(Amesbury MA) The Amesbury boys basketball team finally got a chance to play……….and they made the most of it.
The Indians (1-0) held off Rockport, 73-64, on Sunday afternoon.
The winless Vikings (0-4) got a career game (31 points) out of junior Bowen Slingluff and were within five points in the last minute with the ball.
Key play alert. Bowen followed with a drive to basket, which could have cut Amesbury’s lead to three points, but the shot attempt was blocked by senior Kyle Donovan.
The rest of the game was a steady flow of free throws for junior Cam Keliher (21 points), and his eight-for-eight from the line sealed it for the home team.
“You could see the rust for sure,” said Amesbury coach postgame. “Defensively, we were a little slow and #13 (Bowen Slingluff) took advantage of it. This is only our fourth day out here since coming back.” The Indians had their first four scheduled games cancelled because of Covid worries.
“I’m very proud of our team,” explained Rockport coach Phil Whitley afterwards. “We’ve got three seniors not playing because of Covid concerns. Today we were down but we came back.”
That short bench (three reserves) caught up to the Vikings in the third quarter. They gained a, 34-31, advantage after 1 ½ minutes.
Six different Indians (Matt Heidt, Kyle Donovan, Matt Welch, Cam Keliher, Keegan Collins, Jake Hallinan) contributed points in a 17-3 segment that followed over the next 4 ½ minutes and Amesbury took the lead for good, 48-37.
The Indians comfortable double-digit lead (65-55) got a little uncomfortable, however, in the last two minutes of the game as Rockport turned full-court defense into quick offense.
A three by Bowen and then a steal (Austin Matus) set Bowen up for a layup which had the Vikings within five, 65-60, one minute later
However, after Amesbury’s 8th turnover of the quarter, Kyle Donovan blocked Bowen’s layup attempt that would have made things even more interesting in the closing seconds.
Rockport was now forced to foul and every time they did, Cam Keliher had the ball.
Afterwards, Cam had lost track of the eight straight he made in the final thirty seconds. “I missed one earlier in the game,” he said.
“They made free throws at the end when they needed to,” recalled Coach Whitley.
“Cam is a very good foul shooter,” said Coach Comeau. “We wanted him to have the basketball late in the game. He’s a good all-around player.”
Cam led Amesbury in scoring. He had three 3’s in the second quarter.
Bowen’s thirty-one points were a career high for the junior. “He was amazing,” said Coach Whitley. “He hit from everywhere. He had been struggling a bit but had a big second half in our last game against Lynnfield.”
Kyle Donovan (14 points) dominated the inside, but fouls limited his playing time. “I have to learn to stop committing bad fouls.”
Rockport made ten three’s with Bowen getting seven of them. “We gave #13 too many looks,” said Cam Keliher.
The Indians will certainly have to improve their perimeter defense next game when they host Georgetown which specializes in long-range tries.
Nine different players collected points for Amesbury. Sophomore Matt Heidt had three of the Indians’ nine three’s.
Coach Whitley: “It has certainly been a bizarro season for everyone. This was a fun game to be a part of even though we lost.”
Coach Comeau: “Rockport played very well today.”
The link to this game will be posted on Twitter @mcclellandpeter. The story will also get posted (I hope) on Mascores. Later some of the pictures will appear on Instagram @mcclellandmiscellanea.
(All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)