LAWRENCE — Winning six straight games can give any basketball team the confidence it needs going into a stretch of games against quality teams.
But sometimes confidence is not enough.
That’s what the Central Catholic girls’ basketball team learned from games against Merrimack Valley Conference forces Lowell and Andover, plus Cape Ann League powerhouse Masconomet Regional. Despite going into these games on a hot streak, Central Catholic (9-5) was on the short end of the score in all three games, losing 62-51 to the Red Raiders, falling 69-61 to the Golden Warriors and succumbing 56-50 against the Chieftains.
“This is what you call in fraternity world hell week,” Central coach Susan Downer said. “We’re in a little hell week, but to be good you have to play good teams. It would have been nice to have an easy one in between, but we can’t control that.”
Despite losing all three games, Downer welcomed the challenge.
“I just think going into this part of the season it’s good to play teams like this,” the 12-year coach said. “It’s not like we were blown out in those games; we were right there.”
Dwelling on the losses will not help the Raiders since they are a victory shy of qualifying for the MIAA Division 1 North tournament. “We’ve got to win one more.” Downer said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. We lost. We’ve got to move on.”
Last season, the Raiders finished 15-5 in the regular season and rolled their way through the postseason by defeating Lawrence, Peabody, Lexington, Lowell and Needham before eventually falling to the Springfield Golden Eagles 62-49 in the state Division I title game at the DCU Center in Worcester.
“Wherever we end up being (in the tournament), I think anybody in our sectional is going to be nervous to play us,” Downer said. “We’ve never not made it since I’ve been here and I’m not going to let that happen this year.”
According to Downer, team chemistry is the recipe to success and her Raiders are making the most of their mix.
“I think that we have interesting chemistry,” Downer said. “Is it the ideal chemistry you want? Probably not, but I think we’re making the most of the chemistry we do have.”
Central had three games to play against MVC foes Billerica (Feb. 5), Haverhill (Feb. 8) and Andover (Feb. 14) before heading into the Comcast Tourney at Boston College High School on Feb. 16.