Tyngsboro Gets a Shot at Hoop Title with Blowout Win
WORCESTER -- For the first time since 2015, the Tyngsboro High girls basketball team will play for a sectional championship title.
Friday afternoon the No. 4 seed Tigers played tremendous defense in the first half giving up just three points, and went on to knock off No. 1 seed Millbury, 36-23, in a Division 3 Central semifinal game played at WPI.
The win moves Tyngsboro (19-4) into Saturday’s sectional final against No. 2 Sutton (21-1) back at Worcester Polytech (1:30 p.m.). Sutton is a familiar foe for the Tigers.
“They have knocked us out the last two years in the early rounds so it’ll be nice to see them here in the final,” said Tyngsboro coach Dan Sargent, who will be making his third appearance in a sectional title game, losing to Bellingham in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
“They are going to be good and they are going to be tough. Obviously, it’s a quick turnaround for us but we’ll be ready to battle. It’s nice to get back to the final as we have had some early exits. These kids have been working hard. I’m proud of them and they have earned it. We took care of business today so hopefully we can again (on Saturday).”
Tyngsboro jumped out to a 10-1 lead after the first quarter and upped that lead to 19-3 at half, including not giving up a field goal over those 16 minutes.
“We talk about playing defense as taking away what the other team wants to do and we had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to do,” said Sargent. “We have had some days to practice with the weather and everything and our scout team did a great job of preparing us for this game. Our kids really paid attention and focused on taking away what they want to do and it translated into a strong first half.”
Millbury (20-2) came into the game riding a 16-game winning streak, with their last loss to Division 1 power Leominster. The Woolies were down 23-3 before connecting on their first field goal with 4:43 left in the third. That jumped-started their offense as that was the start of a 14-2 run to cut the deficit to eight points with 5:20 left in the game.
Ahead by eight, Tyngsboro was able to hang on down the stretch, thanks in part to Amanda Leal, who scored six of her game high 17 points, all from the free throw line. She also added 5 rebounds and 3 defensive steals.
“We have been working hard for this all season,” said Leal, a senior captain. “Coach Sargent has prepared us really well. We have played tough teams all season and have been competing. We have had our ups and downs but I’m glad we were able to execute today, get the job done. We played tough, we were intense and we’re ready for (Sutton).”
Leal led the way with her 17 points, followed by Katherine Hurynowicz with 10 and Sara Anselmo with 8 as the trio combined to score all but one of the team’s points. Early on, Anselmo and Leal connected for three-pointers putting the Tigers out to a quick 6-0 start.
“We came out more intense in the first half,” said Leal. “They were playing a (2-1-2) zone and we were ready for that. When they switched up we got off track a little bit, but we were able to come back, collect ourselves and get the job done.”
Sargent added that he expected this type of all-around performance from Leal.
“Amanda is a senior captain and this time of the year you want your seniors to step up and she doesn’t want her career to end,” he said. “She has been impressive. She got to the free throw line a bunch, knocked them down and she also played great defense. She is awesome.”