(Newburyport MA) Newburyport has become a team that is hard to defend.
Who knows who will have the hot hand on any given night?
Tonight, it was Max Gagnon. The speedy Newburyport senior had twenty-two points including eighteen in the first half.
Max held the Clippers (10-4) together tonight in the first half against the red-hot Amesbury Indians.
When Amesbury cooled off in the second half, the Clippers were able to catch up and pull away to a, 74-62, win on Tuesday night.
Both teams had plenty of active support in the stands and there was a tournament feel to the game from beginning to end.
“I loved the energy in the game,” said freshman Finn Brennan afterwards. Finn had sixteen points and fifteen rebounds for the Clippers.
Both teams played at a fast pace.
Amesbury (8-5) turned NHS misses into long-pass layups in the first quarter. The Indians had their biggest lead of the game (20-7) in the last minute after a Matt Welch (16 points) layup assisted by Cam Keliher.
The Clippers refused to go away, however, thanks to Max Gagnon. Max made three’s, got to the basket, and made free throws.
“They were falling, so I kept on shooting,” recalled Max.
Newburyport trailed by just two points (37-35) at the half as James Scali (11 points) hit a three very late in the second quarter.
You wondered how long the Indians would be able to hang onto the lead in the second half.
It was actually five minutes of playing time. Consecutive baskets by Nick Marden gave Amesbury its last lead, 46-45.
A three (Ronan Brown), a rebound basket (Finn Brennan), and another three (Will Thoreson) followed and suddenly the home team had a six-point lead, 53-47. The Clippers would hold the lead the rest of the way.
“We started the game strong,” said Cam Keliher (25 points) post-game, “but in the third quarter it got away from us when they started making three’s.”
“We got out of sorts in the 4th quarter and started forcing shots,” recalled AHS coach Tom Comeau, “and then the shots didn’t go in.”
Once Newburyport had the lead, they changed their style of play. “We executed our plays more in the second half and got some easy baskets,” said Max.
Amesbury took chances defensively trying to get the ball back and Newburyport reacted by passing and cutting to create high-percentage shots that helped them pull away in the final quarter.
“We don’t have time to hang our heads over this one,” said Coach Comeau. “We have several games before we play in the Boston Garden on Saturday night.”
James Scali: “It was the best offensive performance I’ve ever seen him (Max Gagnon) have. He did a lot of work in the off-season.”
I asked Max Gagnon afterwards if maybe his pre-game lunch had something to do with his career-game. “I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch,” he said with a smile.
Newburyport 12 23 20 19 = 74
Amesbury 20 17 14 11 = 62
(The pictures will enlarge.)