(Newburyport MA) The Clippers dominated the final three minutes and that was enough to earn them a, 72-64, win over North Reading on Friday night.
“They crushed us on the glass over the last 4-5 minutes,” said NR coach Joe Casey afterwards. “That’s what won them the game.”
Newburyport coach Dave Clay saw things a bit differently: “We won this game with defensive stops. Those stops led to transition points.”
This game had plenty for both squads to cheer about. The Clippers (6-4) led by six (23-17) after a quarter, but the Hornets (4-4) owned the middle quarters. The visitors were ahead by nine (50-41) with 1 ½ minutes left in the third quarter.
Newburyport took the game over the rest of the way outscoring the Hornets, 31-14, to gain the victory.
“This group is resilient,” said Coach Clay. “I’m proud of them keeping the fight in them.”
The tempo of this game was fun to watch because both teams had the same approach. The defense was full-court, man-to-man and the attack was full-speed after misses. Rebounds were heavily contested.
Neither team was shy about taking the ball to the basket. The best of the passes were dropdowns by penetrators.
High scorer Finn Brennan (21 points) was on the receiving end of quite a few in-close passes. “My teammates were getting to the rim and giving me easy dump-downs every time,” said Finn afterwards.
The Hornets were led by Andrew Boulas (16 points) and Cody Cannalonga (14 points). Both players took the ball to the basket and often made the layup or got fouled. Cody drained seven free throws.
The Clippers came out of a timeout after going down, 50-41, and finished the quarter with seven straight points including a Jack Fehlner three.
Two-plus minutes into the last quarter Owen Tahnk cashed two free throws and the Clippers were on top, 55-54.
Finn Sullivan was the spark for the home team the rest of the way. He contributed points, assists, and steals and gave the nearby active student section plenty to get excited about.
“The fans are so committed,” said Finn Sullivan afterwards. “We love having them there.”
“Finn (Sullivan) gives us so much energy and passion on the court and it’s so contagious,” said Coach Clay. “He’s quite an athlete and a fierce competitor.”
Finn connected on a three assisted by Jack Fehlner and then set up teammates Ronan Brown and James Scali for additional three’s.
The Hornets struggled to respond.
“Give them credit,” said NR Coach Casey, “they hit a couple of tough shots down the stretch.”
Ronan Brown (12) and Jack Fehlner (11) reached double figures for Newburyport.
Finn Brennan had nineteen of this twenty-one points through the first three quarters. The Clippers 50-41 deficit late in the third quarter would have been much larger without the inside scoring of the tall freshman.
The Clippers hadn’t played in ten days.
Newburyport won the first meeting between the two teams on January 6th, 57-42.
I’ve done quite a few basketball games this winter and this was easily the noisiest one.
Finn Sullivan: “We defended hard in the fourth quarter and did the little things you need to do to win.”
Newburyport 23 12 13 24 = 72
North Reading 17 16 17 14 = 64
(The pictures will enlarge.)