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Tewksbury Girls Upset Central, 52-48

Jan 06, 2015 11:41PM ● By Rick Spencer

Tewksbury's Emily Velozo (10) scored 16 points as Tewksbury upset Central 52-48.

For Tewksbury High girls basketball coach Mark Bradley, there have been lots of pleasant surprises during his seven years as the TMHS head coach and over the 15 years he has been involved in the program.

But Tewksbury’s 52-48, come-from-behind upset of perennial Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 powerhouse Central Catholic High School on Tuesday night might just rank up there as the best ever in Bradley’s mind.

“Every year it seems like there’s a big win somewhere along the line, but this one, this one was special.” said Bradley after watching his team overcome a five-point fourth quarter deficit and record its first win over Central in at least two decades.  “I don’t want to take anything away from the big wins that we had last year and the year before, but this one feels really good. To beat Central Catholic like that? I’d say that’s the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been around this program.”

Senior forward Shannon Smith and junior guard Emily Velozo were once again the top offensive producers for Tewksbury with 16 points each, but as was the case in Sunday’s impressive win over Lawrence, the TMHS supporting cast played critical roles again on Tuesday, as junior forward Karalyn Gallella contributed eight big points, senior guard Amanda Brown and sophomore forward Kirsten Dick added five each and junior guard Haley Pozzuto had two. Junior forward Molly Robertson had another strong game rebounding and playing defense.

“We’re nine or 10 deep right now,” Bradley said. “The girls look to their left, they look to their right, and they know they can rely on each other. Our scrappiness is starting to pay off, and we’re starting to execute offensively. I’m proud of what this team is starting to become.”

Things started clicking early on against Central as Smith scored seven points and Gallella added four to stake TMHS to a 13-9 first quarter lead. Velozo tossed in eight points and Smith added five more in the second period and the Redmen led, 28-19 at the half.

But Central stormed back with a defensive vengeance in the third quarter, holding Tewksbury to just seven points and taking over the lead, 37-35, after three quarters. The host Raiders increased their advantage to five points over the first two minutes of the final period, but that’s when Team Tewksbury took over.

First Dick contributed a big three-point play, then  Gallella hit a pair of big free throws, then Velozo added a three-point play and then Smith contributed two decisive baskets in the final minutes, and the 2014-15 Redmen had done what few, if any, other TMHS girls basketball teams have ever done.

“I’m sort of in awe right now. It’s nice,” Bradley said.  “I’m so proud of how these girls have come together and what they’re starting to turn out to be. We’re starting to finish our shots, we’re starting to run some productive sets, working the clock and playing basketball. We’re limiting what teams do. We’re not letting them dictate. We’re keeping them off guard. We’re really coming together. I told the girls I’m so proud of them and they should be proud of themselves.”

The win was the fourth straight for Tewksbury, and it improves the team's record to 5-3 overall, 3-2 in the MVC, with another big league game coming up against Dracut on Friday. There are also 12 more games left on the schedule with some real tough opponents among them, so Bradley isn’t ready to start talking about league titles or state tournament runs just yet.

“I tell you who we are,” Bradley said. “We’re a team that’s scrappy and we get after it on offense. Other than that I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring. I just told them to enjoy this one.

”If we can keep on building on our momentum and learning from our mistakes, we’ll do all right,” he added. “Were just going to try to go out every day and get better.”


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