Monthly Archives: March 2019

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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Pentucket advances to D2 North semi-finals with 61-34 win versus Wilmington

Kylie DuCharme brings the ball up the court against Pentucket pressure

Maddi Doyle guards Jenna Tavanese

(West Newbury MA) “No amount of scouting can help you against that kind of defense.”

That was what Wilmington coach Jessica Robinson said after her Wildcats fell to Pentucket, 61-34, in the Division 2 North quarter-finals on Thursday night.

The Sachems (20-3) move on to the semi-finals on Tuesday night against #4 Swampscott at Whittier.

The top-seed hounded #8 Wilmington into twenty-five turnovers and kept the Wildcats from functioning smoothly on offense for much of the game.

“We work hard on defense,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “They had a couple of very good players and so we had to key on them.”

Jenna Tavanese (2) paced Wilmington with fifteen points.

One of those players was junior Jenna Tavanese (15 points).  Jenna hit two 3’s and Olivia Almeida added another during 1 ½ minutes of the first quarter.  That burst of great shooting propelled the visitors into a, 9-4, lead with three minutes left in that quarter.  Sophomore Kylie DuCharme assisted in all three triples.

“We were definitely nervous in the early going,” explained Pentucket senior Jess Galvin afterwards.  “We were getting used to the crowd.”

Once the team from the Cape Ann League settled in, the Wildcats were in trouble.  The Sachems trapping stymied the offensive flow of Wilmington and when Pentucket’s offense began to click, this game turned in their favor.

Pentucket answered the Wilmington 3’s with two of their own (Anna Wyner & Angelina Yacubacci) plus a layup from Angelina (17 points).

The Sachems led 12-11 after one quarter.

Full-court pressure by Pentucket.

The home team took the lead for good early in the second quarter after Liv Cross converted a rebound and teammate Maddi Doyle drained a three.

Jess Galvin (10 points)

Up by two (17-15) three minutes into the 2nd quarter, the Sachems put a 10-2 segment together (featuring 3’s from MacKenzie Currie and Jess Galvin) and the spread rose to double digits (28-17).

Pentucket led, 33-22 at the half.

“We hung in there with them for a while,” said Coach Robinson, “but we ran out of offensive gas.”

Credit the persistent Pentucket pressure with wearing down the team from the Middlesex League.

Gabby Bond gets a shot

“Our main focus is defense,” said Jess Galvin.  “Coach has said all four years that defense wins games and I agree.”

The Wildcats (12-9) were able to draw within ten (38-28) after Jenna Tavanese hit a three and made a free throw with 3:25 to go in the third quarter.

Thereafter it was all Pentucket.

“We gave up a lot of easy baskets in the first half,” said Coach McNamara, “we did much better defensively in the second half.”

Wilmington scored two baskets in the last minute of the game.  Other than that, the Sachems turned their ten-point lead (38-28) into a 59-30 spread.  That’s a 21-2 segment!

Jess Galvin (10 points) led the Pentucket surge.  She had a beyond-the-arc three, an old-fashioned three, and a free throw.

Cassidy Collins defends

“We work hard in practice,” said Jess.  “Coach gets all the offenses and defenses that the other teams play, and we just execute against them.  Coach always changes things up so that teams won’t know what’s coming.”

One of the key Pentucket defenders was junior Angelica Hurley.  Angelica scored only two points but her defense on sophomore Kylie DuCharme (4 points) was significant.

“Angelica did a great job defensively,” explained Coach McNamara.  “She sacrificed her offensive game to play defense like that.  It is what you have to do in the tournament to advance.”

Coach Robinson: “We were hoping to keep this game in the 30’s and 40’s because then we could hang with them offensively, but it got out of hand for us.”

Maddi Doyle under pressure

Jess Galvin: “I’m looking at UMass Amherst next year.  I am going to try and play basketball there.  I want to study sports business.”

Former Sachem Tess Noguiera was in the house.  She was part of the Pentucket state championship team in 2012.  From Pentucket she went to WPI where she was also on a championship team.  She now works at Raytheon.

Good crowd.  Bleachers were added to the bench side of the gym.

Pentucket box

Wilmington box

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

Angelica Hurley, Kylie DuCharme, Jenna Tavanese

Angelica Hurley with a steal

Anne Wingate (10)

Arielle Cleveland in the open court

Double-team by Pentucket

Kylie DuCharme finds Gabby Bond (44)

Tight defense by Angelica Hurley on Kylie DuCharme

 

 

 

 

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