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(Amesbury MA) “It was hard to defend them early,” said Manchester-Essex junior Brennan Twombly afterwards.
Amesbury jumped out to a 9-0 lead, and it looked like a long night for the Hornets.
But the Indians cooled off and ME took the lead for good three minutes into the fourth quarter.
The final was Manchester-Essex 53, Amesbury 51.
This was a one-possession game for the last three minutes, but Amesbury couldn’t put a stop together with points.
“It was our first game,” said Amesbury coach Tom Comeau post-game. “We’ll get better.
Matt Welch (22 points) led all scorers.
The Indians raced out with scores from four different starters (Cam Keliher, Rocco Kokinacis, Max LaPointe, Matt Welch) and had their student section roaring with each possession.
“Amesbury stuck it to us a little bit in the beginning,” said ME coach Tim St. Laurent afterwards.
“We had a lot of success against Newburyport in the zone,” added Coach St. Laurent, “but tonight we made a good adjustment to man-to-man and rebounded.”
The Indians kept on putting up points, however, and led, 26-13, 3+ minutes into the second quarter.
Key moment was Matt Welch getting his third foul at that point and sitting out the remainder of the second quarter.
While Matt sat, the Hornets reeled off nine straight points. The contributors were; Patrick Cronin, Brennan Twombly, Cade Furse, and Sam Athanas.
The Amesbury lead was reduced to 28-24 at halftime.
Both teams had plenty to get excited about in the third quarter. There were five lead changes. Matt Welch and Cam Keliher (17 points) carried the Indians.
“They (Amesbury) have two guys who can really score,” said Coach St. Laurent.
The Hornets were led by Brennan Twombly (18 points) and Cade Furse (15 points).
Amesbury took a, 38-35, lead into the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Manchester-Essex took over from there running nine unanswered points. A Sam Athanas triple ended the streak of consecutive offense with the Hornets now ahead, 44-38, three minutes into the final quarter.
Amesbury was unable to recover.
“I think we got a little tired in the second half,” said AHS coach Tom Comeau. “We didn’t rebound as well.”
“It was great team defense that won this game for us,” said ME coach Tim St. Laurent. “We defended the ball.”
“We came out with more energy after those first couple of minutes,” recalled Brennan Twombly.
Patrick Cronin (10 points) was the third Hornet in double figures.
Endicott commit Cam Keliher made a three to start the game and closed a game with a fall-away three that put him into the Amesbury student section.
Cam had Sam Athanas on him most of the game and found very little open space.
“Cam knows that the teams we face will try to find ways to stop him,” said Coach Comeau.
Returning Hornets starter AJ Pallazola was not in uniform. He told me pre-game that he was injured playing football and that it would be several weeks before he would be playing basketball. He also told me that he hadn’t made a college choice yet.
That the Hornets could defeat both Newburyport and Amesbury without AJ in their lineup suggests that they should have a very good season.
Manchester-Essex 10 14 15 14 = 53
Amesbury 18 10 10 13 = 51
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