Driving force: Ferrari keys St. Mary’s team

Kirsten Ferrari would be making headlines on almost any other team but the St. Mary’s High School junior has been content this season making everyone around her a better player and her team a contender for the state championship.

Ferrari, the starting point guard on the St. Mary’s High School girls basketball team, had 12 points and nine assists in the Lady Spartans’ 48-41 victory over Weston in a Division 3 quarterfinal round game.

That clutch performance was emblematic of Ferrari’s valuable but unheralded leadership role for St. Mary’s: direct the offense, help beat the opposing team’s press, distribute the basketball, and contribute in the scoring column.

A reserve guard as a sophomore last season, Ferrari is averaging eight points and eight assists a game, meaning she personally generates about 24 points a night.

Ferrari scored 16 points (four 3-pointers) versus Manchester-Essex, 17 points (5 three-pointers) versus Archbishop Williams and had a season-high 18 points (12-for-14 from the line) in the Spartans’ first win over Bishop Fenwick in seven years. She is hitting her free throws at close to an 80 per cent clip.

St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall has overseen the steady development of Ferrari’s game. Ferrari has also received excellent guidance in the offseason from her Mass Thundercats AAU coaches, Marvin Avery, the Lynn Tech boys head coach, and James Ridley, Lynn Tech principal.

Ferrari has several offensive moves in her repertoire, but her ability to fake a shot and then either dribble past a defender or set up for a higher percentage shot may top the list.

“My dad always tells me to use that fake and it works, but I probably don’t use it as much as I should,” said Ferrari.

Newhall likes the way Ferrari pilots the offense against defensive pressure and the unselfish manner in which she distributes the ball to her teammates including Catholic Central League All-Stars Tori Faieta, Bria Tiro, and Cassi Amenta, and junior Molly Carey.

“Kirsten has a number of different moves, but the most important thing is that she’s comfortable with the basketball, and she’s comfortable handling the basketball with either hand,” said Newhall. “And playing the high level of teams we play against, you certainly can’t be one-dimensional. You have to be able to drive right, drive left, dribble with either hand, do the crossover, – you can’t be easy to defend. Her all-around skills are a credit to her commitment to playing basketball 9-10 months a year.”

Ferrari’s defensive skills are also superior, according to Newhall. “The most underrated part of her game is that she’s probably our best on-the-ball defender,” said Newhall. She’s a tremendous defensive player who’s fundamentally sound.”

Ferrari sees her role on the team as a caretaker of the basketball and a playmaker.

“My role is to take care of the ball and make sure it gets where it’s supposed to be and keep moving it around,” said Ferrari.

The daughter of Tim and Lisa Ferrari, Kirsten is carrying on the family’s legacy on the basketball court. Her sister, Amy, helped the Lady Spartans win a state championship at St. Mary’s in 2000. Another sister, Katie, also played basketball for the Lady Spartans. Her brother, Tim is a St. Mary’s graduate, while a cousin, Courtney, was a standout basketball player for Lynn Classical.

And now Kristen Ferrari and her teammates are preparing for the biggest game of their careers: a semifinal showdown with undefeated and No. 1-seed Pentucket Regional.

“I’m very excited about this game,” said Ferrari. “It’s a very big game for everyone. I love playing basketball with the girls on this team and I want our season to keep going as long as possible.”

With Ferrari continuing to excel at the point, the St. Mary’s season could keep going all the way to Causeway Street and Worcester.

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