(Newburyport MA) This had the feel of a tournament game.
Close, tense, free throws, last shot, and jumping around in celebration for the winners.
It was the Clippers (16-3) enjoying the happy ending as they defeated a very good Beverly team, 60-57, on Monday night.
“It was an excellent high school basketball game from start to finish,” said Beverly coach Matt Karakoudas afterwards.
Senior Toskany Abreu (29 points) had a monster game for the Panthers (10-6). The BHS guard was able to get into the lane most of the time for layups despite an assortment of Newburyport defenders trying to stop him.
NHS coach Dave Clay was impressed: “We were trying somehow to stop #3 (Toskany Abreu). He was terrific. We tried everything; zone, man-to-man, face guard, diamond-and-one.”
The visitors from the Northeastern Conference took a one-point lead (57-56) into the final 2 ½ minutes after Toskany hit two free throws.
Beverly wouldn’t score another point.
“The key to this win was our effort,” said Coach Clay. “I love what we brought to the table.”
Parker McLaren (15 points) finished an eight-point quarter with a jump shot in the lane assisted by Ryan Archie to put the Clippers in front 58-57 with 1:54 remaining.
Both teams then traded turnovers and Beverly had the ball back with thirty seconds left. After the way things had gone all night, it wasn’t hard to imagine Toskany getting the shot in the crucial possession.
But that’s not what happened. Harry Bovee defended Toskany well enough so that he gave the ball up. Teammate Micah Davies tried a pass to Marje Mulumba under the basket that was high and wide.
Beverly quickly fouled Casey McLaren and the pre-game honoree rattled two free throws in to increase the NHS lead to 60-57 with twenty-three seconds left. Still plenty of time for Beverly to tie it.
Again, I imagined Toskany doing something but the Clippers defense forced the ball out of his hands. Instead, senior Micah Davies attempted to tie the game with a three over Parker McLaren. It rimmed out, Newburyport secured the rebound, and the celebrating soon followed.
Beverly build up a 10-point lead in the second quarter (27-17) putting a 13-2 run together. Contributors were; Micah Davies, Marje Mulumba, Toskany Abreu, Jack Crowley, and Kyle Camara.
The Clippers used the final 2 ½ minutes of that second quarter to erase most of their deficit. Casey McLaren’s long-range, buzzer-beater had NHS within three (29-26) going into the second half.
Casey ended up with fourteen points.
“Toskany played very, very well,” said Coach Karakoudas. “We needed to give him a little more help in scoring. Give credit to Newburyport and Coach Clay because they did an excellent job on our big man, Jack Crowley. They limited him to ten points which is below his norm. Jack still did very well but they did a good job focusing on him.”
The Clippers controlled the first period while the Panthers controlled the second period. The second half was small leads, ties, and back-and-forth.
“What more could you ask for as a fan?” asked Coach Karakoudas afterwards. “I could ask for a win, but the fans had to love it!”
Nice crowd on hand including a collection of Pentucket players. The Sachems won a big one from Newburyport on Friday night.
Casey McLaren was honored pre-game by state representative James Kelcourse for reaching 1000 points.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)