(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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.)