Casey McLaren and Tyler Koglin lead Newburyport by Masco 2-1

Casey McLaren congratulated by teammates Tommy Murphy and Nick White

2B Tyler Koglin

(Newburyport MA) Casey McLaren didn’t even see the play.

The tying run on third.  One out in the final inning.

Masco’s Matt Aldrich flaired a blooper to right with trouble written all over it.

“I headed for home,” recalled Casey afterward, “to back up a throw.”

But then Casey heard cheering.  “It took me a few seconds to realize that we’d gotten an out.”

Newburyport second baseman Tyler Koglin caused the cheers by racing back into right and making a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch to keep Andrew Gotts from scoring from third.

Tyler then handled the final grounder and the home team (Newburyport) had a 2-1 win over Masconomet on a summer-like Saturday afternoon in Cape Ann League action.

“That play the second baseman made in the last inning saved the game for them,” said Chieftains coach TJ Baril.  “That’s a real tough catch for a second baseman to make.”

Mark Rowe and TJ Baril

Newburyport coach Mark Rowe was equally enthusiastic about Tyler’s catch: “As far as making a big play in a special situation, his catch would rank near the top of the list in all the years I’ve been coaching.”

And then there was the pitching!

Senior Casey McLaren had a no-hitter going into the seventh and finished with a one-hitter.

Easy to overlook was Masco’s pitching but it was also solid. Freshman Erik Sibbach yielded only four singles in 3 innings while sophomore Aaron Zenus followed and held Newburyport hitless during his three innings of work.

Ryan Archer had an RBI single

“It was your classic pitcher’s duel,” said Coach Baril.

The Clippers (2-1) put three of their four hits together in the second inning and produced two runs out of it.

Parker McLaren singled to short center and went to second on a passed ball with no outs. Tommy Murphy followed with an infield hit moving Parker to third and then took second on an infield out.

A wild pitch brought Parker home and advanced Tommy to third.  Ryan Archer’s bloop single to center scored Tommy with the eventual game winner.

Casey McLaren

Casey McLaren was overpowering.  He retired the first eleven Masco batters before walking Pat Costigan in the 4th. The Tufts commit had eight strikeouts.

An error (Tyler Koglin) gave Masco a baserunner with two out in the 5th but Casey ended the inning striking out Ethan Cote.

The seventh inning was the big test for the Clippers.  Casey walked leadoff batter Pat Costigan on four pitches.  Andrew Gotts then lined Masco’s first hit to center.

“When Casey works ahead in the count, good things happen, “said Coach Rowe.  “In the seventh he fell behind the first batter, walked him, and then anything could have happened.”

Last year the Chieftains slugged twenty-two homers.  Almost all of those HR’s graduated.  Therefore, this year Masco is developing other ways to score runs.  One of those ways is to be aggressive on the bases.  In their opening win (6-2) over Lynn Classical the Chieftains had five steals.

Seventh inning action with the tying run on third

Today in the 7th with two on and no outs, the Chieftains successfully executed a double steal.  Next thing you knew, a wild pitch led to Masco’s first run and moved the other runner to third with no outs.  Suddenly the outcome wasn’t so certain.

But then Casey surrounded Tyler’s terrific catch with two infield grounders and the Clippers had their second win of the young season.

“It was a great Cape Ann League game,” said Coach Rowe.  “Two pretty good teams that should be in it in the end.”

Casey said that he was aware that he hadn’t given up any hits.  “I started thinking about it in the fifth inning.  Last year I had several one-hitters so I wanted to finally get a no-hitter, but it will have to wait.  Getting the win was more important. Both of my pitches were working well.  My curve ball was big against the top of their order.”

The weather was very pleasant and brought out a good crowd.

Part of the crowd at Pettingell Field

Coach Rowe: “Casey was outstanding.  He pitched some pretty good ones at the end of last season.  It’s hard for me to rank them however in this one he was as in command as he has been in a long time.”

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

Final out

Andrew Gotts had Masco’s first and only hit

Caught in a rundown

Erik Sibbach

Parker McLaren scores on a wild pitch in the second inning

Pat Costigan

Pat Costigan scores in the seventh

Ryan Archer steals second

Trouble in the field

Tyler Koglin about to throw to first

Shortstop Will Hunter and Tommy Greene

Shortstop Will Hunter fields a grounder

Tommy Murphy

 

 

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Manchester-Essex upsets Newburyport 8-7 in CAL girls lacrosse

Diane Rodier and Molly Brady rush to celebrate an 8-7 win over Newburyport ending six straight losses to the Clippers

ME goalie Bella Pomeroy congratulated by teammates

(Newburyport MA) What a difference a week makes!

Manchester-Essex won their third game of the week, edging Newburyport, 8-7, on a sunny Thursday afternoon at Newburyport.

Meanwhile, the Clippers, with only two losses in the last two seasons, suffered their second loss of this week.

Abby Lantz (7) in the middle of the action

Senior Abby Lantz netted the game-winner with 4:26 left and was quick to credit her teammates: “That last goal was the climax of what my teammates were doing throughout the entire game.”

Newburyport’s Sam King (3 goals) faces goalie Bella Pomeroy

Newburyport (1-2) dominated the first fifteen minutes getting two goals from sophomore Sam King and one from junior Maggie Pons.

“Being down early (3-0) didn’t bother us,” said ME coach Nan Gorton. “We like the challenge.  The same scenario happened against Marblehead (14-6 win).  We just had to figure out what they were trying to do and see how we were going to beat it.”

That “figuring out” happened in the final 6+ minutes of the first half as the Hornets, with goals by Brigid Edgerton, Lily Athanas (2), Emma Cochand, and Gianna Huet, left with a 5-3 halftime advantage.

The second half was tense.  Katie Hadden tied the score at 6-6 and later teammate Maggie Pons tied things at 7-7 with 5:47 left.

Maggie Pons covered by Lily Athanas

Lafayette College commit Abby Lantz tallied the decisive goal 1+ minutes later and ME held on to end a six-game losing streak to Newburyport.

“It feels really good to beat them,” said Abby afterwards.  “We came into the game with those past experiences as fuel for us.”

Last year the Hornets were a very good 17-4 but three of the defeats were to the Clippers including the D2 North finals.

“We did a better job in this game in the second half of finding open girls,” said NHS coach Catherine Batchelder.

Sam King ready to shoot as Molly Brady defends

“Lacrosse is a game of momentum,” added Coach Batchelder, “wherever the draw goes is where the goals go.  We had trouble possessing the ball in the draw and that enabled them to get back in the game.”

Maggie Pons looks for an opening as Isabel Amigo defends

The defense of Lily Athanas on Maggie Pons (Cornell commit) was a key to the win.  “She did a nice job shadowing a great player,” said Coach Gorton. Maggie had 112 goals last season but only two this afternoon.

The ME coach also commended goalie Bella Pomery: “She is one of the best of the best.  She’s also a great teammate.  She tells everyone in front of her where to be and where not to be.”

Bella made a huge save on Sam King in the closing minute.

Coach Batchelder: “We’re just very young.  We’re still trying to find our way out there. They stayed composed in a lot of different situations this afternoon.”

Abby Lantz came from behind the net on the winning goal and perfectly executed a crease roll.

Drew Charlton

Abby on her choice of Lafayette College (Easton PA): “Throughout high school I’ve been playing club soccer.  That got me a lot of exposure.  Lafayette (Division 1) reached out to me and later, after visiting, I reached back.  When I step on their campus, I get butterflies.  As far as I’m concerned, it has the perfect balance of academics and athletics.  I am interested in government and psychology.  I have met the other nine recruits and played with the team and interacted with the coaching staff.”

Excellent April weather…….sunshine and temperatures in the upper fifties.

There will be a rematch at Manchester on May 21st. It would also seem likely that the two teams could meet for a third time, like last year, in the tournament.

I would expect a little more scoring from Maggie Pons in the games ahead.  Too many minutes off the field today because of infractions.

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

Ball on the ground

Abby Lantz passes

Brigid Edgerton, Emma Cochand, Sami Cavanaugh, Gianna Huet

Brigid Edgerton

Brigid Edgerton (2 goals) chased by Sami Cavanaugh

Bella Pomeroy makes a save

Maggie Pons

Maggie Pons attacks

Liberty Palermino

Bridget Lane

Sam King checked by Christina Calandra

Sam King shoots as Drew Charlton defends

 

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Pitching and power earns Portland its first Eastern League win

Darwinzon Hernandez struck out ten Reading batters in only five innings.

Bobby Dalbec and Jantzen Witte supplied the power for the Sea Dogs

Shortstop CJ Chatham

(Portland ME) The Portland Sea Dogs broke into the win column this afternoon defeating the Reading Fightin Phils, 6-0.

Winning pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez (1-0) struck out the side in the first inning and had ten K’s before he was finished after five innings.

Bobby Dalbec and Jantzen Witte were the hitting stars for Portland with nearly duplicate stats: three hits including a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored.

Reading (3-1) featured three former first-round picks: Cornelius Randolph (2015), Mickey Moniak (2016), and Adam Haseley (2017).

Mickey and Adam were in action today.  Both struggled to make contact…….Mickey (4 K’s), Adam (3 K’s).

Mickey Moniak

The weather was extremely cooperative for early April in Maine; temperatures in the high 50’s with no wind.

Chris Cameron told me pre-game that tomorrow (Monday) 1”-2” of snow is expected.  Now that’s more like it!

Portland (1-3) is a quick drive for me from Amesbury (MA) and I enjoy getting looks at the future stars of the Red Sox.  You can never be certain of who those stars will be.  I have pictures of Jackie Bradley and Travis Shaw when they were in Portland, but they weren’t highly touted in Double A.

Bobby Dalbec is, however, highly regarded by the Red Sox and I saw him reach Portland at the end of last season.  How long the power hitter will last at Portland is part of why I took an early run to Hadlock Field to see him while I could.

In today’s game Bobby ripped a homer over the left-field fence.

Playing third probably won’t get Bobby to the majors with Rafael Devers locked in there.  I’m thinking that first base would be a better spot for him.

Bobby Dalbec crosses home

Darwinzon Hernandez was signed by Boston in 2013 when he was 16-years-old.  From Venezuela, the left missed plenty of bats in his overpowering, 2-hit, afternoon.

Darwinzon could well be the first one off the Portland roster and onto the Pawtucket roster.

Newcomer CJ Chatham was the Sea Dogs shortstop.  He and Bobby Dalbec were both chosen by Boston in 2016.

I was definitely interested in getting pictures of the Phillies first-round picks.  Outfielder Mickey Moniak was actually the first pick in the entire draft in 2016.  He’s only twenty so there is plenty of time for him to move up in the Philadelphia system.

I love the atmosphere at Hadlock.  I think it’s because so many families show up.  You see kids with gloves, excited to be where “real” baseball is going on.

And there’s also family-friendly entertainment between every inning.  The between-inning contests often involve youngsters and are skillfully handled by the Sea Dogs staff.

A key piece of entertainment for me will always be Slugger’s race around the bases against a young fan.  I may be the only one that still believes that the big guy will win.

Today’s race was yet another disappointing one.  I had seen the promos of Slugger in the off-season.  I saw him doing back flips and splits and assumed that he was ready to get a win.

Today I thought that Slugger was way too kind to his young opponent. How so?  The youngster thought that the race ended at first base.  Instead of taking advantage, the big guy waited, giving the kid a chance to get guidance.  Then when they met at second, Slugger pointed to where the kid should run next!  All this helping turned today’s race into a last-base event and Slugger looked as if he was in great position to end the losing streak.  But then his lack of practice running did him in.  Slugger rounded first, heading home, and suddenly lurched into a bent-over stop. I thought he might lose his lunch.  While Slugger’s digestive disaster happened, his opponent leaped onto home place, the winner.

My assumption that Slugger was in running shape was obviously misguided.  It’s a long season and maybe he’ll get his second wind or at least lighten up on the pre-race food intake.

Adam Haseley

It must have happened on the recommendation of a photographer: both teams had numbers on the front of their uniforms as well as the backs.  Everyday photographers know the players by their faces.  The rest of us don’t.

I spoke with two people I follow on Twitter; Kevin Thomas (Portland Press Herald) and Kelley O’Connor (minor-league photographer).

I highly recommend a visit to Hadlock.  Affordable with an early viewing of some possible future major leaguers.

Two close plays at second:

Luke Tendler tagged by Jose Antequera

Tate Matheny tagged by Luke Williams

Thanks, as always, to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

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

Bobby Dalbec

Chris Cameron

CJ Chatham

Joseph Monge and coach Angel Sanchez

Sea Dogs dugout

Tate Matheny caught in a rundown

Brett Netzer and CJ Chatham

 

 

 

 

 

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Flannery O’Connor (24 points) drives Amesbury past Lynnfield 65-50

Flannery O’Connor (24 points) surrounded by Pioneers

Alli Napoli double-teamed

(Haverhill MA) There had been six lead changes and seven ties.

Then senior Flannery O’Connor took over in the third quarter.

The Cape Ann League All-Star engineered a run of nine unanswered points and a slim one-point lead (36-35) moved to a breathing-room 45-35 score.

The second-half surge of points was too much for foul-prone Lynnfield to overcome and they fell to (18-4) Amesbury 65-50 on Wednesday night at Whittier.

“We hung around for three quarters,” said Lynnfield coach Peter Bocchino afterwards.  “We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”

The Pioneers (14-9) did get within eight (51-43) with 5 ½ minutes to go in the game.

Ciara Sullivan

But then junior Alli Napoli set up teammate Ciara Sullivan for consecutive three’s and Amesbury’s double-digit spread was restored for good.

Tori Morelli and Cate MacDonald

Continuous fouling by both teams ruined any chance for patterned offense to be on display.  There were plenty of one-on-one’s which turned up fouls or layups.

Alli Napoli (Amesbury) and Tori Morelli (Lynnfield) were both in early foul trouble and on their respective benches for much of the first half.

The missing twosome were usually steadying influences on their teams and without them, the play was often ragged in the first half.

“I liked the way that the girls stayed composed with Alli out most of the first half,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos.

Amesbury had a six-point lead (23-17) with two minutes left in the half but a three by freshman Riley Hallahan and a layup by Grace Klonsky and Lynnfield was back tight, 23-22, at the half.

Amesbury was 19-for-27 from the foul line

The Pioneers had a four-point lead (29-25) three minutes into the second half but two free throws by Alli Napoli and a layup by Flannery O’Connor, that Alli assisted on, and the teams were tied.

Three free throws by Melissa Morelli (14 points) had Lynnfield within one (36-35) with only three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

This was when Flannery took over and led AHS to separation.  Part of the nine-point run was a triple (McKenna Hallinin) set up by Flannery.

Lynnfield played a zone defense and Amesbury struggled to get open looks.

“They were playing a zone,” said Flannery afterwards.  “Moving the ball makes that defense work.  I try to find cracks and dive into them.”

Faced with tight coverage whenever she touched the ball, Flannery was quick to find open teammates.

McKenna Hallinan looks to the hoop

The Hallinan twins (Avery and McKenna) brought energy, points, and defense.  The two freshmen helped carry the scoring load for the Indians in the first half.

Avery ended the game with twelve points while McKenna totaled nine.

Freshman Cate MacDonald tallied twelve points for LHS.  “Our freshman (Cate) came to play tonight,” said Coach Bocchino.  “She got a learning experience.”

I was impressed with the ball-handling of sophomore Grace Klonsky.  Several times she took the ball the full length of the court for a score.

Amesbury will now face St. Mary’s (Lynn) at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday.  The Spartans had a decisive win over Amesbury during the regular season.

Lynnfield had two easy tourney wins before facing Amesbury in the D3 North semifinals.  The Pioneers downed Charlestown 53-9 and Greater Lawrence 69-43.

Peter Bocchino was the CAL coach-of-the-year.

Mary Bullis and Riley Hallahan

Lynnfield had been 5-52 over the previous three seasons.

The Pioneers tourney win over Charlestown was their first since 2009.

Despite missing most of the first half, Alli Napoli finished with eleven points.

The Pioneers missed thirteen free throws.

Amesbury box

Lynnfield box

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

McKenna Hallinan

Alli Napoli

Alli Napoli moves into an open space

Caroline Waisnor sets to receive a pass

Flannery O’Connor in traffic

Grace Klonsky

Grace Klonsky and McKenna Hallinan

Melissa Morelli and Avery Hallinan

 

 

 

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On to the D2 North finals for Pentucket after 52-28 win over Swampscott

Pentucket double-team

MacKenzie Currie had ten points off the bench for Pentucket

(Haverhill MA) Fouls were a problem for Pentucket in the first half but that didn’t prevent the Sachems from defeating Swampscott, 52-28, on Tuesday night at Whittier.

The win sends Pentucket (21-3) to the Division 2 North finals at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday to face the winner of the Tewksbury/Melrose game.

For part of the second quarter, Maddie Doyle was the only Pentucket starter on the floor.  Angelica Hurley, Angelina Yacubacci, and Jess Galvin each had two fouls while Liv Cross had an injury.

On this evening the Sachems reserves were crucial contributors.  “Z (MacKenzie Currie) gave us points,” said Coach John McNamara. “Anna (Wyner) covered their best player, and Arielle (Cleveland) was good on both ends.”

Angelina Yacubacci (15 points) between Nikki Rosa (15) and Sophia DiGrande (5)

Instead of Swampscott taking advantage of Pentucket’s foul woes, they instead fell behind, 15-5, after one quarter.

“Pentucket is a very, very tough team,” said Swampscott coach Katelyn Leonard afterwards.  “We just couldn’t find the basket.”

The personnel for the Sachems may have changed but the effective defense didn’t.  Their full-court pressure often forced turnovers and hurried shots.

“Defense is what we focus most on in practice,” said senior Maddi Doyle.  “Everyone wants their chance to play run-and-jump.”

The Big Blue (16-6) were only down 26-16 at the half.  Make some shots and things could get interesting.

“I told the team at halftime,” said Coach McNamara, “that they had to settle down and play better defense.”  And that is what they did.

Maddi Doyle uses a Liv Cross screen

The starters applied their tight brand of defense with few fouls, while down the other end the points started to pile up.  Angelina Yacubacci (15 points) had a triple and two free throws while teammate Maddi Doyle added a layup and a triple to pace the Sachems in the breakaway third quarter.

That 10-point halftime lead bulged to 39-22 and the #1 seed coasted through the final quarter.

Coach Leonard: “Pentucket didn’t do anything we didn’t expect.  They just execute so well.  It’s one thing to know something is coming. It’s another thing to stop it.”

Maddi Doyle: “Surprisingly, I wasn’t in foul trouble.  I’m usually the first one on the bench with fouls.  Kids came off the bench and stepped up.  It shows the depth we have.”

Sophie DiGrande shoots against Liv Cross

Coach McNamara: “We were anxious at the start.  It took a whole half for us to be playing defense the way we wanted to. In the second half, we played defense without all the fouling.”

Arielle Cleveland: “Our team is deep.  I had more playing time and tried to contribute any way I could.”

Maddi Doyle told me after the game that she wants to go to the College of Charleston in South Carolina in the fall and study physical therapy.

Senior Grace DiGrande paced SHS with eleven points.

Sophomore MacKenzie Currie had ten points for Pentucket.

Swampscott’s Nikki Rosa is going to play basketball for Roger Williams next year.

Katie Watts is going to go to Endicott to play softball.

MacKenzie Kearney and Sophie DiGrande

The Big Blue reached the semifinals by defeating North Reading 49-47.  Nikki had nineteen points and twelve rebounds against the Hornets.

Maddie Doyle: “I would rather play defense than anything.  When we’re trapping it does things to other teams.”

The Sachems are three wins away from a state title. “We were so close (state semifinals) last year,” said Maddie.  “I want to just keep going forward.”

Pentucket box

Swampscott box

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

Angelica Hurley and Nikki Rosa

Angelica Hurley in the open

Anna Wyner guarded by Katie Watts

Jess Galvin

Katie Watts

loose ball

Maddie Doyle brings pressure to Sophie DiGrande

Sophie DiGrande tries to get the ball back from Angelina Yacubacci

Nikki Rosa and Angelica Hurley

 

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Bri Jordan leads Gray-New Gloucester to Class B title over Mount Desert Island

Bri Jordan (15 points) cuts between Alexis Clarito and Rachelle Swanson

Class B ending

Mandy Candage and Bri Jordan battle

(Portland ME) The Mount Desert Island band was incredible………..but I digress.

Senior Bri Jordan put Gray-New Gloucester in front with a triple midway through the first quarter and the Patriots were on their way to a, 43-30, Class B championship at the Cross Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Bri was the star for (20-2) GNG.  She finished with fifteen points and eleven rebounds and was huge in the tense part of the fourth quarter when the Trojans (19-3) were within four (34-30) with 3:53 to go.

The MDI offense went totally dry the rest of the way.

Tight defense by Samantha Fortin on Olivia Gray.

“When we got within four, they hunkered down defensively,” said MDI coach Brent Barker afterwards.  “We had some decent shots but just couldn’t make them.”

“Our defense was very good today,” said GNG coach Mike Andreasen.  “To hold a strong team like MDI to thirty points is very good.  Our offense came-and-went but our defense was consistently solid.”

A key matchup was Bri Jordan limiting Maddy Candage to only four points.

The Patriots’ offense not only missed a lot of shots, but they also turned the ball over at least twenty times.

“Our turnovers today hurt us,” said Coach Barker.  “They capitalized on some of them.”

The team from Gray had a ten-point lead (32-22) early in the final quarter after a Bri Jordan layup.

Alexis Clarito cuts between Alexa Thayer and Bri Jordan

Credit the team from Bar Harbor.  They didn’t pack it in.  Instead, the Trojans put together their best collection of offense of the day.  Four free throws (Mandy Candage), and layups by Rachelle Swanson and Alexis Clarito in a three-minute stretch and suddenly we had ourselves a ballgame!

But credit Gray-New Gloucester.  They tossed a shutout the rest of the way and scored nine points.

“When they (MDI) got close we tried not to focus on the scoreboard,” explained senior Alexa Thayer.

“MDI never quits,” said Coach Andreasen. “They have four senior starters.  Luckily, we withstood their best shot.  It was pretty special.”

Jordan Grant had ten points for the Patriots. “We came out strong knowing that it would be a hard game.  They are a good matchup for us.  We had to play as a team and play to our advantages.”

Jordan Grant (10 points)

GNG had noticeable height advantages with Bri Jordan and Jordan Grant.  “We’re not a huge team,” said Coach Barker.  “Sometimes you can’t defend height.”

This was the Patriots second title in the last three years.  “It’s an unbelievable feeling to win a championship,” said junior Jordan Grant.  “My freshman year was the same way.  It’s a feeling that you never want to stop happening.”

Coach Barker: “We tried to key defensively on two players (Bri Jordan & Jordan Grant) and force some other players to beat us.  Those other players stepped up.”

Bri Jordan (commit to St. Joseph’s): “To be able to work with teammates and pull this off is awesome.”

Alexa Thayer: “It is so exciting.  Being a senior, it’s really special to see my teammates come together like this.”

Alexa told me that she is going to attend Husson in the fall and major in occupational therapy.

Then there’s that MDI band!  Those folks could play and everyone at Cross Arena on this afternoon would agree with me.

Gray-New Gloucester box

Mount Desert Island box

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

Alexa Thayer and Olivia Gray on the ball

Alexis Clarito out on fouls

Eliza Hotham passes

Leah Carroll

GNG presented with the gold ball

GNG raises the trophy

Hannah Chamberlain steal

Julia Watras looks to the hoop guarded by Jordan Grant

Mandy Candage guarded by Bri Jordan

MDI band

Trojan turnover

GNG with the gold ball

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Late triple by Dracut knocks Newburyport out 57-54

Dracut celebrates the win

Mitch Monette’s pass led to the winning basket

(Newburyport MA) Freshman Adrian Torres delivered the shot Dracut needed to advance to the Division 3 North semifinals.

Adrian (16 points) took an excellent feed from Mitch Monette and swished a 3-pointer in the closing seconds from in front of the Middies crowd to give #12 Dracut a 57-54 upset win over #4 Newburyport on Friday night.

The Clippers (18-4) nearly got even in those closing seconds but Ryan Archie’s triple rimmed out.

George Coryell (11 points) defends Adrian Torres (16 points)

“Adrian shoots like that every day in practice,” said senior Mitch Monette afterwards. “I was confident that he would make it.”

The Middies (12-10) will face either Arlington Catholic or St. Mary’s in the next round.

Newburyport had a nine-point lead in the first half while Dracut was ahead by four in the second half.  But those leads didn’t hold up.

The Clippers led 12-10 after one period.  At halftime, the teams were even, 27-27. The third quarter ended with Newburyport in front, 40-39.  In the final quarter, the scored was tied, 54-54, with 1 ½ minutes remaining.

Neither team could gain separation.  The Middies were hurt by foul trouble while the Clippers missed fifteen free throws.

It came down to the final ninety seconds and the five possessions that filled them.

Newburyport sought the perfect shot and ended up with a shot-clock violation.

Ryan Archie guarded by Tyler Guerriero

Ryan Archie’s tight defense forced a bad Dracut pass.

George Coryell missed a shot.  Jake Robertson got the rebound but traveled.

This was the lead-in to Adrian’s game winner.  Mitch Monette (12 points) had been able to get to the basket, so when he looked to be about to come down the lane the Clippers defense sagged in to stop it.  But instead of shooting, Mitch tossed a jump-pass to his left to a wide-open Adrian Torres who didn’t miss.

“That freshman, he’s something else,” said senior Cam McCullough.  “I’m not surprised he made it because he does it every day in practice even when I’m guarding him!”

“We wanted to spread the court and see what turned up,” said Dracut coach Brian Myers about his team’s last possession.

Ball on the floor

The Clippers did have a chance to tie the game and came close. George Coryell tossed a full-court pass to Jake Robertson, who was fouled.  I suspect that the plan was for Jake to make the first shot and then miss the second hoping a rebound could produce a 2-point play for the tie.  Instead, Jake missed the first one.  The second shot was then missed intentionally and Harry Bovee was able to flip the rebound out to Ryan Archie, beyond the arc.  Against Swampscott, Ryan hit that shot.  Not tonight and the celebrating began for the Middies.

Coach Brian Myers said that playing in the tough Merrimack Valley Conference helped them.  “We play tight games like tonight’s every game in that league.”

The gymnasium was packed.  Many ended up standing around the perimeter.

Casey McLaren (21 points) chased by Jean Carlos Santiago

Casey McLaren (21 points) became Newburyport’s all-time leading scorer.  He passed Rachel Wile tonight to do it.

Casey scored all fifteen of Newburyport’s points in the second quarter.

Casey got those 15 points in the first six minutes of the second quarter giving NHS a 27-20 lead.  However, the last two minutes belonged to the visitors.  A layup be Cam McCullough and a triple and two free throws by Adrian Torres earned Dracut a halftime tie.

“Coming back from the nine-point deficit was key,” said Coach Myers.  “We showed that we could stay with them.”

After Dracut took a 3-point lead on Will Peters’ layup with 2:18 left in the game it was the Clippers’ turn to rally back.  A rebound conversion by Ryan Archie and a Casey McLaren free throw knotted things at 54.

Will Peters shoots against Parker McLaren

George Coryell & Parker McLaren each collected eleven points for NHS.

Mitch Monette added twelve points for Dracut.

That Dracut is even in the tournament is a story in and of itself.  The Middies had 1-19 seasons the last two years.  They were not only defeated a lot but often defeated by lopsided scores.  But along came Coach Brian Myers.  Brian said afterwards that he’s “a Dracut guy.”  After coaching successfully at Lowell, Brian opted to come back to coach the school he attended.  He said that he “saw potential.”

“It takes a group of kids buying into a system.  We work hard every day.”

Despite the team’s lack of size, they were able to hold their own against larger Casey McLaren and his brother Parker.  Casey had only three points in the second half.

Cam McCullough was in awe of the setting: “It was the loudest environment I’ve ever played in.  It was a great game to be part of.”

Newburyport box

Dracut box

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

Adrian Torres (16 points)

Cam McCullough

Casey McLaren chases a loose ball

Casey McLaren shoots a free throw

Discussing how to defend their 3-point lead

Dracut coach Brian Myers checks on his bench

Farai Zuvarokoka and Jake Robertson

Jake Robertson from the corner

Jean Carlos Santiago shoots a floater over Harry Bovee

Mitch Monette and Trevor Ward

Season ends for the Clippers

 

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