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