Pena hits 1,000 as Burlington High girls basketball wins playoff opener

The suspense of who was going to win Tuesday night’s Div. 3 state tournament preliminary game between the Burlington High girls basketball team and visiting Ursuline Academy was over quickly.

The Red Devils jumped out to an 11-3 lead and closed the first quarter with a 15-2 run.

Yes, Burlington would be advancing.

The question then became, would BHS be playing at Newburyport with its first 1,000-point scorer or would senior Aylvia Pena have to get the job done on the road Thursday against a team coached by Karen Grutchfield, who held the high school’s scoring record for more than 40 years until Pena broke it earlier this season.

Entering the game, Pena needed 27 points to crack 1,000 points. 

With a layup late in the third quarter, Pena scored her 27th and 28th points of the evening to the delight of the crowd.

She finished the night with 33 points as Burlington cruised to a 67-49 victory.

The lead was actually 30 with 4:18 left in the fourth quarter before Ursuline closed the game with a 14-2 run.

Sophomore Savanna Scali added 18 points for the Red Devils in the victory while freshman Sophia Marshall scored seven and senior Ali Restivo chipped in with six. Senor Cassidy Soohoo had her usual terrific all-around performance, scoring three points and doing just about everything else to contribute to the victory.

Up 4-3, Burlington used a 7-0 spurt to gain a little breathing room.

Scali took Soohoo’s excellent inbounds pass and converted a layup,, Marshall swished a 3-pointer and Pena scored on a layup with four minutes to go.

Scali and Pena did the heavy lifting for the rest of the quarter, combining to score all 15 points as Scali had three baskets and then Pena drained three consecutive 3-pointers, one off of a nice assist by Restivo.

Burlington went on a 13-2 surge in the second quarter to blow the game open, leading 39-12 at one point and taking a 39-15 edge into halftime.

Pena had 18 points at halftime.

The teams combined for 33 points in the third quarter, but Pena had nine historic ones as she completed her run to 1,000. The basket that clinched it was a long pass from Soohoo, of course, that was actually tipped to Pena by Scali. Pena converted the layup and then shared a big hug with junior Taylor Pavao and several other teammates before running across the court to celebrate with her family.

As Pena hugged her parents, a group of young basketball players cheered wildly.


The Devils led 56-31 after three quarters and cruised through the final eight minutes.

Burlington played seventh-seeded Newburyport on Thursday night.