(Click on the pictures below and they will enlarge.)
(Newburyport MA) Don’t let the final score fool you.
The final was Newburyport 53, Manchester-Essex 26.
But the Hornets were more than holding their own into the second half.
In fact, the visitors were ahead, 22-21, 2 ½ minutes into the second half.
But the one constant was the Newburyport pressure defense. In the second half, that defense created points in bunches and ME couldn’t keep up.
“We had a great first half,” said ME coach Lauren Dubois afterwards, “and we handled their pressure better.”
“We struggled, however, against it in the second half,” she added. “Newburyport picked up the intensity and we ran out of gas a little bit.”
MaKenna Ward stole the ball and went the full length of the court to give the Clippers the lead for good, 23-22, in the second half.
After that the non-stop pressure set up a steady flow of productive possessions for Newburyport.
“When we play our defense,” said MaKenna Ward, “we get steals and we run.”
“We work on a lot of different defenses,” added MaKenna.
In the first half, the Clippers were primarily man-to-man and while they created twenty turnovers (by my count) those turnovers weren’t leading to a flow of points.
In the second half, the double-teams started. Makenna Ward, Deirdre McElhinney, and Olivia McDonald swarmed the Hornets’ ballhandlers into miscues. In the second half, the takeaways often turned into points.
“Our team is fast,” said MaKenna. “When we push, we score the most.”
Newburyport’s Emma Foley (14 points) had all of those points in the second half.
“We held them to six points in the second half,” said Clippers coach Karen Grutchfield post-game. “That was the difference.”
Coach Grutchfield couldn’t help but reflect on her team’s first half: “It was frustrating. We missed a lot of layups and free throws.”
“But,” she added, “we overcame the first-half adversity and I think we can enjoy our play in the second half.”
One thing that both coaches could agree on was the impressive game that ME’s Emma Fitzgerald had.
Coach Dubois: “Emma brings intensity. She’s a great leader. She battles hard on every possession.”
Coach Grutchfield: “We had trouble with #3 (Emma Fitzgerald). She’s a very good player.”
Emma led all scorers with sixteen points. She tallied all of ME’s second-half points.
MaKenna Ward and Deirdre McElhinney both had thirteen points for Newburyport.
This was a game played almost entirely on the inside. No three’s were made and very few were attempted.
When Newburyport went into organized offense, they were intent on getting the ball inside to Emma Foley. That strategy was the key to Emma’s productive second half.
This was the season opener for both squads.
Free throw shooting was an adventure for both teams. They combined to miss twenty-five freebies. ME was 10/25 while Newburyport was 13/23.
Coach Dubois: “Newburyport is a great team with a lot of experienced players back.”
Coach Grutchfield: “The win was nice, but we all have a lot of improving to do.”
MaKenna Ward: “I think that we were a little bit scared in the first half and not playing our best defense.”
Newburyport 11 – 8 – 17 – 17 = 53
Manchester-Essex 9 – 11 – 4 – 2 = 26
The Clippers scored the last fifteen points of the game.
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