(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.
“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.
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.
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).”
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.”
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).
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.)