THE WARRIOR starting five, senior captain Mia Forti (10), sophomore Brooklyn Calder (24), sophomore Shea Suntken (3), senior captain Emma Shinney (5) and junior captain Emma Quinn (21) get introduced to the crowd before their Div. 2 state quarterfinal game against Dracut on Friday night. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)


WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield High girls’ basketball team’s historic season came to an end on Friday night in the Div. 2 state quarterfinal round as the Warriors were edged by visiting Dracut, 43-38.

In a classic, playoff, tug-of-war, the Warriors faced a 16-5 deficit midway through the 2nd quarter but went on a 12-0 run to reclaim the lead and held a 19-18 advantage at the break.

Wakefield led 33-22 early in the fourth before the Middies drained four 3-pointers in the 4th on their way to a wild comeback. Dracut, trailing 38-33 with 3 minutes left, went on a 10-0 run to end the game, bringing Wakefield’s season to an end with an overall record of 20-3.

“That was a tough game in a great atmosphere,” said Wakefield head coach Jason Pavey. “The team is really appreciative of all the people who showed up and supported us in the playoffs.”

SAVANNAH CUMMINGS (10 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk) kept Wakefield in the game in the first half and played well on both ends of the court against Dracut in a quarterfinal matchup at the Charbonneau Field House. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Playing in their third home game of the tournament following wins over Grafton and Whitman-Hanson, Wakefield’s biggest adjustment may have been to a well-traveled Dracut fan base including a student section that did their best to rival the Red Sea all deked in green for a St. Patrick’s Day theme.

Playing with pace, Dracut’s hectic style forced plenty of turnovers and led to a 10-3 advantage after one.

Looking for a spark, Wakefield got it from forward Savannah Cummings (10 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk) off the bench. The junior battled on both ends of the floor, especially on the glass, her put-back early in the 2nd quarter cutting the deficit to 10-5. Dracut’s point guard Ashlee Talbot (17 pts) continued to get to the hoop as the Middies extended their lead to 16-5 with 5:30 to play in the half.

With the offense struggling and one of their best scorers in junior captain Emma Quinn (5 pts, 3 reb) in foul trouble, the Warriors showed what they were made of, going on a 12-0 run to reclaim the lead behind 4 points from Cummings and 6 from sophomore Brooklyn Calder (10 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast). Calder started the run with a strong drive and the Warriors went back to work on the defensive end with sophomore Shea Suntken (5 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl) diving on the floor to reclaim a loose ball and senior captain Emma Shinney (5 pts, 9 reb, 3 stl, 5 ast) locking down Talbot. Cummings hit a 3 from the top of the key to make it 16-12 and later continued to dominate the game with another offensive rebound that led to free throws and a block on the other end which got the fans going. A steal and 2 from Calder off an in-bounds pass made it 16-15 and forced a timeout with the Middies as shocked as the Warriors had been earlier in the game.

“I thought our kids were resilient,” said Pavey. “It felt like a boxing match with each team trading punches. I was proud of how we kept getting up. Both teams just played so hard.”

SHEA SUNTKEN (5 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl) puts up a 3-pointer in front of the “Green Sea” on Friday night in state tournament action. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

After a block by freshman Emma Ickes, Shinney found Calder on the run for a layup before the buzzer sounded to make it 19-18 Wakefield.

The Warriors won the 3rd by a count of 12-4, playing one of their best quarters of the season, led by 5 points from Quinn whose return helped the offense find their groove. An early Calder corner 3 from Shinney made it 22-20 and Quinn later scored 5 in a row with a tough drive and a tripe of her own for a 27-22 lead.

Meanwhile, Wakefield’s defense locked in with Shinney and Suntken pressuring ball handlers while Calder, Cummings and senior captain Mia Forti (3 pts, 8 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk) rotated well, protected the rim and rebounded. A Cummings and-one and a Shinney layup ended the 3rd with Wakefield up 31-22.

The Warriors, whose elite defense surrendered about 30 points per game this season, hadn’t allowed more than 42 points in a game. After holding Grafton to 26 and Whitman-Hanson to 32 in the postseason, Wakefield appeared as though they were in position to do it again. Of course, the Warriors knew that Dracut had the type of shooting that would make them a tough opponent. The Middies proved it with their 21-point 4th, including three 3’s from Emma Felker and one from Talbot.

BROOKLYN CALDER (10 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast) hands off to Emma Quinn (5 pts, 3 reb) in Wakefield’s state tournament game against Dracut on Friday night. Calder had 6 points to spark Wakefield’s 12-0 run in the 2nd quarter and Quinn appeared to give the Warriors the lead with 25 seconds left but was called for a controversial charge. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

“I thought going into the game it would be a contrast of styles,” said Pavey. “Dracut is a highly skilled team; especially offensively. We’ve tried to hang our hat on the defensive end. If you told me that we’d hold them to 43 points I would’ve liked our chances.

“We missed some high percentage shots we typically make. Against a really good team like Dracut, you only get so many bites at the apple. Sometimes it’s as simple as which team made more shots.”

Dracut’s 4th-quarter shot-making included two quick triples from Felker which immediately put the pressure on as the Wakefield lead was now 33-28.

With both teams fighting, Talbot’s 3 made it 35-33 but Wakefield came right back as Forti drilled a clutch triple in front of the Green Sea for a 38-33 advantage with 3 minutes left.

Dracut free throws cut the lead to 38-36 and with 1:30 left, Talbot found Felker wide open in the corner for a huge 3 that gave the Middies a 39-38 lead.

As Wakefield struggled to finish in their last few possessions, the biggest call of the game arrived.

EMMA SHINNEY (5 pts, 9 reb, 3 stl, 5 ast) zips a pass to Mia Forti for a corner 3 late in Wakefield’s state tournament game against Dracut on Friday night. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

With Dracut attempting to bleed some clock, an errant pass was recovered by Quinn at mid-court. With Talbot trying to recover, Quinn was called for a charge as the two collided on a layup. Quinn’s shot went in meaning even a no-call would have given Wakefield a one-point lead with 25 seconds left. A blocking foul would have sent Quinn to the line for one more. Instead, the controversial call led to chaos in the gym. Talbot got the in-bounds and hit her free throws for a 3-point lead. A good look from deep by Calder just rimmed out with time winding down and the Middies hit two more from the line to ice a tough loss for the home team.

“Overall, it’s impossible to not consider this season a success,” said Pavey. “Twenty wins, back to back league titles, that’s an amazing season. We set a pretty lofty goal of trying to compete for a state title. I think we did that. Only one team is going to end the season happy and I really thought it was going to be us and so did the kids.

“It was really tough to go in that room after the game. It was such a fun season and selfishly I’m just upset it had to end. That team played so hard and worked so well together. Our seniors, Emma (Shinney) and Mia (Forti) they’re the best. Eventually, we’ll be able to zoom out and appreciate the season. Wakefield is a basketball town and to say you were a part of one of the best teams in the last 25-30 years is a pretty amazing accomplishment.”