Royals Knock ME Girls Basketball Out of Tourney


The third time wasn’t necessarily the charm for the Hornets.

This one was the biggest matchup of the season between the Manchester Essex and Georgetown girls’ basketball teams: the winner of the March 1 meeting between Cape Ann League foes in the MIAA Div. 4 Tournament would move on to the Sweet 16, the loser would be calling it a season for 2023-24.

And while the Hornets were able to avenge a January loss to the Royals with a 40-38 road win in the rematch on Feb. 8, Georgetown returned the favor on Friday night, beating Manchester Essex in a 50-40 loss in the Round of 32 that ended the local team’s postseason run.

“It was a close game, back and forth throughout until the end,” explains Manchester Essex girls basketball coach Lauren DuBois.  “Both teams played great defense in the first half and we both held each other scoreless for long stretches.  We were ahead by three going into the fourth quarter but struggled to get much going offensively in the final frame and Georgetown hit their stride at that time.”

Lily Oliver led the Hornets with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Tess Carpenter scored 11 and Harper Brooks scored five points to go with 10 rebounds.  Phileine de Widt, Mechi O’Neil (eight rebounds, four points), Isabelle Donnellan Valade and Ella Arnsten all factored into scoring and played well in a game against a familiar opponent.

“We had two close games with them earlier in the season so we knew we could play with them despite the rankings,” says DuBois (Georgetown was ranked 15th in Div.4; ME was 18th).  “We knew they are a very good team and we had to play our best basketball.  We were happy to get another shot at beating them and gave it our all.”

Giving it their all was more than enough for the Hornets in the Preliminary Round, with the team getting every player on the roster out onto the court during a 64-19 romp over Madison Park Tech on Feb. 28.

“It was a great team victory,” explains DuBois.  “All 15 players on our roster contributed. Our players did a great job executing the game plan from the start and creating offensive opportunities out of our defense.  We attacked the basket in transition and were hitting our shots from the perimeter.” Brooks (16 points) and Kacey O’Connell (13 points) were the top scorers for Manchester Essex, while Carpenter scored seven and Oliver and Tori Moulton scored six apiece. O’Neal, de Widt, Donnellan Valade, Arnsten, Gabbi D’Andrea, Emerald Jakes and Penelope Riggs all got in on the scoring action as well.

“It was a total team effort,” says DuBois.  “Everyone had active hands-on defense and anticipated well to create steals and get transition opportunities.  We moved the ball very well and worked it in to the post in the second half.”

Now that it’s over, it’s worth looking back and celebrating some of the key accomplishments in a season to remember:  the girls’ basketball team collected 16 wins in total this season, including a five-game win streak to close out the regular season that featured victories over Newburyport and Danvers.

“We had many highlights and a few frustrating losses,” explains DuBois.  “Big wins over CAL large opponents Triton, North Reading and Newburyport were definitely highlights. Being able to beat Hamilton-Wenham and Ipswich twice is always a big accomplishment. We also did very well against non-league opponents.” The Hornets lose four key players to graduation in June -- Mackay Brooks, D’Andrea, de Widt, and O’Neil.  While they will be missed, the good news is that the team will return a number of players who were instrumental in putting together a winning season including Ella Arntsen, Carpenter, Donnellan Valade, Brooks, Oliver, Jakes, Riggs, Moulton, Charlotte Donnellan Valade, Anna Gardner and Penelope Riggs.

“I am really happy with our season and proud of what we accomplished,” says DuBois.  “This team had a lot of fight and a lot of heart.  I will miss our seniors very much.  They are great players and great people, but I am excited for next season too.”