Strong second half sends Newburyport to 65-49 win over North Reading

Sami Cavanaugh (15 points) keyed the Clippers second half comeback

Ali Grasso (23 points)

(Newburyport MA) It isn’t often that you go to one game and see two of them.

If all you saw was the first half of tonight’s Newburyport/North Reading game, you would have been very impressed with the Hornets.  They made shots in close and from long range (five 3’s).  The North Reading defense forced nine turnovers in the first half and Julia Howse had several blocks on layup attempts. Junior Ali Grasso had thirteen points and NR led, 35-27.

Fortunately for Newburyport there was a second half and it was their turn to dazzle.  The Clippers caught the Hornets in the third quarter and blew the visitors out in the final quarter to win, 65-49.

“That was us in the first half,” said North Reading coach Bob Melillo afterwards.  “We didn’t play defense in the second half.”

The high NHS point total was a big surprise to the NR coach.  “We gave up 65 points.  We never give up 65 points to anyone.”

Newburyport fast break

Junior Sami Cavanaugh (15 points) explained how things got turned around: “Coach (Grutchfield) told us at halftime, ‘No second shots.  Be smart on offense.  No turnovers.  Every possession counts.”

Newburyport (6-4) has now won six of their last seven games.  “We can compete with anyone when we play well,” explained NHS coach Karen Grutchfield.

One significant improvement was lessening the turnovers.  In this game the Clippers had nine TOs in the first quarter but had only ten more over the final three periods.

“When we attack offensively, we’re a different team,” added Coach Grutchfield. “Tonight, we had four players in double figures.”

Katie Hadden (11 points) battles for a rebound

Sami Cavanaugh (15) led the Clippers.  Anna Hickman (12), Katie Hadden (11), and Meg Winn (11) were also in double figures.

Junior Ali Grasso (23 points) led the Hornets.

A key to the Newburyport win?  Ali Grasso had only two points in the final quarter.

The teams were tied, 44-44, going into that final quarter.

The Clippers tight defense, with Sami Cavanaugh covering Ali Grasso, limited the visitors to one Ali drive in the first four minutes.  Meanwhile, the Clippers get-to-the-basket approach turned up three layups, and four free throws.  Meg Winn added a triple.  That’s a thirteen-point collection!

The burst of good everything separated the Clippers, 57-46, from NR and the Hornets couldn’t recover.

Coach Grutchfield: “The game was called so tight.  Our team seemed to adjust to it better than they did.”

The Clippers now 6-4 started the season with three straight losses. “The story of our season has been too many turnovers,” said Coach Grutchfield.  “We talk a lot about protecting the ball.”

North Reading (7-3) had won four straight games prior to tonight’s loss.

The Hornets defeated Newburyport, 53-45, in December at North Reading.  Casey McAuliffe had seventeen for NR in the win.  Tonight, Casey ended with seven points and none of them after the first minute of the second period.

North Reading box

Newburyport box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

scramble

Anna Hickman (12 points) out front

Casey McAuliffe (10) in where shots get blocked

Maggie Pons (3) and Jessica Rosseau (44)

Maggie Pons in for two

Mia DeNofrio

Next generation

 

 

 

 

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Amebury catches Triton and wins 61-58 in overtime

Max McKenzie contested by Blake Bennett

Luke Martin (5) had eighteen points after the first half.

(Amesbury MA) Luke Martin was part of Amesbury’s problem in the first half.

The second half?  He was a big part of the solution.

Amesbury rallied after a half of subpar defense/offense to reach overtime with Triton and then dominated overtime to scratch out a, 61-58, win on Tuesday night.

“We played a zone early and Triton made a bunch of three’s,” said Coach Tom Comeau afterwards.

The solution?  Change to a man-to-man and apply ¾ court pressure after baskets.

“That pressure had an effect,” said Triton coach Ted Schruender.  “We had chances to score and didn’t.”

TJ Overbaugh (12 points) had three 3’s in the first quarter

The Indians (3-5) trailed by fourteen (31-17) at the half and the way Triton was shooting made you think that the lead might get bigger in the second half.

“I challenged the team at halftime to play better and protect the homecourt,” said Coach Comeau.  It worked for certain.

But the Vikings (5-6) didn’t go away despite the improved play of the home team.

However, the Triton lead started to shrink in the second half and when Jimmy Gjikopulli hit a runner in the lane with two minutes left in regulation, Amesbury was ahead for the first time, 48-47.

Those expecting Triton to now quit were disappointed.  Led by Max McKenzie (22 points), Triton regained the lead, 52-48 with thirty-six seconds left.

Enter Luke Martin.  Actually, Luke had already entered (finally) in the second half and had accumulated ten points in Amesbury’s second half revival.

Luke Martin from the corner over Max McKenzie

But now down four with time running out, Luke nailed his third triple of the second half to get AHS within one.  Triton’s Kyle Odoy followed with one-of-two free throws.  Junior Jimmy Gjikoupulli finished the Amesbury comeback with a layup just before the buzzer sounded and the game reached overtime – 53-53.

Amesbury continued their defensive pressure in the four-minute overtime and Triton struggled against it.  The Vikings had three turnovers to show for the first two minutes.

Meanwhile the Indians had a fallaway from Jaden Keliher and two free throws from Luke Martin. Then it was Luke again with 1:51 left hitting a large three.  AHS now had a seven-point lead (60-53).

Credit Triton.  Game over?  Not by the way they answered.  Max McKenzie went to the hoop twice getting layups, and on the second one he was fouled.  Max made the shot and now Triton was within two (60-58) with forty seconds left.

Max McKenzie guarded by Ethan Catania

Plenty of time.  Amesbury opted to use as much clock as possible before shooting.  Jaden Keliher took the shot, missed, and it looked as if Triton might have fifteen seconds to get an ending they liked.

Looking for a hero for Amesbury?  It was Kyle Donovan getting the offensive rebound off Jaden’s miss.  That extended the possession and Triton was forced to foul.  Jimmy Gjikopulli made one-of-two to give the Indians a 3-point lead.  Triton struggled on their final possession and were unable to get off a three to possibly tie the game.  Amesbury had an exciting 61-58 victory.

Luke Martin: “We got things going in the second half.  We heated up.  Even after I missed a few I had to keep shooting.  It was a good idea by Coach to put pressure on them because they didn’t handle it too well.”

Camden Keliher (16 points) puts up a floater in the lane

Coach Schruender: “It was a good competitive game that we let get away from us.  It’s a learning experience.  We’ll work on things and make it better.”

TJ Overbaugh of Triton made four three’s including three in the Vikings breakaway first period.

Triton defeated Amesbury 42-41 in December.  Neither Nick Everett nor Luke Martin played for Amesbury in that one.  TJ did and he made three triples.

Triton ended up with twenty turnovers (by my count) while Amesbury had only ten.

Luke Martin (18), Camden Keliher (16), and Jimmy Gjikopulli (13) reached double figures for Amesbury.

Max McKenzie (22) led all scorers.

Amesbury box

Triton box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Max McKenzie (22 points) to the rim

Blake Bennett

Jaden Keliher (15) guarded by Quintin McHale (14)

Kyle Odoy (15) between Oliver Hogg (14) and Kyle Donovan (20)

Kyle Odoy free throw

Luke Martin (5) on the move defended by Kyle Odoy (15)

Luke Martin shoots a free throw

 

 

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Pentucket still undefeated after 60-45 win over Triton

Gus Flaherty tries to control a loose ball with Max McKenzie in pursuit

Nick Doring (20) in the air looking for someone to pass to

(West Newbury MA) The wait for the first loss continues.

Pentucket (9-0) had a big first half and continued with their winning ways defeating Triton, 60-45, on Friday night in Cape Ann League action.

The Sachems are one of only two Division 3 North teams to still carry an unblemished record.  The other is St. Mary’s (Lynn).

“We’ve had good team play at both ends of the court,” was how Pentucket coach Ed Hickey explained the Sachems terrific start.

I saw what he was talking about tonight against the Vikings.  The Sachems played an active zone that gave Triton few open looks, especially in close.  On the other end, against the Triton zone, Pentucket was patient and willing to pass the ball until a good shot showed up.  Call them unselfish.

Sam Stys breaks in

Junior Jake Etter led Pentucket with seventeen points, collecting thirteen of them in the breakaway first half.

Senior Spencer Pacy had 16 points including four straight free throws in the 4th quarter when Triton had cut their deficit inside of double digits.

“Tonight’s game wasn’t as pretty as we wanted it to be,” said senior Gus Flaherty afterwards, “because Triton is a good team.”

The Sachems have been winning by large margins so far this season.  “We needed a competitive game because we will be in those kinds of games in the future,” explained Gus.

The Vikings (5-5) were looking at a 50-30 deficit 1 ½ minutes into the final quarter.  But then, sparked by junior Michael Farago, the visitors put good defense and point-producing offense together and made things interesting.

Rejected

The result was a 12-1 run tightening things to 51-42 with 3 ½ minutes left.  Pentucket coach Ed Hickey saw where things were headed and called a timeout.

Out of that timeout it was the home team’s turn to shine at both ends of the court.  In the next minute the Sachems regained control of the direction of the game and pushed on to their 9th win.

Spencer Pacy (four free throws), Peter Cleary (two free throws), and Gus Flaherty (layup assisted by Sam Stys) were involved in Pentucket’s good minute of offense/defense.

Max McKenzie (15 points) paced Triton.  Max lost quite of few minutes because of foul trouble.

Mason Ferrick tallied ten points for the Vikings getting all of them in the second half.

Max McKenzie (15 points) drives past Pat Dillon

The Sachems broke a 9-6 game open with a 14-2 segment that stretched into the second quarter.  Jake Etter had a big part in the breakaway notching eight points.  He had a triple and added three straight free throws when he was fouled on an attempted three.

Triton trailed by sixteen (32-16) at the half.  The deficit climbed to twenty (50-30) in the final quarter before they cut the lead to nine.

“We had the opportunity to put them (Triton) away,” said Coach Hickey, “but they didn’t give up.”

Triton struggled to make shots most of the night, but their defense turned up scoring chances in the last period.

Jack Tummino converts a steal in the second half

Triton actually “won” the second half (29-28) but their sixteen-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome.

Coach Hickey: “I have not seen (undefeated) St. Mary’s play but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.”

The Sachems will face two Division 3 Cape Ann League teams with only one loss over the next ten days; Hamilton-Wenham and Newburyport.  “Both teams have been strong over the last couple of years,” said Coach Hickey.

“Playing Newburyport will be fun,” said Gus.  “I am really excited about that one.”

Pentucket was 16-7 last season.  They reached the state semifinals at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Kyle Odoy blocks out

There will be a rematch between Triton and Pentucket at Triton on February 1st.

Good teams have multiple scoring threats.  Pentucket fits that bill having had five different players (Jake Etter, Pat Dillon, Spencer Pacy, Peter Lopata, Gus Flaherty) be top scorers in their nine wins.

Pentucket box

Triton box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Gus Flaherty

Tie-up

Spencer Pacy

TJ Overbaugh covered by Pat Dillon

Gus Flaherty chases a loose ball

Max McKenzie down the lane

 

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Maddie Doyle’s defense sparks Pentucket in 39-27 win over Masco

Mak Graves (3) chased by Maddie Doyle and Angelina Yacubacci

Tight defense was on full display

(West Newbury MA) The girl didn’t score a point yet afterwards her coach was singing her praises.

“I told the team afterwards that Maddie (Doyle) did a fantastic job,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara.

Maddie’s terrific defense on Masco’s Mak Graves was a key piece in the Sachems, 39-27, win tonight in Cape Ann League action.

“Mak is one of the best, if not the best, player around,” said Coach McNamara.  “Maddie battles and battles.  Our other defenders were ready to help but Maddie was front and center.”

Mak Graves finished with twelve points but her only open shots were at the foul line.

Mak Graves (12 points) gets inside

The final score in this one will fool you because Masconomet dominated the first half.  The Cheiftains (5-2) put eleven unanswered points together and turned an early 3-2 deficit into a 13-3 advantage at the 6:30 mark of the second period.  Mak Graves had both of her three’s in this segment.  One of them was a remarkable step-back three.

The visitors led, 17-11, at the half.

“I thought that in the first half we were terrific,” recalled Masco coach Bob Romeo.  “We came out of the gate flying.  Maybe we should have had a bigger lead.”

One thing that probably prevented a bigger lead was the limited floor time for sophomore Morgan Bovardi.  Morgan (“She’s one of our bigger scorers” – Coach Romeo) was a foul magnet all night and was on the bench longer than she played.

Pentucket (7-1) turned things around in the second half.  “We needed to play better defense and slow down on offense,” explained junior Angelica Hurley (15 points) afterwards.

Megan Reading (33) tries to block Mak Graves’ shot

The Sachems tallied so few points in the first half that the chances to flash their full-court pressure had been minimal.  In the second half, that changed.

After Mak Graves boosted the Masco lead to 19-11 with a layup through traffic, the Sachems went on a 10-point run.  Senior Jess Galvin started things with a triple.  Later, Angelica Hurley (15 points)  converted an offensive rebound and added three free throws.  Junior Angelina Yarabacci (13 points) contributed two free throws.  The streak of points gave Pentucket a 21-19 lead halfway through the third quarter.

Credit Masco.  They hung in there and at the end of the period the scored was tied at 24-24.

In a game when points seemed to come only in bunches, it was the next “bunch” that turned tonight’s game Pentucket’s way.

“We decided not to settle for the outside shot but instead get to the rim,” said Coach McNamara.

Angelina Yacubacci (13 points) finds an opening

The first 3 ½ minutes of the final period combined a point-producing offense with a shutdown defense.  The Sachems put nine unanswered points together and raced ahead 33-24.  Their shutdown defense didn’t allow a Masco point for the first 5 ½ minutes of the last period.  That combination almost always leads to a happy ending for the team doing it and that was what happened.

Pentucket had three points in the first quarter while Masco had three in the fourth quarter.

Masco had twenty-one turnovers by my count.  Twelve of them came in a first half in which they ended up with a 17-11 lead.  Pentucket finished with ten TOs with only four of them in the comebacking second half.

Marissa DeLucia stops Angelica Hurley

Bob Romeo: “Credit them.  We couldn’t get any offensive rhythm. They played great defense.”

John McNamara: “It is always a war with Masco.  They came out and took it to us.  It was nice to see us respond.  Any time you beat Masco it is a good win.  We’ll enjoy it while we can.”

Angelica Hurley: “Maddie (Doyle) did a great job on Mak Graves.  She’s a very good shooter.  Morgan (Bovardi) being in foul trouble made a difference.”

Bob Romeo: “I had no problem with out kids’ effort.  We held them to 39 points.  They had been averaging close to 60.  We’ll make more shots when we play them again in February.”

Watching Maddie Doyle and Mak Graves battle was a treat.  They both are relentless.

Full house at Pentucket and they got their money’s worth.

Casey Hunt (now of Bradford Christian) was in the house.

Masco box

Pentucket box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Angelic Hurley tries to go under and up

Jess Galvin and Morgan Bovardi dive for a loose ball

Liv Cross (32) tightly guarded

Sara Fogarty (12) and Angelica Hurley (24)

Liv Cross (32) tightly guarded by Sara Fogarty

Mak Graves (3) trying to get open

Mak Graves shoots free throws

Olivia Filmore (24) and Jess Galvin (12)

Olivia Filmore shoots a free throw

 

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Rally in regulation sets Triton up for 54-51 win in OT against Rockport

Kyle Odoy (16 points) sends the game into OT with this last-second triple

Max McKenzie (16 points) and Jake Knowlton (14 points)

(Byfield MA) You hear it all the time, but how often does it mean anything?

“It’s not over ‘til it’s over.”

Triton’s Kyle Odoy (16 points) dropped that line into our post-game interview tonight after his team rallied late in regulation and then went on to defeat Rockport, 54-51 in overtime.

Triton (5-2) certainly needed a miracle finish to get this one into overtime and they pulled it off.

Three straight free throws by Jake Knowlton (14 points) put Rockport (2-6) up, 48-43, with only twenty-three seconds left in regulation.  Comfortable lead…….or so it seemed.

“We had really good shots the whole entire game and we just missed them,” recalled Triton coach Ted Schruender. “We figured that they would eventually start falling.”

And fall they did as Kyle Odoy drained two straight from long range in the closing 23 seconds.

The first last-minute triple was on an inbounds play from in front of the Triton bench with eleven seconds remaining.  The second was of the “Hail Mary” variety from straight away.

“I just got it and chucked it,” said Kyle describing the buzzer-beating second one.

Noah Rawson at the line in the closing seconds of regulation

In between the two Kyle triples, Noah Rawson (10 points) made one of two free throws for Rockport.  Noah missed the second and there was a tie-up.  The possession arrow favored Triton and gave them time to come down for the final shot.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably saying something like, “The game wasn’t won in regulation so what happened in the four-minute OT?”

“Not much,” would be the answer!

Noah Rawson tied the game (51-51) with a layup halfway through OT.  Kyle Odoy then put Triton in front for good with 1:45 left on a jump shot.

Triton defense

After that the Triton man-to-man defense kept Rockport away from the basket.  The visitors didn’t turn the ball over, they just couldn’t get their outside shots to fall.

On the other end, Triton took the ball to the basket and forced fouls.  That “it’s not over ‘til it’s over” thing was still in play because Triton missed four of five free-throw attempts.  Rockport had three possessions to catch up but not on this night.

“We had just enough to win,” said Coach Schruender.

Tonight’s game was tied ten different times.

TJ Overbaugh (8 points) hit a three in the closing seconds of the first period.  Max McKenzie (16 points) drove the length of the court to end the third period with a layup.  I guess we should have expected that something could happen at the end of regulation!

Triton had a 28-20 lead a minute into the third quarter.  Ezra Mendoza, Gavyn Hillier (14 points), and Austin Matus put points together and knotted the score at 30-30.

Gavyn Hillier (14 points) shoots over Max McKenzie

Rockport used a 1-3-1 zone defense and kept Triton away from layups.  Triton passed and dribbled their way into open looks but couldn’t make shots.

Triton’s man-to-man kept Rockport from doing much damage in close.  A few times 6-7 Jake Knowlton was able to get the ball inside and finish.

Max McKenzie took the ball to the basket even against the Rockport zone. He was also a key defender.

Triton box

Rockport box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Kyle Odoy shoots

Mason Ferrick (2) covered by Ezra Mendoza

Max McKenzie at the free throw line

Max McKenzie to the basket in overtime

Max McKenzie shoots over Austin Matus (13)

Pressure on the ball by Kyle Odoy

Rebound battle

Andrew Guelli (30) rebounds

Austin Matus (13)

Facial

TJ Overbaugh (1) guarded by Jake Knowlton

Triton coach Ted Schruender

 

 

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Souderton wins 6th straight defeating Perkiomen Valley 51-27

Gabby Marinacci (22) with a trio of Souderton defenders

Souderton defense forced thirteen turnovers

(Collegeville PA) There were some good things and there were some not-so-good things.

Souderton defeated Perkiomen Valley, 51-27, on Friday afternoon in non-league action.

The Indians (7-1) are coming off a season in which they reached the state final four.

In this one Souderton took the lead early and increased it as the game went along.

SHS coach Lynn Carroll was pleased with the six straight wins. “To be 7-1 at the end of December is very nice.  We graduated three starters who are playing at the collegiate level.”

Despite the margin of victory, Coach Carroll was concerned about her team’s play in the first half.  “We settled for quick shots,” she said.  “At halftime we talked of improving our approach on offense.”

Senior Megan Walbrandt (11 points) commented on the Indians improved play in the second half.  “We played a lot more unselfishly.  We were looking for the open person by making the extra pass.  We were able to find the open cutter.”

Freshman Jennifer Beattie (3) chases down Erica Stephens (14)

Perkiomen Valley coach Kelly Sorber saw the game as a learning experience.  “I told the team afterwards that they were able to stick with a very good team for a half.  We need to string more good quarters together.”

After a game-opening three by PV’s Gabby Marinacci (14 points), Souderton turned up the defensive heat and gave the Vikings (3-7) few openings thereafter.

Souderton attacked the Perkiomen ball-handlers, forced turnovers, and started a game-long parade of scoring from close to the basket.

“Our defense was good throughout the game,” said Coach Carroll.  “We’ve built a reputation over the last few years of being a team that plays great man-to-man defense.”

Megan O’Donnell (25) keyed the Souderton fast start

The offense didn’t flow quite as smoothly as the coach would have wanted but the Indians found enough high percentage shots, led by Megan O’Donnell (8 points) to lead 16-8 after the first period.

Senior Megan Walbrandt (11 points) had seven of them in the second quarter, including a three, and the visitors had a 27-15 advantage at halftime.

“I was especially pleased with the way we played in the third quarter,” said Coach Carroll.  And who could blame her?

The Souderton offense began to turn up layups in quantity.  They had three quick ones in the first 1 ½ minutes.

What made the scoring appealing was the cutting and passing that went along with it.  “We were able to find open teammates,” recalled Megan Walbrandt.

Megan Walbrandt (12) passes to an open teammate

The Indians put six straight points together before Gabby Marinacci hit two free throws.

The next Souderton run took all the mystery out of the final outcome.  This time the “straight” points reached ten.  The Vikings were co-conspirators with four turnovers.  Curran O’Donnell (10 points) chose this three-minute segment to drain two 3’s.

The good collection of offense/defense elevated the Souderton spread to 43-17 with 2 ½ minutes to go in the 3rd period. Benches were cleared for the final minutes.

Coach Carroll: “We played so much better in the second half.  We were moving the ball around.  Our assists increased.  It is really fun to watch them when they play that way.”

Coach Sorber: “We’re young.  We have some seniors, but we have three freshmen that get some big minutes.”

Coach Carroll: “Perkiomen will continue to get better with the young talent they have.”

Souderton made nineteen field goals in the game.  Sixteen of their field goals were inside shots.  Is there a higher percentage shot than a layup?

Jennifer Beattie (3) finds a passing lane

The Vikings may have been a little tired because they played Conestoga yesterday.  “We hit fifteen 3-pointers against them,” said Coach Sorber regarding the victory.

The tenacious Indians yielded only three long ones in this afternoon’s victory.

The Vikings totaled thirteen turnovers while Souderton had only five.

Megan Walbrandt (11), Mikaela Reese (10), and Curran O’Donnell (10) paced Souderton.

Mikaela had several blocks for the Indians.

Curran O’Donnell’s three over Katie Hurd

Coach Sorber: “Souderton is a good team.  They’re very well coached.  They run their system very well. They have won districts and they’ve been to the semi’s a lot of times.  They start four seniors.”

Megan Walbrandt: “I hope we’re heading in the same direction we did last year.  I am hoping next year to play basketball in college locally.  I am interested in the health science field.”

I was impressed with the PV gymnasium.

Souderton box

Perkiomen Valley box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Strong interior defense by Souderton

Mikaela Reese (33) tries to get by Kylie Monaco (14)

Few easy shots for the Vikings

Olivia Schneider (11) to the rim

Battle of the bigs – Souderton’s Mikaela Reese and PV’s Lily Sherman

Curran O’Donnell (22) cuts in for two

Emma Miley (20) guarded by Megan Walbrandt (12) with Mikaela Reese (33) ready to help

Hannah Alderfer (15)

Kelly Owens (34)

Souderton coach Lynn Carroll (standing)

 

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Pentucket stays undefeated with 57-33 win over North Reading

Angelica Hurley pressures Ali Grasso

Jess Galvin (12) guards Casey McAuliffe (10)

(West Newbury MA) The names change but the approach to defense doesn’t.

Pentucket (3-0) held North Reading (2-1) to just two points in the first quarter and went from there to a 57-33 win on Friday night.

Both teams had started the season with two wins over Cape Ann League competition.

“Pentucket is ahead of us,” said NR coach Bob Melillo afterwards.  “Their intensity level is better, and they are very good at running plays.”

On this night, the Sachems turned up layups on inbounds plays, backdoor cuts, and a full-court pass (Angelica Hurley) that led to a layup (Angelina Yacubacci) against full-court pressure.

Arielle Cleveland (16 points) tracks down a loose ball

After the first quarter (13-2) the Sachems joined the Hornets in struggling to score.  That lasted into the final quarter.  NR was within nine (31-22) as the 4th period began.

In that final quarter the Pentucket defense, which had been very good, was joined by a good-things barrage down the offensive end.  The points started flowing from in close (seven layups) and the lead reached twenty (50-30) 5 ½ minutes into the last quarter.

Arielle Cleveland led all scorers with sixteen points, including fourteen in the second half.  “Arielle is a very good basketball player,” said Coach John McNamara.  “She dominated the last portion of the game underneath at both ends.  She is only a sophomore and going to get even better.”

Lauren Sullivan paced the Hornets with eleven points.

Coach Melillo was disappointed with the way his team played.  “I thought that we would be much better than we were today,” he said.  “There were too many easy baskets and second-shot baskets.”

Julia Howse (33) blocks a shot

“North Reading is a very good team,” said Coach McNamara.  “I thought that they might be the best team in the CAL.”  Not on this night.  The Hornets never got comfortable against the hounding man-to-man coverage they faced.  Much of their movement on offense was east-to-west rather than toward the basket.

The North Reading defense was solid in the middle periods.  Sophomore Julia Howse had at least four blocks by my count.  She also made several terrific cross-court passes.  I won’t get into her skills as a shortstop on the NR softball team!

Angelina Hurley and Angelica Yacubacci each had fourteen points for Pentucket.

“We work a lot on in bounds plays,” said Coach McNamara.  “If you can get a couple of them to work in a game it’s big.”

Coach Melillo was optimistic about the future.  “We’ll get better.  I think that now the girls understand how hard they have to play for 32 minutes to compete with a team like Pentucket.”

Jess Galvin (12) looks for an opening

The Hornets were able to limit the Sachems to only three 3’s.  However, by closely defending the perimeter they opened up driving opportunities for Angelina, Angelica, and Jess Galvin.

I asked Coach McNamara about the after-effects of the overtime loss to Foxboro in the D2 state semifinals.  “The kids have gotten over the Foxboro loss.  As I coach, I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

North Reading was 16-6 last season.

Pentucket was 23-3 last season.

Coach McNamara is in his 13th season with Pentucket and currently has a remarkable 260-44 won/loss record during that time.

Good crowd in house on a warm (for December) night outside.

North Reading box

Pentucket box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Planning

Tight Pentucket defense

Ali Grasso (3) guarded by Maddi Doyle

Angelina Yacubacci (22) drives past Julia Howse (33) and Mia DeNofrio (23)

Angelina Yacubacci (22) eyes defender Julia Howse (33)

Blocking out

Casey McAuliffe at the line

Scramble on the floor

Julia Howse (33) at the line

Mia DeNofrio (23) in for two

 

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