute. We can’t give up and we need to come out strong. We can’t start slow and then try to make up everything, We need to play our game and just hustle. Don’t make any bad passes, go out there, be smart and do everything we can to score and play good defense. Hopefully we can learn from this and kick some butt in playoffs.”