(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.
“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.
“We have tall forwards,” said Sami. “It was important to get the ball in to them because Haverhill couldn’t match up with them.”
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.
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.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)