Monthly Archives: January 2020

Triton holds off Pentucket 62-52 – Mason Ferrick 22 points

TJ Overbaugh (11 points) in the air in the lane

Battle under the basket

(West Newbury MA) Both teams were missing two captains.

Both teams were on losing streaks.

Triton fared best in this crucial outing for both squads and defeated Pentucket, 62-52, on Friday night.

The noise during the game was at tournament level.

It was Senior Night.  Kids played at halftime and there was a heavily-involved band.  To say the least, there was a lot going on.

Mason Ferrick (22 points)

The Vikings (8-7) led by senior Mason Ferrick (22 points) started fast and never trailed.

Sparked by thirteen of Mason’s points, Triton was ahead, 28-12, halfway through the second quarter.

“We were missing several key players,” said Mason, “and coach said that I had to pick up some of the slack on offense and that is what I did.”

Pentucket coach Ed Hickey cited the bad start as crucial: “We dug ourselves too deep a hole early in the game.”

The Sachems (5-9) were still in double-digit trouble early in the final quarter trailing, 43-30.

Thereafter, the struggling Pentucket offense, which had put up seven points, thirteen points, and ten points in the previous three periods, came to life.

Silas Bucco (13 points)

Silas Bucco (13 points) and Sam Stys (11 points) led the charge for the Sachems.

A rebound basket (Sam) and a layup and a three (Silas) and suddenly the home team was within reach of the Vikings, 43-37, with six minutes left.

With all the noise and excitement in the building you suspected that the Vikings might fold into a tight finish.  Your suspicions would have been wrong on this evening.

Every time the Sachems got within six, and they did it four more times (45-39, 47-41, 51-45, 57-61), the Vikings handled the pressure and pushed the lead back up.

Mason Ferrick and fellow senior TJ Overbaugh (11 points) led the Triton resistance each of the final four times.  TJ made free throws while Mason converted a rebound, hit a jump shot, and assisted on a last-minute layin by junior Brendan Dennis.

Credit Pentucket for continuing to come back.  “Pentucket kids don’t quit,” said Coach Hickey.

Peter Lopata and Silas Bucco trap TJ Overbaugh

“It was a great team effort,” said Coach Ted Schruender post-game.  “We had guys step up with key guys injured.  We had big games from TJ and Mason.”

“We tried making a push at the end,” said Sachems coach Ed Hickey.  “Whenever it seemed like the momentum was swinging our way, we’d miss a shot or foul or have a turnover.  The kids played hard.  We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

TJ Overbaugh: “We played well.  We came out and did what we had to do.”

The Pentucket losing streak now reaches eight after a very promising start to this season.  The Sachems were 19-3 last season.

The Vikings ended a three-game losing streak.

“We’ve got five more games left,” said Mason Ferrick.  “Two wins will get us into the tournament.  If we win more than that we might get a higher seed in the tournament.”

The Pentucket band impressed me.  The kids could play, and they were astute and organized enough to play only when the teams on the floor weren’t playing.

Triton box

Pentucket box

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

Silas Bucco  in the lane

Sam Stys (11 points)

Nolan O’Neil

Nicholas Dupuis and Chase Dwight

Mason Ferrick waits to inbounds

Mason Ferrick (18 points) in the lane

Loose ball

Dylan Wilkinson (12 points) looks for someone to pass to

Brendan Dennis at the line

Tight Triton defense

TJ Overbaugh

Silas Bucco and TJ Overbaugh

 

 

 

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Governors Academy defeats Groton School 79-71 – Will Batchelder 28 points

Will Batchelder (28 points) dribbles out of trouble

Nate Salander (25 points) for Groton

(Byfield MA) Governors Academy was playing their third game in four days…….and it showed.

“We looked like a young, tired team out there,” said Govs coach Michael Shelton afterwards.

But the Govs were able to pull themselves together enough to catch and hold off Groton, 79-71, on Saturday afternoon.

Will Batchelder led Governors (10-5) with twenty-eight points.

Nate Salander paced the Zebras (5-8) with twenty-five.

Drew Sachs (10 points)

“We had two good days of practice and we executed the game plan,” said Groton coach Harold Francis.  “Sometimes it doesn’t show on the scoreboard.”

Early on the scoreboard confirmed that the Zebras had come to play.  They had a 27-22 lead with four minutes left in the first half after a Rami Hahami (14 points) layup.

The Govs followed with their best collection of offense in the entire game.  They put twelve unanswered points in place and 2 ½ minutes later were ahead, 34-27.

Will Batchelder started the scoring streak with an end-to-end drive.  Three’s by Drew Sachs (10 points) and Will followed.  Holden Symonds (18 points) added a layup and John Gorgol made two free throws.

Coach Shelton mixed in a zone defense during his team’s run of nice offense.

Govs coach Michael Shelton

“We thought that by changing the tempo we could force them to shoot from outside,” said Coach Shelton, “and steal a few possessions.”

The Zebras tallied the only points the rest of the half and trailed only 32-30.

In the second half the teams were tied twice early on before Governors took the lead for good.

The Govs broke from a 39-39 tie with a run of seven straight points.  A jumper by Kalu Anya (10 points) started it.  Drew Sachs then drained a three assisted by Will Batchelder.  Prettiest play of the game may have been what happened next.  A Groton drive to the hoop was blocked by 6-6 Kalu Anya.  Kalu blocked the shot, secured the rebound and fed ahead to a breaking Will Batchelder for a layup.

This surge put Governors in front (46-39) with 12 ½ minutes left.

The scoring picked up for both teams, but Groton needed stops to get closer and on this afternoon they couldn’t do it.

Junior Nate Salander

Nate Salander had fourteen points, including two triples, during the final 12+ minutes.  Caleb Coleman (13 points) added nine points including an off-balanced triple in the closing minute.

“We had to fight against adversity today,” said Will Batchelder afterwards.  “We underestimated them and once they started playing good, we picked it up.  At the end we all came together.”

Will made shots from long range (four 3’s) and was able to get to the basket.

“He’s a good kid,” said Coach Francis.  “We knew about him and tried our best to deny him the ball.  But you know what, good players find ways to make it happen and he did.”

Coach Shelton: “Will is an absolute gym rat.  He’s a coach’s dream because he puts so much energy into the game of basketball.  He puts in the work in the unseen hours like nobody I’ve ever seen in coaching.  We’re looking for him to put the ball in the basket at a high level.  When he wants to pass, he’s excellent at that as well.”

Sophomore Will Batchelder

Will has scholarship offers from two D1 schools (George Mason & Brown) already with several others showing interest.  Not bad for a sophomore!

Junior Nate Salander was impressive for Groton.

“We had a spy on him,” said Coach Shelton.

“Nate has been in our program for a long time,” said Coach Francis.  “He has gotten better every year.”

Season so far?

Coach Francis: “It’s a season I’m proud of.  Our guys play for each other.  Our chemistry has been great.  I do wish, however, that the wins and losses columns were a little different.”

Coach Harold Francis (Groton)

Coach Shelton: “Our team is young and many of them are experiencing the NEPSAC for the first time.  It’s a different speed and pace and the players are older and stronger.  We have a ways to go to solidify ourselves for the post-season.”

Amesbury High School boys basketball had representatives in the crowd.

Groton’s Caleb Coleman has a football scholarship to Princeton.

Is it important?  Who knows, but this is where a blogger has freedoms that newspaper writers don’t have.  I work for Hoffman Driving School.  In that capacity I have given Will Batchelder several driving lessons.  We briefly discussed driving post-game because he will be taking his road test in February.  “I’m a little better at this (basketball) than I am at driving,” he admitted.  I won’t argue that!

Scoring totals:

Groton (71 points) Caleb Coleman 13, Rami Hahami 14, Henry Haskell 2, Matthew Kandel 10, Obinna Nwaokoro 7, Nate Salander 25.

Governors (79 points) Will Batchelder 28, Drew Sachs 10, Jason Mahoney 1, Peyton O’Leary 6, Liam Dunfree 2, Kalu Anya 10, John Gorgol 3, Holden Symonds 18.

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

Rami Hahami (14 points) drives

Peyton O’Leary

On the floor

Obinna Nwaokoro

Matthew Kandel (10 points) floats in the lane

Kalu Anya at the rim

Kalu Anya (10 points)

John Gorgol and Nate Salander

Jason Mahoney

Jack Pedreschi and Matthew Kandel

Henry Haskell in Govs traffic

Will Batchelder shoots free throws

Will Batchelder and Caleb Coleman

Caleb Coleman has a football scholarship to Princeton

Aroon Sankoh and Caleb Coleman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parker McLaren (26) and Jake Robertson (23) too much for Triton

Parker McLaren (26 points)

Jake Robertson (23 points)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Newburyport MA) The Newburyport Clippers looked awfully good.

Tonight they defeated Triton, 81-58, and qualified for the state tournament.

The Clippers (10-3) are undefeated in the Cape Ann League (10-0) and have won every game (eight) in the new year.

Parker McLaren guarded by Quintin McHale

Last loss was a non-league event against Amesbury in December.  The rematch is scheduled for February 4th at Newburyport.

Parker McLaren and Jake Robertson continue to put up points despite regularly drawing the oppositions best defenders.

Parker had twenty-six points including three triples.

Jake clicked from long range five times and ended with twenty-three points.

Triton (7-6) came out missing and the Clippers took full advantage.

Less than four minutes into the game Newburyport had already drained three 3’s (Jack Felhner, Jake Robertson, Parker McLaren) and led 12-0.  The Vikings never recovered.

“They can do everything,” said Mason Ferrick (15 points) afterwards.  “They can shoot from the outside.  They’ve got help down low to make layups.”

Zach Liebert guards Jake Robertson

“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” added Triton coach Ted Schruender.

Jake Robertson collected two more three’s before the quarter ended and teammate Jack Felhner also added another one.  Triton trailed, 25-12, after one period.

The visitors put a 10-1 segment together in the second period to lessen their deficit to, 29-22, three minutes in.  Getting to the basket and the foul line sparked the comeback.  Senior Jesse Wilkinson turned an NHS miscue into a layup.

But on this night, the Clippers had responses for any and all of Triton’s comeback attempts.

The highlight of the second period was Parker McLaren’s steal of a cross-court pass that gave him a clear breakaway.  Off he went with time to look for anyone chasing him.  He rushed in for a resounding jam that was a genuine crowd pleaser.  NHS led at halftime, 39-31.

Quintin McHale blocks Parker McLaren’s shot

Newburyport began the second half with a Parker layup (assist Trevor Ward) and another Parker three (assist Jake Robertson). There was no stopping them tonight.

The Clippers had a double-digit lead for good in the third period and cruised in with the win.

The Vikings never stopped competing.  They took the ball to the basket and they defended aggressively.  Quintin McHale (12 points) got Parker McLaren into several jump ball situations.

“Parker is resilient,” said Coach Clay.  “That’s why he’s a leader and a captain in our program.  Some people wouldn’t continue attacking but he did.  I loved that dunk he had.”

It certainly hurt Triton when high-scorer Michael Farago had two fouls in the first 1 ½ minutes of the game.  His minutes thereafter were limited but he never fouled out.

“He (Michael Farago) doesn’t let things bother him,” explained Coach Schreuender.  “That’s why he was able to play so well (eight points) in the second half.”

Both teams played man-to-man.  Triton tried a zone for one (?) possession and Jake Robertson immediately connected on a three from the top of the key.

Michael Farago defends

Impressed with the way that Newburyport took care of the ball.  Very few turnovers for the home team.

Good crowd of Vikings were on hand.

Mason Ferrick: “Newburyport is a good team and we didn’t have tonight what it took to beat them.  Now we get ready for Ipswich on Tuesday.”

Coach Schruender: “If we compete like we did today, we’ll have a lot of good situations in our future.”

Triton box

Newburyport box

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

Dylan Wilkinson

Griffin Dupuis shoots

Jack Fehlner

TJ Overbaugh tries to shoot

Trevor Ward defends

Jake Robertson looks to pass

Mason Ferrick guarded by Jack Fehlner (13 points)

Max Gagnon

Jesse Wilkinson

Mason Ferrick blocks Jake Robertson’s shot

 

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Hot-shooting Amesbury takes down Manchester-Essex 77-58

Jaden Keliher (26 points) dribbles by Lars Arntsen

Rocco Kokinacis (11 points) splits two defenders

(Amesbury MA) There was no off button for the Amesbury Indians on this night.

Amesbury (8-3) jumped all over a very good Manchester-Essex team with a convincing, 77-58, win on Monday night in Cape Ann League action.

The Indians had a 25-5 final quarter against Hamilton-Wenham the other night and suffered a painful 63-50 loss to the Generals.

“We learned a lot from that loss,” said AHS coach Tom Comeau post-game.  “We have to take care of the basketball, win the 50/50 battles, and rebound.  We took care of all three phases tonight.”

Manchester-Essex (9-2) used multiple defenses but couldn’t slow down Amesbury.

Kellen Furse (11 points) passes out of an Amesbury double team

“We scored fifty-eight points,” said ME coach Tim St. Laurent afterwards.  “That should have been enough to win but we couldn’t contain them on the defensive end.  They were making shots and they were attacking us.  We didn’t keep them from getting to the rim.”

Amesbury built up a twenty-point lead (41-21) in the first half.

The Hornets cut that lead to eleven (61-50) at the start of the final quarter.

“I thought in the second half that we could get all the way back, but Amesbury was the hotter team tonight,” said Coach St. Laurent.

When ME narrowed the lead to eleven, the Indians answered with their third nine-point run of the game and back up the lead went to twenty (70-50) with four minutes left.

Senior Jaden Keliher (26 points) scored points in the breakaway first half (19) and then handled ME’s backcourt pressure in the second half.

“We came out and played hard,” said Jaden afterwards.  “We played together.”

Kyle Donovan (14 points) was a strong interior presence for the Indians

Junior Kyle Donovan (14 points) dominated the inside for AHS.

“Kyle was a ‘man’ out there,” said Coach Comeau.  “He plays hard and he’s a smart player.”

Tonight’s game did not get out of hand immediately.

The Hornets trailed only, 10-7, after five minutes. But then the first nine-point run kicked in.  Jimmy Gjikopulli (13 points) turned an ME miscue into a layup and followed that with a successful jump shot.  Jaden Keliher added a layup and a free throw and Ethan Catania converted a rebound.  Up the home team went, 19-7.

The Indians started the second quarter with another collection of consecutive points.

Play on the floor

Rocco Kokinacis (11 points) got to the rim twice.  Jimmy Gjikopulli converted his own rebound and Jaden Keliher added an old-fashioned 3-point play.  That boosted the AHS advantage to 28-11 only two minutes into the second quarter.

Amesbury was ahead, 43-24, at the half.

That lead would extend to 60-27 with two minutes left in the third quarter.  It looked like a cruise to the final buzzer for the Indians.  The Hornets, however, had other ideas!

Over the next 2 ½ minutes of playing time, the Hornets that I saw defeat Bishop Fenwick in double overtime, showed up.  Their defense was effective, and they made shots.  Visions of a big comeback started to take shape.

AJ Pallazola led a ME comeback attempt

Sophomore AJ Pallazola sparked the Hornets with a jump shot and two assists as ME put together a 13-1 segment stretching into the final quarter.

That 61-50 deficit looked manageable with 7 ½ minutes of playing time remaining.

“We called a timeout and things got settled down,” said Jaden Keliher.  “Then we went out there and kept them from making a comeback.”

Twice Kyle Donovan scored from in close and Jaden Keliher got to the basket.  Then Jimmy Gjikopulli got loose in the lane and added a free throw.  Back the lead went to twenty (70-50) and the Indians were home safe.

Sometimes backcourt turnovers will lead to rallies, but the Hornets pressure couldn’t get there tonight.

Jaden Keliher

“Jaden (Keliher) is strong with the ball,” said Coach Comeau.  “We have three guards who really play well so it’s hard to press us.”

Mason Paccone (15 points) led the ME scorers.  The Hornets senior drained three from long range.  Kellen Furse finished with eleven points.

Jaden Keliher: “We wanted to take away Kellen Furse and #12 (Jack Shaw).  Kellen is a great player.  I have a lot of respect for him.  I’ve grown up playing him.”

Coach Comeau: “Hamilton-Wenham came back against us and we let it snowball and get away from us.  We discussed before the game that we needed to learn from it.  They’re fast learners!”

Jaden Keliher: “Points are nice but getting a W at the end is what it’s all about.”

The Indians were 9-10 last season.

Pentucket players were in the audience at tonight’s game.

Amesbury box

Manchester-Essex box

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

Rocco Kokinacis

Coach Tom Comeau and Jaden Keliher in the closing minute

Frank Wood

Jaden Keliher breaks past Frank Wood

Jaden Keliher in close for two

Jimmy Gjikopulli

Kellen Furse and Jimmy Gjikopulli

Cam and Jaden Keliher guard Kellen Furse

Kellen Furse pressured by Rocco Kokinacis

Kyle Donovan

 

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Newburyport’s fast start enough to defeat Haverhill 47-35

Lindsay Joulbert faces tight defense by Jackie Doucette.

Makenna Ward (14) moves quickly after a Haverhill turnover

(Newburyport MA) Newburyport had the defensive heat on high from the get-go and gained permanent separation early against Haverhill.

The Monday night non-league game was an unsavory 47-35 loss for the Hillies.

“That was not Haverhill basketball you saw out there,” explained a disappointed HHS coach Melissa Tarpy afterwards.  “We didn’t play basic basketball.”

It certainly didn’t help the Hillies (3-6) that Merrimack Valley League All-Star McKayla Dingle was not in uniform.

“We were missing a player but that is no excuse,” added Coach Tarpy.  “Teams step up in those situations and we didn’t.”

The Clippers (6-2) turned full-court man-to-man defense into ten Haverhill turnovers and a nineteen-point first quarter. Haverhill never recovered from the 19-7 deficit.

Sami Cavanaugh covers Kya Burdier (9 points)

“We got turnovers and layups,” said Sami Cavanaugh afterwards.

Sometimes turnovers merely change possession.  The Clippers had the kind that led to points.

“If our defense is strong, everything else is dictated by that,” said Newburyport coach Karen Grutchfield.

“We’ll never win a game with that many turnovers,” added Coach Tarpy.

The home team started the second quarter with two more hoops (Abby Gillingham layup from Sadie Vandenberg, Deirdre McElhinney steal and layin).  The Clippers’ advantage became, 23-7, and had me wondering why I thought this might be a competitive game!

The rest of the way, however, was competitive.  Haverhill outscored Newburyport 28-24 in the remaining twenty-three minutes of action, but the closest the Hillies would get to the lead was, 35-28, in the first minute of the final quarter.

Newburyport immediately answered by getting baskets when, first Makenna Ward, and then Ann Affolter, got the ball in to 6-3 Abby Gillingham on the block.  Abby was able to turn and get consecutive layups against out-sized opponents.

Makenna Ward sends a bounce pass to Abby Gillingham

Abby gets good positioning to receive a pass in close

Abby (14 points) gets a layup

“We have tall forwards,” said Sami.  “It was important to get the ball in to them because Haverhill couldn’t match up with them.”

Kya Burdier set to block Sami Cavanaugh’s shot

Sami added two free throws to run the Clippers consecutive-point total to six and boosted their margin to thirteen (41-28).  The NHS defense kept Haverhill from getting inside of double figures over the final five minutes.

The Clippers had one turnover in the breakaway first quarter but fifteen more (by my count) after that.  “We turned the ball over a lot,” said Coach Grutchfield, “and that helped them get back into the game.”

Against North Reading, last Wednesday, the Clippers struggled to get the ball inside without losing possession.  Much better job tonight.

Neither team did themselves any favors at the free throw line; Newburyport (8/18) & Haverhill (9/26).

Senior Leandra Kwo led HHS with thirteen points.  Sophomore Kya Burdier added nine points.

Deirdre McElhinney (9 points) looks to pass

Abby Gillingham (14 points) led all scorers.  A jumper from the corner was part of her collection of points.  Freshman Deirdre McElhinney added nine points including a triple.

Coach Grutchfield: “We have good depth.  We did a good job of getting the ball inside to Abby.  It was good to see Makenna (Ward) looking for her shot tonight.”

Coach Tarpy: “It was probably one of the worst games we’ve played defensively.  We’ve got more than half the season left.  We will also face Newburyport again.”

Haverhill is a D1 team from the Merrimack Valley Conference.  The Hillies had their best season in sixteen years last year when they were 16-6 and won a tournament game.  Haverhill was 17-62 in the four seasons before last year.

Kya Burdier was All-MVC last season.  Leandra Kwo was an Lawrence Eagle-Tribune All-Star in the same season.

Newburyport box

Haverhill box

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

Abby Gillingham sets a screen for Sami Cavanaugh

Anna Affolter

Christina Firek

Deirdre McElhinney drives right

Opening tip

Sami Cavanaugh

Sami Cavanaugh gets by Haley Phillips

Carli Quinlan

fight for possession

Jackie Doucette

Kya Burdier in for two

On the floor

 

 

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Pentucket struggles in 57-50 win over non-league Notre Dame Academy (Hingham)

Angelina Yacubacci (22 points) puts up a floater

Neither team backed down

(West Newbury MA) Both teams were aggressive and neither team backed down.

The result?  A whistle fest.

Pentucket (7-1) took the lead for good midway through the third quarter and survived non-league Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), 57-50, on Saturday night.

The visitors were within two points (51-49) with 1:17 left but the Sachems (7-1) dominated the rest of the way. A beautiful interior pass by freshman Abby Dube set up teammate Mackenzie Currie for a layup, boosting the lead back to four. After a NDA free throw (Ava Orlando), senior Angelina Yacubacci (22 points) surrounded a Cougar turnover with foul-producing drives.  Angelina sank all four freebies and the defending D2 champs had a victory.

“It was a good win,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards, “but we’ve got some things to work on. Our defense needed to get better.  We’re fouling too much.”

Angelica Hurley in the lane chased by Ava Orlando

“We did not do a good job of containing the drive,” explained Notre Dame coach Nicole Orlando.

Pentucket shot thirty-five free throws and the Cougars twenty-six.

There was hardly a possession that didn’t earn a whistle for something, because the teams also combined for thirty-five turnovers to go along with all the fouls!

The teams were tied at 8-8 with a minute left in the first quarter.  At this point Pentucket put a 13-2 run together that stretched into the second quarter.  Their 21-10 lead threatened to take the suspense out of the final outcome.  Five different Sachems contributed points as their dangerous pressure defense kicked in.  Hannah Lambert had a three in the collection of Pentucket points.

Megan Reading and Haley Roberts tie up

Some teams fall apart when the Sachems put a run of points together……..NDA wasn’t one of them. The excessive fouling started to hurt the home team.  The Cougars went to the foul line seven times and made six of them.  With Pentucket cooled down, their big lead vanished and NDA tightened things to 23-22 in the closing seconds.

At this point, Angelina Yacubacci fired the beyond half-court buzzer beater that seldom goes in……..but this time it did.  Pentucket had a four-point lead (26-22) at halftime.

Notre Dame (5-2) was able to take the lead in the first two minutes of the second half.  A rebound basket by Ava Foley and a layup off a Pentucket turnover put NDA in front, 29-26.

The defending champs in trouble?  Not for long.

Megan Reading (33) puts up a shot

The Sachems headed toward the basket on almost every possession thereafter and when they didn’t score, they did get free throws.  Pentucket put seven unanswered points together and three minutes later they were in front, 34-29.  A key possession for the Sachems in this successful sequence was when an offensive rebound led to a corner three by Alyssa Thompson.

Pentucket led the rest of the way but the Cougars were never far away.  They were within one point several times but Pentucket had answers.  Rebound baskets.  Floaters in the lane and free throws kept the Cougars from actually catching up.

The Sachems depth was crucial in the end game.  Coach McNamara was able to have his starters on the court in the closing minutes.  Coach Orlando had three starters (Ava Foley, Haley Roberts, Ellie Hilsabeck) foul out.

Impressive for NDA was senior Kristin Barrett.  Kristin ended up with eighteen points including eight in the first five minutes of the final quarter that had the Cougars only trailing, 48-46.

Kristin Barrett (18 points) chased by Abby Dube (23) and Lana Mickelson (32)

“Notre Dame has always been a good team,” explained Angelica Hurley post-game, “especially #13 (Kristin Barrett). We always struggle to contain her.  She’s really fast.”

“We kept them in the game with our fouling,” said Coach McNamara. “There was no flow to the game as a result.”

Angelica Hurley: “We definitely need to work on our gap defense.  We do it well in practice, but it doesn’t show in the games.  We also can’t get frustrated with each other.”

Coach McNamara: “We have been playing Notre Dame for thirteen years.  Somehow their coach and I started talking and we ended up playing them. They now have a new coach, but I hope we can continue to play them in the future.”

Coach McNamara had daughters play for him a while ago.  Coach Orlando had her seventh-grade daughter playing for her tonight.

Ava Foley covered by Angelica Hurley

“You have to focus on the game and not on your kid playing,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “Coach Orlando’s daughter is pretty good for a 7th grader.”

“It’s exciting to have your daughter play for you,” said Coach Orlando.  “We don’t put a lot of emphasis on it.  I don’t coach her differently.  She is very poised for her age.”

A first for me tonight: Both coaches thanked me for covering the game.

Junior Arielle Cleveland injured an ankle on Friday night during Pentucket’s win over Triton.  Could be out a couple of weeks.

Notre Dame box

Pentucket box

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

Abby Dube

Abby Dube (23) and Angelica Hurley (24) try to trap Kristin Barrett

Alyssa Thompson at the line

Alyssa Thompson leads a break

Notre Dame coach Nicole Orlando

Angelica Hurley shoots over Ellie Hilsabeck

Angelina Yacubacci and Haley Roberts get tied up

Anna Wyner defends

Julia Foley (4) defends

Lana Mickelson at the line

 

 

 

 

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Newburyport holds off North Reading 38-36 in defensive struggle

Newburyport celebrates their fifth win

Deirdre McElhinney scores in the last minute

Julia Howse left with an injury in the second half

(Newburyport MA) Freshman Deirdre McElhinney turned a last-minute North Reading miscue into an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Newburyport the cushion needed to hold off the Hornets, 38-36, on Wednesday night.

Both D2 teams had scoring strengths, but tenacious defense minimized those strengths.

The Clippers (5-1) wanted to take advantage of their height inside, while North Reading (3-3) wanted their long-range shooting to spark them.

“It was a battle,” said NR coach Bob Romeo afterwards.  “We told the team before the game that this would be a one-or-two possession game, and it was.”

After a missed free throw (Sami Cavanaugh), the Hornets had twelve seconds to either tie the game or win it.  They got two shots off but under heavy pressure and couldn’t connect.

Ali Grasso led all scorers with twelve points

“I’m thrilled with how tough our kids were down the stretch against a good team,” explained NHS coach Karen Grutchfield.

The half-court man-to-man defenses kept either team from gaining significant separation.

North Reading had a six-point lead (10-4) after a Lauren Sullivan (9 points) breakaway in the opening period.

Abby Gillingham looks for her shot

Newburyport had a six-point lead of its own in the third quarter (24-18) after an Abby Gillingham layin.

The rest of the time it was close between the two Cape Ann League opponents.  There were six ties and five lead changes.

The visitors had a 3-point edge (32-29) five minutes into the final quarter after an Ali Grasso (12 points) long one.

The Clippers answered with their best collection of consecutive offense (six straight) over the next minute.  In the crucial run, senior Sami Cavanaugh started it by setting up junior Leah Metsker for a layup and then added a jump shot.  The other two points came on a perfectly executed inbounds play: Abby Gillingham set a screen for teammate Sadie Vandenberg along the foul line.  Sadie used the screen and rolled wide open into the lane for an uncontested layup.

Perfectly executed in-bounds play gave NHS a layup

That run of points put NHS ahead by three.

Makenna Ward has a shot blocked by Lauren Sullivan

The Hornets cut that lead to one (Lauren Sullivan rebound basket) and had the ball back in the last minute with a chance to do even better.  But the Clippers forced a turnover on the NR perimeter and Sami sent Deirdre off for the outcome-sealing layup + one.

“I felt that Anna Affolter (9 points) and Deirdre (7 points) really stepped up,” said Coach Grutchfield.  “Sami led us.  She’s the heart of the team.”

North Reading had five three’s.  Four of them came in the second half.

“We hit some big shots in that stretch when we got back into the game in the second half,” said Coach Romeo.

“North Reading is a good team with great shooters,” said Coach Grutchfield.  “We did a good job defending Ali Grasso.  She’s a very good player.”

Several of the Clippers had turns guarding Ali including Anna Affolter and Deirdre McElhinney.

Ali had twenty-three points the last time the Hornets visited Newburyport.

Leah Metsker looks for a pass

NR’s top inside presence (Julia Howse) injured herself diving for a ball going out-of-bounds early in the third quarter and didn’t return.

“We were a little short-handed when Julia (8 points) went out,” admitted Coach Romeo.

The Clippers (8-12 last year) are off to a nice start with their 5-1 record.  They have yet to face Pentucket, Masconomet, and Amesbury.  North Reading (3-3) has losses to Pentucket and Amesbury.

“We’ll be okay,” said Coach Romeo.  “We’re getting better.”

Pentucket coach John McNamara was in the house.

Coach Romeo on wearing green after all those years wearing Masco red: “I was due for some new clothes.”

North Reading box

Newburyport box

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

Makenna Ward tries to pass inside

Lauren Sullivan gets a timeout for North Reading

Sami Cavanaugh spots Deirdre McElhinney ahead and in the open

Sami Cavanaugh lofts a pass toward Leah Metsker

Sami Cavanaugh layup attempt with Ali Grasso over her shoulder

Senior Sami Cavanaugh

Freshman Makenna Ward

Freshman Emma Foley

Freshman Anna Affolter drives with Kiley McCarthy defending

Elle Doucette

Deirdre McElhinney adds the plus one in the closing minute

Ali Grasso pass in transition to teammate Lauren Sullivan

 

 

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