The Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ basketball team is moving on.
Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ basketball head coach Mike Costa is no stranger to playoff basketball.
He was an assistant coach on the W-H boys’ team when it won back-to-back Div. 2 South Sectional titles in 2016 and ’17.
It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about what it takes to survive and advance in March.
“As a coach, you’re always worried about how teams are going to start games in the tournament, especially the first round,” Costa said.
And while he may not have been pushing the panic button after No. 28 Longmeadow netted the first basket of the game last night against the fifth-seeded Panthers — that sense of worry was still there.
But those fears adapted slowly as the Panthers (19-2) pumped in the next 16 points to take a commanding lead and never looked back en route to a 52-23 victory over the Lancers (9-13) in the Div. 2 Round of 32.
“Once they saw the first one go in they kind of relaxed,” Costa said. “I just told them to embrace the moment.”
No one embraced the moment more than their three senior captains: Lauren Dunn, Abby Martin and Meg Stone.
Martin finished the night with a game-high 23 points and 10 boards. Thirteen of those points came in the first half as the Panthers opened up a 27-9 lead at the break.
“She just does what Abby does,” Costa said. “She just impacts the game in so many different ways. She had the hot hand tonight.”
Martin had the hot hand from beyond the arc, but Meg Stone had the hot hands below. She finished the night with 11 rebounds — 6 offensive. The Panthers ripped down 23 offensive rebounds as a team. Dunn had four of those offensive rebounds to go along with 10 points.
“They’re senior captains, they don’t want to go home,” Costa said. “They’re going to play extremely hard when they’re out there. We were relentless on the glass on our end, the offensive end, which was able to get us some extra possessions that helped us.”
The Panthers will host the winner of today’s No. 12 Newburyport (18-2) and No. 21 Sheppard Hill (16-6) in the Round of 16 on Tuesday.
“We’re going to need that type of effort the rest of the way,” Costa said. “We’ll see what happens on Tuesday.”