(West Newbury MA) The Ipswich Tigers started with shutout defense and ended with consecutive offense.
That combo was enough to defeat Pentucket, 52-48, on Thursday night at Pentucket.
The Tigers (5-4) scored the first nine points of the game while the Sachems (2-6) had eight turnovers. Nick Daly (20 points) got a layup four minutes into the opening quarter to get Pentucket on the board.
“We gave the ball away too much,” explained Pentucket coach Ed Hickey afterwards. “It’s our Achilles Heel right now.”
Despite the lousy start, and later in the third period trailing by ten (36-26), the Sachems were far from finished.
Senior Silas Bucco and junior Nick Daly took the home team on their collective backs after their team went down ten. They led the Sachems on an impressive 15-3 segment.
During the exciting comeback, Silas had six points while Nick had seven including a three that put Pentucket on top, 41-39, with 4 ½ minutes left in the game.
“I think we lost that ten-point lead because we got too rushed on offense, while defensively our rotations broke down a little bit,” explained Ipswich coach Alan Laroche.
For the next two minutes there were ties and lead changes with no indication of the final outcome.
The Sachems’ Kenny Lee set up teammate Ryan Tedeschi for a three from the left corner and then made a layup himself in traffic to boost the Pentucket margin to three (48-45) with 2 ½ minutes left.
Those would be the last points the Sachems would score.
“We had opportunities down the stretch to make shots and win the game,” said Coach Hickey. “We just didn’t get it done tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers put consecutive offense together scoring the last eight points of the game to get the win, 52-48.
“We had a nice run down the stretch,” recalled senior Aidan O’Flynn. “We came through thanks to Ray’s clutch performance.”
Sophomore Ray Cuevas (26 points) had a 12-point final quarter.
In the 2 ½ minute, run to victory, Ray set up teammate Nikhil Walker for a layup, made a three, and blocked a shot.
“Ray had a nice game,” said Coach Laroche. “He’s really starting to come into his own offensively. He’s finding where he can get his shot.”
Nikhil Walker made two free throws, with thirteen seconds left, out of a tense one-and-one situation.
“His two made free throws took some of the pressure off us in the final thirteen seconds,” added Coach Laroache.
I asked Aidan O’Flynn if he was surprised that Nikhil made the two shots: “Not at all, he’s a clutch free throw shooter. He practices them a lot. I wasn’t surprised he made both.”
It certainly dampened Pentucket’s chances when high-scorer Nick Daly fouled out with 1:22 left.
“Nick had a big game,” said Coach Hickey. “Losing him hurt us.”
Coach Hickey: “The kids competed. They played hard. It just didn’t work out for us.”
Coach Laroche: “It’s been a nice season. I told these kids that I wish I had them for twenty games because I think we could have done something in the real tournament.”
Silas Bucco had ten points for Pentucket and Will Wertz had the same amount for Ipswich.
I saw both teams defeat Triton by a point.
Coach Laroche: “We’re making the best of what we’re allowed to do. It’s awesome that we’re allowed to be here right now.”
The story will be linked on Twitter (McclellandPeter). It will also be posted on Mascores. Tomorrow some of the pictures will show up on Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).
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