The Winthrop High School girls basketball team made sure the last game played at the Holland Gymnasium would be a memorable one, racing past North Reading, 48-27, in a Division 3 North quarterfinal round game Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Nina Bartlette had 16 points while senior Theresa Jones and junior Kristen Siscamanis each scored nine points to power the Lady Vikings’ attack in the final game at the gymnasium which will make way for a brand new middle/high school on the site.
The 6-foot-1-inch Bartlette enjoyed one of the best offensive games of her sky-is-the-limit varsity career, but it was her defensive presence in the paint, coupled with the assistance of Siscamanis, that kept North Reading’s 6-feet-5-inch sophomore Jessica Lezon away from the basket and second-chance hoops.
Meanwhile, Winthrop junior point guard Niki Tsiotos (6 points) was devastating in the backcourt, creating problems all game for the North Reading guard tandem. Included in Tsiotos’s defensive masterpiece were two clean blocks of NR breakaway layups.
Bartlette took early command in the lane with three first-quarter baskets. Siscamanis heated up quickly with eight first-quarter points, while Jones set the tone from outside with a three-pointer, helping the hosts build an 18-8 lead after one period.
Senior guard Ashelyne Babb (4 points) extended Winthrop’s lead to 20-10 with two free throws. Tsiotos and Company then held North Reading to a season-low two points in the second quarter while taking a 27-12 lead at the half.
Winthrop, with help off the bench from senior Jenn Adamson (4 points), pulled away to an impressive win over a strong Cape Ann League contingent.
The only question in the fourth quarter to be addressed was: Who would score the final point in the gym’s existence? That distinction belonged to junior Poli Tsiotos on a free throw, perhaps a fitting honor for a family that has been so synonymous with excellence in Winthrop’s basketball history.
Head coach Ignacio Oyola and staff had their team ready for its postseason debut. He was pleased with the overall performance.
“Just an excellent team effort,” said Oyola. “First and foremost we wanted to make sure we rebounded with North Reading’s size and to make sure we get the ball downcourt in transition and draw some fouls.”
Bartlette drew high marks from the head coach. “Nina did a great job on their center. Kristen also helped out and we played a zone sometimes. But Nina did an sterling job of bodying her, fronting her, and playing behind her. We changed it up and our defense did a great job.”
The Vikings were undefeated (9-0) at home this season, truly saving their best for the last-ever game.
“We were happy to get the last victory on this floor,” said Oyola.
Winthrop (20-3) was scheduled to play Manchester Wednesday night at St. John’s Prep. The winner of that game will play St. Mary’s of Lynn in the North Sectional championship game Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.