(Newburyport MA) I had to check my calendar when I arrived at this game.
It wasn’t March but there was definitely a tournament buzz in the room.
However, it doesn’t need to be March when it’s a Triton/Newburyport game.
Last March the two teams had a down-to-the-last-shot Division 3 North quarterfinals get-together in the same building. Newburyport won that game.
In December of last year, the Clippers defeated Triton, 63-57.
That win streak continued tonight as Newburyport (10-3) prevailed, 57-50, on Friday night in Cape Ann League action.
Ryan Archie (nine points) started the scoring with a 3-pointer for NHS and the Clippers never trailed.
The Vikings (4-8) looked done late in the third quarter when a three by freshman Jacob Robertson boosted the Clippers margin to fourteen points (43-29).
Triton was down but not out. They scored the next ten points and they did it in a hurry. In one minute of playing time, the visitors from Byfield, put that ten-spot together. Kyle Odoy ended the 3rd quarter with a layup and then picked off an inbounds pass and put in two more. Junior Dylan Shute contributed an old-fashioned 3-point play and then Will Parsons nailed one from beyond the arc.
All of that successful offense moved Triton to within four (43-39) with nearly 7 ½ minutes left in the game.
Newburyport, however, had an answer and his name was McLaren. If you weren’t there, you’re thinking Casey. But not on this night. Casey didn’t score a point in the final quarter. It was Parker doing the heavy lifting.
Parker went off for seven straight points while the Vikings had four turnovers. That individual excellence gave NHS an eleven-point lead (50-39) with 5 ½ minutes remaining.
Play out the string? Game over? Not yet.
Triton, led by Will Parsons’ seven points and a layup by Jesse Wilkinson, got the Newburyport lead down to four (54-50) with 1 ½ minutes to go.
“We had our opportunities,” said Triton coach EJ Perry afterwards. “It was 54-50 and we had an offensive rebound, but we didn’t get the putback.”
That missed chance put the ball back in Newburyport’s possession. A deflected shot ended up in the hands of Parker McLaren and he converted the rebound into points (his 11th of the quarter) and the Clippers won their tenth and qualified for the state tournament.
For the Vikings the road to qualifying is steep. “We’ll keep getting better,” said Coach Perry, “that’s all we can do.”
Coach Dave Clay praised the work of Harry Bovee guarding Will Parsons: “He knew that his role was strictly defense on Will. He did a phenomenal job.”
Will ended up with seventeen points, but his only open shots were in warmups.
Casey McLaren finished with sixteen points. He had four 3’s including several from in front of the Triton student section.
“Everything on offense goes through Will (Parsons),” explained Coach Perry. “They did a pretty good job on him.”
Will (averaging 24.8 points per game) not only faced one defender but plenty of support defense was nearby.
“We came out with a lot of positive energy,” said Coach Clay. “We remained positive even after they made runs and that was the key to the win.”
The crowd was remarkable. “It was a great environment,” said Coach Clay.
Excellent crowd control in place to make sure no one from either side spoiled it for others. On one occasion, the Triton student section chanted something, and one NHS student responded inappropriately. Next thing I saw was the student leaving with AD Kyle Hodsdon. The AD returned but the student didn’t. End of problem.
Newburyport was 19-3 last year. Triton was 15-8.
I talked to Dylan Shute before the game. Dylan took the last Triton shot, from along the baseline, in the tourney loss last March. He told me, “I think about that shot a lot.”
Ryan Archies’ three 3’s gives him twenty-five 3-pointers for the season.
Casey McLaren had twenty-four points in the first meeting with Triton. Freshman Kyle Odoy had twenty for Triton.
(All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)