Ed. Note — This story will appear in the Wednesday edition of The Eagle Tribune
NORTH ANDOVER — The Merrimack women’s basketball team knew before the ball tipped on Tuesday night that, win or lose, they would finish fifth in the Northeast 10, and be on the road in the first round of the NE10 Tournament on Friday night.
But that didn’t stop the Warriors from ending the season on a high note, beating Saint Michael’s 69-64 to close out the regular season with a 15-11 record. The Warriors will travel to Adelphi in the opening round of the playoffs later this week.
“We lost to these guys last time,” said senior captain Cecilia Reyes, a Lawrence native who made her first career start. “We were really focused on locking in a win and having a good feeling going into playoffs.”
The Warriors had four players in double figures, including Mayson Kimball (16 points), Karlee Alves (15 points), Alyssa Casey (14 points) and Denia Davis-Stewart (13 points).
Alves also led the Warriors with three steals (they had 7 in the game).
“Our focus is always on defense,” Reyes said. “We want to get as many triples as possible, and that’s what we call three defensive stops in a row. That’s our focus, and then we can turn that into offense.
“We always have a big emphasis on defensive stops, celebrating them and also making sure we’re rebounding well. Defense, defense, defense. That’s how we’re going to be successful.”
Merrimack was picked to finish sixth in the division in the league’s coaches poll earlier this season. The Warriors will be the underdogs again on Friday night when they travel to Long Island, New York to take on Adelphi.
“We love being the underdog,” Reyes said. “We have been proving people wrong every day.
“It’s the redemption tour. St. Michael’s beat us earlier this year and we really wanted to get that win back today. Last time against Adelphi we had a lead and they came back to win it at the end. But we’re a different team than we were then. We’re more disciplined and we’re hungry. We’re ready for redemption again.”
While the Warriors would certainly prefer to play in the friendly confines of their own court, going on the road and spending the night on Long Island isn’t necessarily a negative.
When the Warriors leave on Thursday, it becomes a business trip, Reyes said.
“I’d almost rather be on the road,” she said. “We’ve been the underdogs all year. I think teams are more focused on the road. We’ll practice there and there are just less distractions. You’re in the hotel, everything is about basketball. It’s a business trip and we’re excited for it.”