Monthly Archives: February 2022

Portsmouth Christian wins tourney opener 66-44 over Sunapee

Jason Stockbower (20 points) found lanes to layups
Rebound battle

(Dover NH) “When we’re poised on offense, we’re tough to defend,” said Portsmouth Christian coach Derek Summers post-game.

#5 PCA defeated #12 Sunapee, 66-44, in the Division IV preliminary round on Monday night.

The Lakers (9-10) got off to a nice, 9-5, lead but couldn’t hold it.

The Eagles (15-4) started hitting three’s when Sunapee zoned and found routes to the basket when the Lakers switched to man-to-man defense.

Seth Huggard (14 points)

“They certainly have shooters and drivers,” said Sunapee coach Tim Puchtler afterwards.

“We played them a month ago and had trouble with their press,” he added.  “We made adjustments and didn’t really have trouble against it today.  Our problem was after we broke the press.  We just couldn’t relax and play basketball.  We did early in the game and we had a very good four or five minutes.”

Baskets by Nick Belisle (10 points), Jacob Stoughton, and Nick Pollari keyed the Lakers good, 9-5, start after three minutes.

The Eagles reacted with a timeout and came out of it with better rebounding. They also started to put up points against whatever defense Sunapee tried.

Andrew Claus (11 points)

PCA reeled off ten straight points and took the lead for good in the process.

Consecutive three’s by Jason Stockbower (20 points) and Connor Hickey gave the Eagles the lead.  Gavin Nagy (14 points) and Seth Huggard (14 points) followed with successful drives to the basket. 

That run of points built the lead to 15-9.  A second three by Jason Stockbower raised the margin to 25-15, 2 ½ minutes into the second quarter.

Gavin Nagy (14 points)

Jason had eleven points in that decisive second period.

The PCA lead was twelve (32-20) at halftime and was elevated to twenty (42-22) two minutes into the second half.

“We expected them to fight us pretty hard and they did,” said Jason Stockbower afterwards.  “They switched up some looks on us from the first time we played them, so we had to make some adjustments.”

Andrew Claus (11 points) cut the Eagles lead to sixteen in the first minute of the final quarter but that was as close as the Lakers could get.

Scramble for control

Coach Summers: “We wanted to get out and run and make sure we kept them off the glass.  When we gave them second opportunities in the first half, we usually paid for it.”

Portsmouth Christian reached the D IV state finals last year and in 2016 and 2005.  They are still chasing their first state basketball title.

“We’re a good team and we’re looking to go far in the tournament this time,” said Jason.

Nick Belisle (10 points)

The Eagles have won eleven of their last twelve games.  The higher seeds, however, are still alive in the tournament and several of them already have wins over PCA this season.

“Every tournament game will be a battle for sure,” said Coach Summers.

PCA            17   22   16   11   =   66

Sunapee    12   10   15     7   =   44

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Erick Angwenyi and Jaden Young defend
Drew Clifford drives
Battle for control
Drew Clifford guarded by Jason Stockbower
Nick Pollari and McHale Cahill defend
Abhay Soman
Connor Hickey
Gavin Nagy drives
Portsmouth Christian Academy box
Sunapee box

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New Hampshire edges Binghamton 66-62

Marco Foster (14 points) hit consecutive three’s to give UNH separation late in the game
Coach Bill Herrion

(Durham NH) “It was a grind of a game,” said UNH coach Bill Herrion at the post-game press conference.

The Wildcats (14-12) had enough in this close/tough game to defeat Binghamton, 66-62, on Saturday afternoon at Durham.

Both teams entered the game tied at 8-8 in the American East Conference. 

Vermont stands alone at the top of the AEC with only one loss, but second place is hardly assured for anyone.

Christian Hinckson had a double/double for Binghamton

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the standings,” said Coach Herrion, “but I admit knowing that each game is big.  We’re all trying to survive.  The league has never been bunched the way it is this year.”

Evenly matched teams have trouble putting consecutive points together.  And that was the case today.

There were six lead changes, and the score was tied nine times.  Breathing room was non-existent!

Things went the Wildcats way after the last tie (50-50) with 4:19 remaining in the game.

Nick Guadarrama (16 points)

The sought-after string of consecutive offense happened as UNH scored seven straight points.

A Nick Guadarrama jump shot.  A Nick Johnson jumper (his only basket of the game, assisted by Nick Guadarrama).  And a three from Marco Foster.  The Wildcats had separation (7 points) with 1:49 remaining.

The Bearcats (11-15) stopped the run with a three, but Marco was back with another three returning the margin to seven points with fifty-four seconds left.

“Marco made two enormous three’s,” said Coach Herrion.  “He had five against NJIT and four today.  He’s a big-time shooter.”

Blondeau Tchoukulegano (13 points) guarded by John McGriff (12 points)

That last-minute three was discussed at the press conference because there was plenty of shot-clock left in what was then a four-point game.

“When you have an elite 3-point shooter you have to let them go when there’s space,” said Coach Herrion.

I asked Marco about the two shots. “It felt great to make them,” he said.  “You want to hit the big one.  You stay positive.”

Regarding the shot he took with time left on the shot clock in the last minute, he smiled and said, “I was very happy that one went in.”

Free throws late in the game

The Wildcats hit six straight free throws after Marco’s three to secure the victory.

The final regular-season game is Tuesday night at the Tsongas Arena vs UMass Lowell.

“It all comes down to playing well in March,” said Coach Herrion.  “We’re looking to get a home game in the tournament.  We’re 10-3 at home.  We’ve had a very good year here.”

Coach Herrion gave an explanation as to why, beyond Vermont, so many of the rest of the teams are so competitive.  “Teams are recruiting out of the transfer portal,” he said.  “Therefore, teams can reload quickly.  That’s why very few freshmen play.”

Christian Hinckson had a big game for Binghamton finishing with a double/double (fifteen points and fourteen rebounds).

Nick Guadarrama passes

UNH’s Nick Guadarrama had an impressive stat line: 16 points, 7-for-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.

“Nick was terrific the whole game,” said Coach Herrion.  “He was good around the basket where we didn’t have much of an inside presence.”

Marco Foster finished with fourteen points while teammate Blondeau Tchoukulegno added thirteen points.

Binghamton lost to UNH, 69-60, two weeks ago at Binghamton. 

John McGriff

After that game, BU coach Levell Sanders cited the 13 offensive rebounds which led to 14 second-chance points as a key in the loss.

Things didn’t improve too much for the Bearcats this time around.  UNH had 11 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points.

Vermont has now won the AEC six straight years.

Today was Senior Day at UNH.  Tayler Mattos, Qon Murphy, Nick Guadarrama, and Jayden Martinez were honored.

Senior Day

Jayden had ten points today.  He needs twelve more to reach 1000 points.  Maybe at Lowell on Tuesday?

Thanks again to Mike Murphy for enabling my visit to this game.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

UNH band
Battle on the boards
Nick Guadarrama in for two
Pressure defense
UNH cheerleaders
Kellen Amos
Jayden Martinez (10 points)

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Newburyport wins Gieras Tourney 68-48 over North Andover

Newburyport Clippers win Gieras Tournament
Emma Foley (21 points)

(Danvers MA) North Andover had a five-point lead in the first half and was tied with Newburyport early in the second half.

That was the good news for the (10-9) Knights.

The Clippers (18-2) overwhelmed NA the rest of the way.

The win, at Danvers High School, gained the tournament title for Newburyport in the Ed Gieras Memorial Tournament on Wednesday night.

“This was a really satisfying win,” said Clippers coach Karen Grutchfield afterwards.  “We showed up to play against a good team.”

Jackie Rogers (13 points)

The Knights were able to hang around thanks to long-range accuracy.  Katie Robie (12 points) and freshman Sydney Rogers each had a pair of 3-pointers to keep the game close in the early going.

In the second half, the Knights lost the outside touch and couldn’t contend with a Clippers’ team that had four players in double figures.

Junior Emma Foley was the tourney MVP.  Emma thrived against single coverage around the basket.  When NA opted to send extra defensive help it opened opportunities for other Clippers.  On this night, those “other” players; Makenna Ward (17 points), Olivia McDonald (14 points), and Deirdre McElhinney, (12 points) all needed individual attention.

Makenna Ward (17 points)

“We distributed the scoring pretty well,” said Coach Grutchfield.

“There are no excuses for the way we played in the second half,” said NA coach Jess Deveny post-game.

“When you don’t play well in the defensive end, it translates into not doing well in the offensive end,” she added.

The Clippers put up forty-four points in the second half.  They had consecutive point-runs of ten and eight in the third quarter and fourteen in the final quarter.

Hannah Martin (14 points)

The 26-26 tie turned into 36-26 in the third quarter and 54-34 in the last quarter. 

Most of the Newburyport baskets had assists attached to them. Their passing was good, and they also converted several offensive rebounds.

“Newburyport got hot,” said Coach Deveny.  “They were making all their shots.  They’re a great squad.  They’re in the top twenty in D2.”

Sydney Turner surrounded

North Andover is in the Merrimack Valley Conference and is used to a regular dose of tough competition.

“Every night is a battle in the MVC,” said Coach Deveny.  “If you’re not ready, this is what happens.”

“Sydney Turner was special for us tonight,” said Coach Grutchfield.  “She does all the little things and tonight she guarded their best player.”

Olivia McDonald (14 points)

Hannah Martin paced North Andover with fourteen points and was named to the all-tourney team.  Olivia McDonald did a pretty good job of defending her.  Olivia also had fourteen points including nine in the last quarter.

Makenna Ward finished with seventeen points and that earned her a spot on the all-tourney team.  Makenna had a fast-break layup (assisted by Olivia McDonald) and a three-pointer when the Clippers gained the ten-point separation in the third quarter.

North Andover defeated Reading (58-44) to reach tonight’s final.  Newburyport had a win over Danvers (59-34) to get to the championship game.

Katie Robie had four three-pointers for the Knights.

Newburyport        9   15   21   23   =   68

North Andover   10   13     7   18   =   48

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Makenna Ward
Deirdre McElhinney
Battle for a rebound
Katie Robie and Emma Foley
Jackie Rogers (13 points)
Janie Papell
Hannah Martin
Makenna Ward, Emma Foley, Hannah Martin
Newburyport box
North Andover box

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Souhegan defeats ConVal 53-51 in OT to capture DII title

Souhegan wins DII state title
Keegan Burke gave Souhegan the lead for good in OT with 2 free throws

(Durham NH) Souhegan ran away but couldn’t hide.

ConVal chased and chased finally catching the Sabers late in the third quarter.

Then the fun began!

“There were ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows after that,” said Souhegan coach Pete Pierce afterwards.

The Sabers came away with the DII title, 53-51, in overtime on Sunday afternoon at UNH.

“The difference was a couple of plays,” added Coach Pierce, “and luckily things went our way.”

Joe Gutwein (21 points)

The Cougars (18-4) had a two-point first quarter and trailed by as many as ten points in that quarter.

“ConVal is a great team, and we knew that they would go into a run,” said junior Joe Bernasconi post-game.

It took a while, but the Cougars finally tied things up (28-28) late in the third quarter after a three and a free throw from Malachi Page (11 points).

Joe Bernasconi and John McBride with the hardware

From that point on until the final thirty seconds of overtime this was a one-possession game.  Exciting and crowd pleasing?  You bet!

Three lead changes closed the third quarter while three lead changes and a tie score were the story of the fourth quarter.

The Cougar’s Joe Gutwein (21 points) put in the clutch free throws with a minute left to set up overtime.  Both teams had a possession after Joe’s free throws.  Terrific defense by Malachi Page stopped a Sabers’ drive and Austin Knight nearly ended the game with a half-court rim-out at the buzzer.

There were two more lead changes in the four-minute overtime. 

Owen Michaels

Keegan Burke’s two free throws with 1:24 remaining gave Souhegan (20-1) the lead for good. 

Key play ahead alert!  A rebound by John McBride (15 rebounds) led to an outlet pass to Nolan Colby.  Nolan looked up and saw teammate Joe Bernasconi cutting toward the basket on the other side. 

“Nolan picked his head up and gave me a perfect pass,” recalled Joe.  “He did all the work there.  I just had to make the layup.”

Joe Bernasconi layup in closing OT minute

And Joe did to put the Sabers up by three (49-46) in the last minute.

A steal by Nolan added a free-throw point and after another ConVal miss, Joe added two more freebies to extend the Souhegan lead to six points and seal the deal for the Sabers.

“This game could have gone either way,” said a disappointed Owen Michaels afterwards.  “It felt good when we came back in the fourth quarter.  I felt that we had momentum going into OT but we kind of fell apart as a team.”

Matt Canavan (19 points)

Matt Canavan (19 points) took a heavy fall in the fourth quarter on a drive to the basket.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen after that,” he told me.  “I just needed a few minutes to get it together and then knock down some free throws.”

“It was a fabulous game,” said Coach Pierce.  “It was high school basketball at its best.”

The title was Souhegan’s first since 2004.

Clutch defense by Malachi Page

“This has been my dream since middle school,” said Joe Bernasconi.  “I can’t even believe it right now.  We came through so many challenges this season.”

6-7” John McBride saw limited action because of foul trouble but still gathered fifteen rebounds.  “Those fouls are what I get for being the biggest guy on the court,” he said laughing.

“I’m just so proud of this team,” John added.  “I never thought I’d really be here.”

Matt Canavan: “We knew we should win, and we were confident coming into the game.  We made the plays when we had to.”

Owen McGwire (15 points and 7 rebounds)

Coach Pierce: “We held them in check for a while and then we couldn’t hold them to anything.  What a game!”

Great crowd at Lundholm Gym.  And there was plenty to cheer about for both sides.

The only loss for Souhegan was to Lebanon on January 24th.  The Sabers finished with a seven-game winning streak.

Souhegan   10   11    9   12   11   =   53

ConVal          2   15   17    8     9    =   51

Thanks to UNH’s Doug Poole for the game stats.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Coach Pete Pierce
Family celebration
Souhegan student section
Souhegan celebrates
Joe Bernasconi at the line in OT
Austin Knight shoots at the end of regulation
Christian Buffum rebounds
Nolan Colby (12 points and 3 steals)
Joe Bernasconi
Austin Knight
Malachi Page
Christian Buffum
John McBride looks for someone to pass to
Joe Gutwein
Nolan Colby

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Cam Keliher reaches 1000 points in Amesbury’s 63-38 win over Kipp Academy

Cam Keliher reaches 1000 points
Cam on a baseline drive

(Amesbury MA) Good things happened in the second half for Amesbury.

Cam Keliher reached 1000 points and the Amesbury defense came to life.

The Indians (12-8) finished their regular season with a win over Kipp Academy, 63-38, on Thursday night.

Now Amesbury will wait until the MIAA tournament starts on February 28th.

Rebound battle

“We’re working on finding a scrimmage somewhere during the time off,” said Coach Comeau afterwards.

Cam Keliher needed seventeen points to reach a thousand and had sixteen in the first half.

Several minutes into the second half, the AHS senior drove the left baseline and collected the point he needed.  Play was immediately stopped and plenty of pictures were taken with teammates and family.

“This is a dream come true,” said Cam afterwards.  “So many people helped me to get to this point and I want to thank them all including family, coaches, and teammates.”

Matt Welch (15 points)

“Cam’s been working for this for a long time,” said teammate/friend Matt Welch post-game.  “He been stressing about it a bit but now he’s got it.  I’m happy for him.”

The attention around Cam going for a special point total was understandably a distraction.  Instead of overwhelming the 3-13 Panthers from the get-go, the Indians gave the visitors too many chances and missed too many shots.

Halftime seemed to help.

Juan Setel-Singh (9 points)

“I let them have it at halftime,” said AHS coach Tom Comeau.  “They all knew that Cam had something happening today but that shouldn’t have affected their defensive intensity.”

After two minutes of direct talk on defensive intensity, the Indians were on the floor for eight minutes of organized shooting.

The results in both areas were noticeable in the second half.

A three by junior Juan Setal-Singh put the Panthers (3-14) within a possession (26-23) of the lead after 1 ½ minutes of second-half play.

Then the tide turned.

Rocco Kokinacis and Hakim Badmus

The Indians put nine straight unanswered points together.  Among the collection were the points that Cam needed to reach 1000.  Rocco Kokinacis had a three and a rebound basket before Cam’s historic basket.  Matt Welch (15 points) scored on a layup after it.

On defense, Amesbury activated a 2-2-1 zone defense.  The Panthers really struggled against it.

“We’ve seen a lot of 2-2-1,” said Kipp coach Brian Tobin afterwards.  “It doesn’t always bother us but today it quickly became a turnover-fest.”

Amesbury coach Tom Comeau

The score was 38-26 with a minute left in the third period.  The next 3+ minutes of playing time belonged totally to the home team.

Amesbury tallied sixteen straight points and gained permanent separation (54-26) from the team from Lynn with nearly six minutes of playing time remaining.

Matt Welch had nine points during the run of good offense and defense.

Matt Welch in for two

The Indians lead grew to thirty (61-31) several minutes later.

“Our effort was good for a half,” said Coach Tobin.  “Once we got down things snowballed.”

Coach Comeau: “The mindset was changed in the second half.  Sometimes a team needs a wakeup call.  They responded well.”

Matt Welch: “I’ve played AAU with him for eight years.  He’s just a great kid to play with.  He’s a good friend and a teammate.  He’s like a brother to me.”

Amesbury   11   14   17   21   =   63

Kipp               9      8     9   12   =   38

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Last home game
Scramble on the floor
Henry O’Neill in for a layup
Chasing a loose ball
Nick Marden on the glass
Christian Encarnacion
Cam Keliher guarding Jaythean Im
More defense
Trosky Pena
Nick Marden surrounded
Matt Heidt defends
1000-point scorers (Cam Keliher and Avery Hallinan)
Kipp Academy box
Amesbury box

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Bow wins DII state semis 42-26 over Pembroke

The Bow half-court defense was tight most of the game
Alex Larrabee (16 points)

(Kingston NH) “We never got into a flow,” said Pembroke coach Steve Langevin afterwards.

Bow did and they advanced to the DII finals on Sunday night at UNH with a 42-26 win on Wednesday night at Sanborn High School.

The Spartans (17-3) struggled shooting all night long. 

The Falcons (19-2) took the lead from the get-go and never trailed.

“We’ve been averaging in the 40’s but we could never get a run going tonight,” said Coach Langevin.

Cierra Hill and Annelise Dexter double-team Madison Speckman

Bow’s shooting wasn’t great but comparatively it was more than enough.

Bow’s Alex Larrabee (16 points) and Jess Chamberlain (11 points) led all scorers.

Undefeated Hanover (19-0) will be Bow’s opponent in the title game.  Hanover overwhelmed the Spartans, 50-28, in December. 

The Falcons have certainly improved since then.  “Bow is playing much more to their strengths than they were earlier in the year,” said Coach Langevin.  “They’re now setting up (Jess) Chamberlain and (Alex) Larrabee for those little jumpers.  They drive and kick to them.”

Rebound battle

The Falcons also lost to Pembroke in December but played tonight as if that loss was a distant memory.

“We played some good defense tonight and couldn’t throw it in the ocean for a while,” explained Bow coach Phil Davis post-game.  “But our defense enabled us to hang around.”

“Our half-court defense was what changed the game today,” Coach Davis added.  “We knew who their scorers were, and we knew we had to shut them down.  We face-guarded Ashley Stephens and Annelise Dexter the whole game.”

Battle for control

Bow scored the first five points and moved their lead to double figures (16-6) three minutes into the second quarter when Jess Chamberlain converted a rebound.

In the third quarter, junior Alex Larrabee increased the Falcons margin to fifteen (28-13) with an inside spin move and two free throws.

The Spartans finally showed some offensive life in the final quarter.  A three from Taylor Renna and two free throws (Ashley Stephens – 10 points) cut the Bow lead to nine points (30-21) with 5 ½ minutes left.

But Bow followed with a long possession (There’s no shot clock) that ended with senior Madison Speckman finding an open lane to a layup.  The Falcons lead was now double figures again and Pembroke couldn’t get closer the rest of the way.

Taylor Renna made two 3’s

“We broke their press very well,” said Coach Langevin, “and we held them down with our defense, but we couldn’t get our offense going.”

“We’ve prided ourselves on our defense the entire season,” said Jess Chamberlain.  “We know that if our offense isn’t clicking our defense will always be there.”

“We were well prepared for this game,” said junior Lyndsey LaPerle afterwards.  “I think we tired them with our press.  We didn’t give space.  We were always up on them and trying to force turnovers.”

Bella LaPerle (8 points)

“We had great energy tonight,” added Bella LaPerle.  “We wanted to start strong, and we did and got our momentum going.”

Coach Davis: “Syd Roberge is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end.  She can shut down anyone.  She did a good job on Ashley Stephens tonight.  It’s just effort.  She’s a taller version of the LaPerles’”

Coach Langevin: “One of the hardest things is meeting with a team just after they’ve played, and lost, their last game.  I told the girls that they made themselves relevant this year.  Our seniors were 8-37 their first two seasons.  Bow was expected to be here, we weren’t.  But we did make it to the state semifinals.”

Britney Hill

The last time I saw these two teams playing was in the DII soccer title game in November at Exeter.  Bow got that game into OT in the last minute and then won the game in overtime.

           Bow   9   11   8   14   =   42

Pembroke    3     6   7   10   =   26

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Bow box
Pembroke box
Bow celebrating begins
Bella to Lyndsey
Syd Roberge and Ashley Stephens
Madison Speckman guarded by Cierra Hill
Shot blocker over her shoulder
Ashley Stephens goes under and up
Cierra Hill
Lyndsey LaPerle
Bella LaPerle
Kaitlin Arenella and Jess Chamberlain
Alex Larrabee

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James Scali (34 points) leads Newburyport past North Andover 69-59

James Scali (34 points)
Ronan Brown (14 points)

(Newburyport MA) Maybe it was the pre-game meal.

“I made some pasta before the game and maybe it gave me some extra energy,” joked Newburyport’s James Scali regarding his impressive performance.

Whatever it was, James had a special night against visiting North Andover and led the Clippers to a, 69-59, win on Tuesday night.

James tallied a career high thirty-four points and spread the points out.  The NHS senior had ten in the first quarter when the Clippers got off to a great start and fourteen in the final quarter when the Knights got inside the ten-point deficit.

Brody McGratty leaps for a block

“James has been telling us that he can give us more,” said Newburyport coach Dave Clay afterwards.  “Tonight, he certainly did just that.”

The Knights (8-7) got off to a bad start.  “We got into a hole early and couldn’t really claw back,” said NA coach Paul Tanglis post-game.  “They spread you out and they can shoot the ball.”

It took NA four minutes to get any points.  Meanwhile, the Clippers (12-5) ran off twelve straight points.

A Ronan Brown three and a Finn Brennan drive surrounded three inside scores and a free throw by James gave Newburyport its first twelve points.

Drew Connolly (11 points)

The Knights trailed the entire game.  They did, however, get within five points in the second quarter (27-22) and the third quarter (36-31). 

James Scali answered the second quarter threat with a triple and a layup.

The Clippers reaction to the third quarter threat was impressive.  After Jack O’Connell’s layup made the score, 36-31, with 5 ½ minutes left in the third quarter, the Clippers defense didn’t allow NA to score for the rest of the quarter.  Meanwhile, the Clippers offense racked up eleven straight points and they led at quarter’s end, 47-31.

Finn Sullivan guarded by Zach Wolinski

Five Clippers (Finn Sullivan, Ronan, Adam Bovee, James, and Will Thoreson) combined for the eleven points.

Newburyport elevated their lead to eighteen points (49-31) to start the final quarter.  NA did not go away.  They pressed and they made shots and had themselves a 28-point quarter.  But the big deficit was just too much to overcome for the visitors from the Merrimack Valley Conference.

“We couldn’t get the multiple stops in a row,” said Coach Tanglis.  “This is a tough place to play, and they are a good team.  We obviously didn’t do a good job on #4 (James Scali).”

James Scali to the basket

North Andover defeated Newburyport, 60-58, on January 9th at North Andover.  In that loss, James had one point.

“I just felt more aggressive tonight,” said James.  “I have gotten more confident as the season has progressed.  I’m looking to score more now.”

“I can’t tell you how much time James has put in,” added Coach Clay.  “I think of where he was and where he is now.  It’s so cool to see the confidence in him.  Plus, he’s so kind and polite.”

Zach Wolinski guarded by Henry Acton

Another key to tonight’s win was the solid defense the Clippers displayed against NA sophomore Zach Wolinski.  Zach lit up Newburyport for thirty-two points in the first game.

Tonight, Finn Sullivan and Henry Acton took turns playing tight man-to-man defense against him.  Zach did make a couple of three’s, and finished with eleven points.

“Finn and Henry were really determined to stop him,” said Coach Clay.  “He took over the game last time but those two were up to the challenge this time.”

All five of the Knights’ starters reached double figures: Brody McGratty (14), Jack O’Connell (13), Zach Wolinski (11), Drew Connolly (11), and D’Andre King (10).

D’Andre King (10 points)

Senior Ronan Brown finished with fourteen points for the Clippers.

This was the second straight night a Newburyport player registered a career game.  Last night it was Emma Foley with thirty-one points.

Newburyport   17   15   15   22   =   69

North Andover   6   18    7    28   =   59

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Adam Bovee rebounds
Zach Faro
Zach Wolinski and Finn Sullivan
Finn Brennan goes up for a shot in the lane
Coach Paul Tanglis
Jack O’Connell goes for a block
Newburyport box
North Andover box
Brody McGratty (14 points)

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Emma Foley (31 points) leads Newburyport past Haverhill 58-35

Junior Emma Foley reached a career-high thirty-one points vs Haverhill
Sydney Turner honored pre-game

(Newburyport MA) The Haverhill Hillies were on the wrong end of Emma Foley’s career game.

“We couldn’t stop her,” said Haverhill coach Melissa Tarpy afterwards.  “She had a ton of points.”

Thirty-one, to be exact.

“It was the best I’ve done,” said Emma post-game.

Emma’s big night was the key in Newburyport’s 58-35 win over Haverhill on Monday night.

Haley Phillips (24) had fifteen points

“I definitely couldn’t have scored all those points without some great looks from Sydney (Turner), Makenna (Ward), and Deirdre (McElhinney),” said Emma.  “They did a really good job of finding me tonight.”

The Hillies (3-14) used a man-to-man defense in the first half.  The Clippers (15-2) countered by spreading out and putting Emma close to the basket.  With single coverage and space to operate, Emma went to work.

The two teams played a week ago and Newburyport only won by eight points (54-46).

Haverhill defense tightened in the second half

“I didn’t put the ball in the hoop very well,” said Emma of the sixteen points she had at Haverhill.

No such problem tonight.

The Clippers were up, 19-8, after a quarter and Emma already had eighteen points!  The variety of scoring maneuvers was impressive.  There were assisted baskets in close, mixed in with a rebound basket as well as one on a full-court drive.

A three-pointer by Haley Phillips (15 points) had the Hillies within two points (8-6).  Emma answered with nine straight points and Deirdre McElhinney (11 points) added a free throw.  Suddenly the NHS lead was twelve points (18-6).

Deirdre McElhinney (11 points)

In the second quarter, a three by Sydney Spencer set the score at 21-11 a minute into that quarter.

The game got away from Haverhill in the next four minutes.

The Clippers scored fifteen unanswered points to lead, 36-11, and took the mystery out of the outcome.

“We kept making mistakes,” said Coach Tarpy.

Lesha Burgos

Deirdre and Emma each had six points during the consecutive run of great offense and defense.

The Hillies played much better in the second half.  They switched to a zone defense and the easy passes to Emma Foley near the basket disappeared.  And when Emma did get the ball, she had to deal with multiple defenders. 

Emma still was able to add seven points to her 24-point first half and end up with a career-best thirty-one points.  The score difference kept Emma on the bench for some of the fourth quarter or she might have added to her total.

Sydney Turner breaks away

The biggest cheer of the night?  It wasn’t for Emma.  It was for Sydney Turner after she stole a pass and turned it into her first points of the night. 

It was Senior Day and Sydney is Newburyport’s only senior.  Sydney had a nice group of friends/family with “Syd” shirts on in attendance.

“I’m so proud of Sydney,” said Clippers coach Karen Grutchfield afterwards.  “We always put her on the other team’s best offensive player.”

Sydney Turner guards Kya Burdier

Emma had nine rebounds and her sister (Olivia) had five rebounds.  Makenna Ward had five steals.

I asked Emma about the 63-45 loss to Pentucket last Thursday: “We had breakdowns all over the court.  We struggled to score in the second half, and they were getting layup after layup.  When we do a good job of stopping the drives, we play well. It didn’t help that Makenna and I had four fouls.  It was tough to play defense with those fouls.  Hopefully, we’ll see them again.”

Newburyport   19   17   11   11   =   58

Haverhill             8     7    12     8   =   35

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Olivia McDonald double-teamed
Anna Seidel guarded by Kya Burdier
Yaribel Pena
Ball on the floor
Janisa Price
Sydney Spencer guarded by Olivia McDonald
Makenna Ward guards Janisa Price
Kya Burdier and Emma Foley
Newburyport box
Haverhill box

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Amesbury makes tourney after 78-69 win

Cam Keliher (23 points) and Ray Cuevas (38 points)
Ray Cuevas

(Amesbury MA) Ray Cuevas was impressive.

The Ipswich junior added thirty-eight points tonight to the thirty-two he had two days ago against Manchester-Essex.

“Our game plan was to try to take away #24 (Ray Cuevas),” said Amesbury coach Tom Comeau afterwards, “but it was tough to do that.”

The Indians (10-8) found ways to succeed defensively in the third quarter and that was where they gained the permanent separation that led to a, 78-69, victory on Saturday night.

Cam Keliher

Amesbury has now clinched a berth in the MIAA post-season tournament.

Matt Welch had sixteen points in the first half but went out early with a broken nose at the start of the second half.

Matt’s departure opened offensive opportunities for senior Cam Keliher who had some of his own health issues.

“Last night at practice I had some back spasms,” said Cam.  “It was pretty rough this morning and I didn’t think I would be able to go tonight.  But I got it treated. I didn’t want to miss a chance to qualify for the tournament.”

Matt Welch left with an injury

The Indians trailed, 37-34, at halftime.  A Rocco Kokinacis layup tied things at 46-46 with 4 ½ minutes left in the third quarter.

The next four minutes, Amesbury shut down the Tigers completely while Cam went on a nine-point scoring run.

“Cam took over like he can,” said Coach Comeau.

First there was a three and then a free throw.  Next was a steal that led to a layup followed by another three.  When that dust settled Ipswich was behind, 55-46, and never fully recovered.

Toby Adams (14 points)

Ray Cuevas went back to finding ways to score after that (17 points) but Amesbury on this evening displayed assorted weapons on offense that kept Ipswich from getting within one possession the rest of the way.

Cam ended up with a nineteen-point second half and twenty-three points for the game.

“We just gave up too many points,” said Ipswich coach Alan Laroche post-game.  “They had some guys who stepped up for them in the second half.  There were big three’s at the end.”

Rocco Kokinacis (9 points) and Matt Heidt (7 points) each had three-pointers for Amesbury in the final four minutes of playing time.

Tight defense

What a difference a month makes.  On January 14th, Amesbury defeated Ipswich, 80-59, in a game that the Indians led by twenty at halftime.

Ipswich’s most impressive win this season was two days ago when they defeated Manchester-Essex.  The Hornets had won nine straight and were undefeated (9-0) in the Cape Ann League, but the Tigers changed that.

“Ipswich is a real good team,” said Coach Comeau. 

Junior Toby Adams, who had nineteen against ME, had fourteen points tonight against Amesbury.

Defending against an inbounds pass

The Tigers (7-10) had an eight-point lead (13-5) in the first quarter.  In the same quarter the score was tied six times including at the end (19-19).

“24 (Ray Cuevas) was killing us in the first half,” said Cam.  “We pressed up on him and double-teamed him.  He’s a good player.”

Coach Laroche informed me that Ray has received some interest from several post-graduate schools. “Without a doubt, he can play at the next level,” he added.

Max Lapointe guards Tyler White

“Ray is learning how to get by guys,” said Coach Laroche, “and how to attack the corners.  He’s also finding open guys when he needs to.”

Coach Comeau: “When Matty went out the rest of the team stepped up, especially Cam.  To me, Cam should be the player-of-the-year in the Cape Ann League.”

Amesbury   19   15   21   23   =   78

Ipswich        19   18   11   21   =   69

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Max Chesley elevates
Jake Hallinan guarded by Ray Cuevas
Cam Keliher defended by Isaiah Gonzalez
Max Chesley
Matt Welch defends
Ray Cuevas
Nick Marden guards Ray Cuevas
Players on the floor
Thatch Phypers
Charlie Henderson
Henry O’Neill on defense
Amesbury box
Ipswich box

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Pingree edges Governor’s 33-29

Gov’s Isabelle Ferdinando in front of a large crowd
Callie Batchelder guards Sam Jones (9 points)

(Hamilton MA) Both coaches raved about the atmosphere, and it deserved to be raved about.

“It’s what high school basketball is about,” said Pingree coach Dave Latimer afterwards.  “It was Friday night lights with the whole school cheering you on.”

“I loved the atmosphere,” said Governor’s coach Ceci Reyes post-game.  “It was incredible.  Pingree definitely came out for their Senior Day.  It was great to see some of the Govs’ red out there.”

There weren’t a lot of points to cheer about but plenty of scrappy play to excite the large crowd as Pingree defeated Govs, 33-29, on Friday night.

Battle for control

The tenacious defense played by both teams had a serious impact on the attempts at organized offense by both teams.  Open shots were few and jump balls were in abundance.

Governor’s (3-10) had leads in the first, second, and final quarters.  In fact, the visitors from Byfield were only down a point in the last minute of the game (30-29) after a three by Fiona Neilon (10 points).

Fiona Neilon brought Govs within a point with this three
Shot block

The Govs had the ball twice after that. One time a shot was blocked, and another time had a near-miss three by Anique St. Laurent.

Down the other end, junior Sam Jones hit two free throws with thirty seconds left and another one with eight seconds to go.  Sam’s free throws sealed the win for the Highlanders (10-6).

“It was stressful shooting those free throws with the crowd being so intense,” said Sam afterwards.  “But we had practiced yesterday with super-loud music on.”

Bella Vaz (9 points)

“Sam is a coach on the floor,” said Coach Latimer.  “She is a true point guard who facilitates everyone.  It was huge to see her make those shots down the stretch.”

The key to the win for Pingree may well have been the return to action of Bella Vaz.  The sophomore drained three 3’s and in a low-scoring game her nine points were large.

“Bella injured her ankle twice and we haven’t had her since mid-December,” said Coach Latimer.  “She had nineteen points in two of the three games she was able to play in before the second injury.  We know she can put points on the board, and it was great to have her back today.”


“I am so glad to have Bella back,” added Sam.  “We are kind of a dynamic duo out there.  She definitely makes everyone better.”

“It has been hard watching from the bench,” said Bella.  “I am so happy to be able to play.”

Bella’s second three-pointer gave the Highlanders their largest lead (22-15) in the last minute of the first half.

Credit Governor’s, they had that lead reduced to a point (25-24) at the end of the third quarter.  Gracie Augustine had a rebound basket and a layup while teammate Fiona Nielon made a free throw and added a three during the comeback.

Gracie Augustine rebounds

Neither team could gain separation in the final quarter until Sam Jones drained three free throws in the last thirty seconds.

“I always say that we need to turn losses into lessons,” said Coach Reyes.  “Tonight, we needed to do a better job of committing to our defensive assignments and knowing where the shooters are.”

Sam Jones regarding the crowd: “I know that all of us were really nervous before the game.  I honestly didn’t expect so many people to come.  I actually had tears in my eyes when we first came running out because it was so overwhelming.

“Govs plays so hard,” explained Coach Latimer.  “I give their coach a lot of credit.  We’re friendly rivals.”

Callie Batchelder

“Our student body really came out,” added Coach Latimer.  “They don’t usually do that unless it’s Govs or a very big game.  I think that there is mutual respect on both sides.”

Pingree seniors Lexi Garcia and Avery Robillard were honored before the game.

Pingree   9   13   3   8   =   33

Govs        8     8   8   5   =   29

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Governor’s box
Pingree’s box
Pingree student body starts celebrating
Cece Batchelder looks to drive
Julia St. Laurent breaks in for a layup
Hannah Shields on defense
Emily Norton made two three’s
Anique St. Laurent
Lexi Garcia
Anique St. Laurent and Lyla Campbell
Lyla Campbell and Fiona Neilon
Pingree seniors honored

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