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(Newburyport MA) Key player Deirdre McElhinney was missing (Covid).
Inside presence Abigail Gillingham had graduated.
But neither of those things kept Newburyport from defeating Triton, 54-31, on Tuesday night.
The win advances the undefeated Clippers (4-0) to the title game of the Institution for Savings Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament tomorrow night against Hamilton-Wenham.
Sophomore Olivia McDonald filled in nicely for Deirdre while Emma Foley feasted on the inside of the Triton zone defense.
However, don’t be fooled by the final score. The Vikings (3-2) were very much in this one (25-23) with only three minutes left in the third quarter.
However, the two-point deficit at that time was a distant memory by the time the game ended.
“We just ran out of steam,” surmised Triton coach Bryan Shields afterwards. “Newburyport is a great team.”
The Clippers man-to-man pressure and foul trouble for high scoring Kendall Liebert (16 points) combined to limit Triton points severely.
The Vikings suddenly couldn’t match baskets with the Clippers.
Newburyport ran six straight points before Caitlin Frary (8 points) put in a layup.
The Clippers followed with ten unanswered points before a free throw from Lia Hatheway.
Then came eight straight Newburyport points and this game was out-of-hand, 49-26, with five minutes left.
Key performer for the Clippers during their productive second-half possessions was junior Emma Foley. Emma had ten points during the breakaway segments and finished with nineteen points.
“We lost a lot of forwards from last year,” explained Emma post-game. “I realized that I had to step up. I’m working hard to do that this season. It’s really fun to play inside.”
Emma went out with an injury in the second quarter but returned to have a sixteen-point second half.
“I have been playing on a sprained ankle for a couple of weeks now,” she said. “A girl landed on it tonight.”
The Vikings used a zone defense for most of the night.
“We wanted to slow them down and keep them out of the paint,” said Coach Shields. “We were keying on “10” (Makenna Ward). She’s a great player for sure. We wanted to focus on her and make the rest of the team beat us.”
Makenna was limited to six points, but the rest of the team caught fire in the second half led by Emma Foley to get the victory.
The Newburyport defense created twenty-four Triton turnovers. Most of the Vikings’ miscues were in the halfcourt and didn’t lead to many breakaway layups.
Triton put its best basketball on display in the second quarter. Trailing 17-9, the Vikings doubled their score while shutting out the Clippers during a three-minute segment. Kendall Liebert had a fullcourt layup and two assists to spark the visitors to an 18-17 lead.
One thing that both teams had in common was poor foul shooting. The Clippers missed ten while the Vikings missed eight. Several were the front ends of one-and-one’s.
Triton’s Molly Kimball was the only player to make a 3-point shot.
The Clippers came up with five rebound baskets. “We pride ourselves in our rebounding, but we didn’t do quite enough of that tonight,” said Coach Shields.
Asked about the Institution for Savings tournament, Emma said, “We love this tournament. It’s fun. They have T-shirts and trophies.”
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