(Newburyport) On a night when their offense was anything but perfect, Pentucket continued perfect (3-0) with a, 41-28, struggle at Newburyport (1-2) on Monday night.
The Sachems in-your-face, full-court defensive approach paid its usual dividends in the early going. For the first 10 ½ minutes the visitors forced thirteen turnovers and 2-for-13 shooting from the Clippers.
Pentucket tallied the first nine points (Vanessa Cahill-4, Nicole Viselli-5) before Newburyport answered with jumpers from Haley Johnson and Sam Leahy.
The Sachems followed with ten unanswered points (Leigh McNamara-1, Tess Nogueira-2, Sarah Higgins-4, Alyssa Nogueira-3) and had the breakout lead (19-4) that they seem to get against most Cape Ann League opponents in recent years.
Newburyport trailed at the half, 24-11.
For seven minutes of the third quarter the Clippers mauled the Sachems defensively. In a game of give-and-take they were dishing out the “gives.” And Pentucket was clearly rattled. The Sachems had only one point (Vanessa Cahill free throw) to show for twelve possessions with turnovers in seven of those possessions!
But the Sachem defense during the same segment only allowed two Sam Leahy baskets. So despite the stretch of bad offense, Pentucket still led 25-15 with 1 ½ minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
This game got away from Newburyport during the next two minutes of playing time. Pentucket went on a 10-0 run and the Clippers didn’t have the scoring firepower or the time to recover.
Victoria Castiglione put in a three off the backboard and then Nicole Viselli took over. In the last minute of the 3rd she hit a three and two free throws. She started the 4th quarter by assisting on Leigh McNamara’s layup.
Later Nicole assisted on Tess Nogueira’s layup, followed with an old-fashioned three-point play, and closed with a free throw. At this juncture, with 4:20 left Pentucket was up 41-19. They didn’t score again and the Pentucket backups yielded the last nine points of the game.
Sam Leahy paced Newburyport with 14 points including 12 in the second half.
Nicole Viselli ended with 16 points and was very important in the second half after Newburyport closed to ten points.
It was apparent early on that Pentucket was intent on denying Beth Castantini (18 points vs. Amesbury last game) the ball. Tess Nogueira and Leigh McNamara combined to hold Beth to 4 points and believe me, things got pretty rugged in the process.
The shooting by both teams was anything but pretty. Newburyport never made a three and ended up 11-for-51 (21%). Pentucket was 3-for-14 on three’s and 13-for-58 (22%) overall. The Sachems were also a scary 10-for-25 from the foul line.
I continue to think that the stat that makes Pentucket successful is turnovers. I wonder when the last time was that they lost that battle. This time Newburyport had 30 while Pentucket had 18. However, despite the turnover disparity Pentucket didn’t get as many pick-layups out of the turnovers, as they generally do. Credit the willingness of Newburyport to get back fast, after a giveaway, for limiting breakaway Sachem shots.
There was a memorable moment in this game for me. I was sitting under the basket scripting the game in the second half and occasionally taking pictures when I could. A gentleman standing nearby yells to me that I can’t scout that way. I try to ignore him because I’m trying to script the game so that I can write this game up for this blog. I’m guessing he’s a Pentucket parent mistaking me for a scout for a future opponent (Masco? Ipswich?). He did end up with the name of this blog but I didn’t end up with any sort of apology from him for his unnecessary outburst. Maybe after he reads this coverage I’ll get an apologizing email at 85peterjulie17 at gmail dot com.
(I keep my own stats, take my own pictures, and provide my own opinions. Any mistakes are unintentional.)