Category Archives: Pentucket

Pentucket wins CAL title 63-45 over Newburyport

Great crowd on hand for tonight’s game
Abby Dube (19 points)

(Newburyport MA) “Everyone did their job, and it was fun to watch,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

Fun for the team from West Newbury for sure, as they defeated Newburyport, 63-45, in a big-stakes Cape Ann League game on Thursday night.

The win gave the Sachems (13-2) the CAL Kinney Division title.

“They won by ten last time,” said Abby Dube (19 points), “and we’ve been working so hard to beat them.”

The Clippers (14-2) started well.  Olivia McDonald’s three put them up, 11-5.  Later, two baskets by Makenna Ward (19 points) in the last minute extended the NHS lead to, 18-10, at the end of the quarter.

Makenna Ward (19 points)

The Clippers were making shots and gathering offensive rebounds when they didn’t.

It took a backup defense and some life off the bench to turn things around for Pentucket.

“We don’t use that zone defense a lot, but we did tonight and I think it got them out of their rhythm,” said Coach McNamara.

The offensive rebounds decreased for the Clippers and their top scorer (Emma Foley) had to deal with multiple defenders on each possession.

Gabby Bellacqua (14 points)

“We put the first quarter behind us and played to win the next three quarters,” said Abby Dube.

The pleasant surprises off the bench were Bethany Cloutier and Ava DiBurro. 

Bethany gave Pentucket its first lead of the game (22-21) with an old-fashioned three-point play with two minutes left in the second quarter.

Ava DiBurro (11 points)

Ava (11 points) was the biggest surprise of all. In the most important game of the season, she came in, fit in, and produced points.

“Ava’s a talented kid,” said Coach McNamara.  “We’ve been waiting for this to happen.  Ava sure picked a great night to have a breakout game.  She has good finishing skills.”

Pentucket led by four, 26-22, at the half.

The Clippers got a terrific start to the second half.  They regained the lead (27-26) after just a minute. 

Deirdre McElhinney (10 points)

But an Abby Dube layup put Pentucket back in front (28-27) thirty seconds later and they would build on that lead the rest of the way.

A big problem for the home team in the third quarter was foul trouble.  Both Makenna Ward and Emma Foley (10 points) picked up their 4th fouls and lost time on the floor.  Both girls can score and defend, and the Clippers lost a lot in both categories with them on the bench.

Pentucket pushed their advantage to six (33-27) in the third quarter on two Alyssa Thompson (10 points) free throws.

Lana Mickelson

With Makenna on the bench for the final two minutes of the quarter, the Sachems turned that six-point lead into a twelve-point lead (46-34) by the end of the quarter.  Lana Mickelson contributed two layups and Abby Dube nailed a jump shot just before the quarter-ending buzzer.

Early in the final quarter, Makenna Ward and Deirdre McElhinney (10 points) hit consecutive three’s to cut the Pentucket lead to nine (50-41) with 6 ½ minutes left.  A quick timeout by Coach McNamara was followed by eleven straight points by the Sachems.  Ava DiBurro finished the run with two straight inside scores giving Pentucket a twenty-point lead (61-41).

Olivia McDonald plays defense

Newburyport was undefeated at home (7-0) before tonight’s loss.

Emma Lopata: “We had really good energy from start to finish.  The team is always supportive of each other.”

Abby Dube: “It felt amazing to win this one.  We knew we could do it.”

Audrey Conover: “It was definitely a high-energy game.  I think that our defense was the key tonight.  Abby (Dube) really pulled through on offense.  She was making everything.”

Alyssa Thompson: “We started off slow.  We talked at halftime about working together as a team.  We then passed the ball more.”

Alyssa Thompson (10 points)

Ava DiBurro: “We really wanted to beat them.  I just tried to do what the team needed me to do.  I’m playing better, but there are things I need to work on.”

Coach McNamara: “Newburyport is a good team.  They should make a deep run in the tournament.  From the second quarter on we played really good basketball.  We took care of the ball, and we minimized our turnovers.”

Great crowd from both schools.  The crowd was mostly adults.  Absent, but not missed by me, was the chanting that goes on when the crowd is dominated by students.

Emma Foley (10 points)

Both teams are in Division 2.  Back in the day, only one of them could have made it out of the North sectionals.  That changes now with the MIAA state-wide power rankings determining the seeding.  Pentucket is currently listed behind Newburyport in those rankings but that will change after tonight’s game.

Pentucket         10   16   20   17   =   63

Newburyport   18     4   12   11   =   45

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Chasing a loose ball
Abby Dube in the lane
Ava DiBurro
Pentucket box
Newburyport box
Audrey Conover guarded by Olivia McDonald
Deirdre McElhinney drives
Pentucket celebrates
Pentucket celebrates CAL Kinney title

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Pentucket defeats Triton 60-16

Audrey Conover had a big game on offense and defense
Alyssa Thompson (13 points) guards Isabella Basile

(Byfield MA) It was a tough night for Triton.

“They’re a powerhouse,” said Vikings coach Bryan Shields afterwards.

Pentucket turned in a dominating performance and came away with a, 60-16, win on Monday night.

“We did really well,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara post-game.  Not a soul who watched the game would argue otherwise!

“Our defense set the tone,” added Coach McNamara, “and our transition got us layups.”

The Vikings struggled in the backcourt after getting double-teamed and numerous turnovers/layups followed.

Molly Kimball

The Sachems also were quick to press for scores after getting possession in the frontcourt.

Even when forced to run halfcourt offense Pentucket (11-2) was textbook perfect against Triton’s zone defense.

“Their zone forced us to pass the ball more since you can’t drive against a zone,” explained Pentucket junior Audrey Conover afterwards.

And pass they did.  There were cross-court passes to open teammates on the weakside.  There were give-and-go layups and there were inbound passes for layups.

Maeve Heffernan guards Lana Mickelson (12 points)

“The kids were passing up a shot to get a better shot,” said Coach McNamara.  “They were really unselfish.  It was fun to watch.”

Almost every basket had an assist attached to it unless it was a breakaway off a turnover.

The Sachems took the mystery out of this game early racing ahead, 14-0, after four minutes.  The visitors took three turnovers in for layups and had two three’s (Abby Dube and Gabby Bellacqua) in the breakaway start.

Audrey Conover

Molly Kimball finally ended the Triton scoring drought with a free throw and later added a three-point shot before the quarter was over.

The quarter ended with the score, 23-4.

The Pentucket halfcourt defense was extra tough in the second quarter.  Most of the Triton movement in the frontcourt was sideways with few direct lines to the hoop.  Maeve Heffernan scored in the last minute for the only Vikings basket of the quarter.

Rebound battle

Pentucket led, 39-6, at the half.

“They defend well, and they rotate well,” said Coach Shields, “and they can all score.”

“Playing Pentucket will make us better,” added Coach Shields.  “You don’t gain as much playing weaker competition.  We want to be ready for the tournament.”

The Vikings are 8-8 with four games left.  “We’ve got winnable games ahead,” said Coach Shields.  “Three of the teams (North Reading, Saugus, and Manchester-Essex) we beat the first time around.”

Gabby Bellacqua (11 points)

Pentucket has a big game ahead on Thursday night at Newburyport.  “They are a good team and they beat us pretty good the first time,” said Coach McNamara.  “Right now, however, I’m thinking about Senior Night tomorrow night and that game (North Reading).”

Alyssa Thompson (13), Lana Mickelson (12), and Gabby Bellacqua (11) reached double figures for Pentucket.

Coach McNamara: “The key to the win tonight was the excellent passing of Audrey (Conover).”

Pentucket   23   16   14   7   =   60

Triton            4      2     5   5   =   16

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Brianna Welch double-teamed
Riley Bell guarded by Ally Cacciapuoti
Paige Leavitt goes baseline
Sophia Lesinski
Lia Hatheway
Liv Kiricoples
Audrey Conover in for two
Lana Mickelson double-teamed
Ally Cacciapuoti
Abby Dube
Alyssa Thompson layup
Abby Dube and Alyssa Thompson double-team Isabella Basile
Triton box
Pentucket box

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Pentucket defeats Haverhill 60-29

Abby Dube (18 points)
Lana Mickelson (10 points)

(West Newbury MA) Pentucket (10-3) started slowly but Haverhill started very slowly. 

And it cost them.

“We’ve been playing catch-up most of the games we’ve been in,” explained Haverhill coach Melissa Tarpy afterwards.

The Hillies (2-10) fell to the Sachems, 60-29, on Monday evening in non-league action.

“Both teams started a little slow because neither team could practice during the last two days,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara post-game.

Abby Dube in the lane

“Then we started to hit shots and they didn’t,” added Coach McNamara.

Junior Abby Dube led all scorers with eighteen points.

Eight of Abby’s points came in Pentucket’s breakaway first quarter.

Abby had a couple of three’s, both set up by Audrey Conover, and two free throws leading the Sachems to a 12-0 start.

A free throw by senior Yaribel Pena finally put the Hillies on the board with less than a minute remaining.

Pentucket led 13-1 after a quarter and 25-9 at the half.  The Hillies were outscored, 35-20, in the second half.

Pentucket pressure

The Sachems pressure defense, whether man-to-man or trapping, gave the visitors trouble most of the night. 

“We just want to play basic basketball,” said Coach Tarpy.  “Tonight, we didn’t do the little things that needed to happen.”

“Pentucket is a great team with a great program,” she added.  “They’re fundamentally sound and play smart basketball.  They know where their teammates are, and they trust each other.”

Passing was a team-wide strength for Pentucket tonight.  Everyone was in on it.  Plenty of nice setups for high percentage shots.

Kya Burdier (10 points)

There were backdoor cuts that worked and drives with kickouts that led to wide-open looks.

Nine players scored for Pentucket.  Lana Mickelson (10 points) was the other Sachem in double figures.

Senior Kya Burdier (10 points) led the Hillies in scoring.  Sophomore Sydney Spencer finished with nine points.

Kya is committed to Nichols College next year where she will play volleyball and basketball for the Bison.

Kya Burdier guards Gabby Bellacqua

Pentucket has won eight of their last nine games.  “We started the season a bit shaky but now we’ve come together as a team,” said Abby Dube afterwards.

The Hillies have now lost ten straight games.  Their last win was on December 21st against Lawrence.

“We’ve probably only had our whole team together twice this season because of Covid and other illnesses,” said Coach Tarpy.  “But excuses aside, we have to come out and play basic basketball.”

Yaribel Pena

“We did okay on offense tonight,” said Coach McNamara, “but we’ve got to get better.  We’ve got some tough games coming up.”

One of the games ahead on Pentucket’s schedule is versus Newburyport at Newburyport on February 10th.  The undefeated Clippers won the first meeting by ten points but that was a while ago.  The rematch is on my calendar!

The talk after the game tonight included confirmation from AD Dan Thornton that the new school will open in the fall.  Dan also said that the gymnasium floor is in place.  There was also talk about possibly auctioning off pieces of the floor of the gymnasium currently being used.

Haverhill is in the Merrimack Valley Conference while Pentucket is in the Cape Ann League.

Abby said that she played AAU basketball with Kya Burdier.

Pentucket  13   12   18   17   =   60

Haverhill      1     8    13     7   =   29

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Finding the ball
Scramble for the ball
Trapped in the corner
Janisa Price
Haley Phillips looks to pass
Emma Lopata on a drive
Bethany Cloutier shoots a three
Alyssa Thompson
Lana Mickelson looks to pass
Audrey Conover
Pentucket box
Haverhill box

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Pentucket defeats Hamilton-Wenham 47-23

There was plenty of action around the basket
Gabby Bellacqua looks for an opening

(West Newbury MA) “We just couldn’t close out quarters,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Mark Cole afterwards.

The lack of consistency was costly as the Generals (7-4) fell to Pentucket, 47-23, on Tuesday night.

HW had nineteen points from talented Jane Maguire but her teammate combined for only four additional points.

Credit the Pentucket defense.  As usual they were persistent and ready to turn miscues into points.

Pentucket made five 3’s

“Pentucket is a very, very good team that can shoot the ball,” said Coach Cole.

The Sachems (8-2) had nine players score and hit from long range five times.

Lana Mickelson and Alyssa Thompson were Pentucket’s top scorers with nine points each.

Each of the end-of-quarter surges that Coach Cole referenced had 3-pointers in them.

Jane Maguire (19 points)

In the first quarter, Jane Maguire’s three-pointer had the visitors within three points (8-5) with four minutes left. 

Pentucket then rolled off ten unanswered points and the quarter ended with the home team in front, 18-5.

Three’s by Ally Cacciapuoti and Alyssa Thompson were involved in the Pentucket run.

Lana Mickelson (9 points and 9 rebounds)

In the second quarter, two layups and two three’s by Jane Maguire had the Generals within seven (22-15) with 3 ½ minutes left.

Pentucket then rolled off eight unanswered points to gain a, 30-15, halftime lead.

Three’s by Emma Lopata and Alyssa Thompson were part of the second-quarter surge.

Hamilton-Wenham scored the first three points of the third quarter and trailed, 30-18, with seven minutes left.

Coach John McNamara

Pentucket then shut out HW the rest of the quarter and added ten points to their lead.

Three’s by Abby Dube and Lana Mickelson were in the mix this time.  Lana’s three was the old-fashioned variety.

Pentucket was ahead, 40-18, after three periods and cruised home from there.

Pentucket coach John McNamara was glad to get the win.  “Both teams were sloppy.  We’ve got to play better than this.  But it was nice to get a win after our tough loss (in OT to Cathedral) the other day.”

Coach Mark Cole

There were plenty of whistles and plenty of fouls and turnovers.

“It seemed as if it was travel, after foul, after travel,” said Lana Mickelson afterwards.

The teams combined for thirty-seven fouls.  I’m going to guess that there were just as many turnovers.  It was ragged for sure.

“We knew that Hamilton-Wenham would be good because of their upset win over Amesbury the other day,” added Lana.

HW had lost by thirty to Amesbury earlier in the season but took out the Indians, 51-45, in the rematch recently.

Christa Coffey and Audrey Conover

“The fact that we held Pentucket to seventeen points in the second half was a good effort on our part,” said Coach Cole.

Lana Mickelson had nine rebounds to go with her nine points.  Against Cathedral she had twenty rebounds.

Jane Maguire had five three’s in HW’s win over Amesbury.  Christa Coffey added three from long range.

On February 10th Pentucket has a rematch with undefeated Newburyport at Newburyport.  The Clippers won by ten points in the first meeting.

              Pentucket   18   12   10   7   =   47

Hamilton-Wenham   5   10     3   5   =   23

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Ally Cacciapuoti
Marley Shea takes a shot
Ava DiBurro makes a save
Jane Maguire uses a screen
Jane Maguire in the open floor
Pentucket fans
Abby Dube
Nora Gamber guarded by Ally Cacciapuoti
Pentucket box
Hamilton-Wenham box

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Pentucket defeats non-league Greater Lowell Tech 56-39

The Pentucket defense was solid the entire game
Danny Hileman (12 points)

(West Newbury, MA) Danny Hileman, have yourself a memorable game!

And he sure did.

The Pentucket reserve had a career-best twelve points, all in the second half, helping the Sachems defeat Greater Lowell Tech, 56-39, on Thursday night.

The Pentucket offense usually revolves around Nick Daly and CJ Condon and those two seniors were again big contributors.

Nick (20 points) drew extra coverage but was persistent enough inside to get points.

CJ (15 points) created his scoring with steals and drives.

But it was Danny who provided the comfortable cushion for the home team in the second half.

David Diaz moved into an open space

He hit four 3’s from right in front of the heavily involved Pentucket student section.

“I’ve been waiting for a game like this,” said Danny afterwards.  “It was good to finally get it.”

“It was fun to do it in front of all my friends,” the Pentucket senior added.  “It put me in a good mindset and gave me motivation.”

Nick Daly gave the Sachems (4-7) the lead for good, 16-15, halfway through the second quarter on a putback in heavy traffic.

“Those kids were tough,” said GLT coach Shane Abrams.  “We got out-muscled.  They got to every loose ball.”

Nick Daly (20 points)

The aggressive Pentucket zone defense was impressive.

“We’ve been really improving our team defense,” said Pentucket coach Ed Hickey post-game.  “Our defensive effort tonight will keep us in a lot of games.”

It certainly did that in this game because that 16-15 lead in the second quarter was 32-17 five minutes into the third quarter. 

The Gryphons from Tyngsboro had won six straight so I was expecting a point surge at some point but the Sachems defense never let up.

“Their zone spread us out,” said Coach Abrams, “and we couldn’t really penetrate the gaps.  We also had trouble reversing the ball because of how well they defended the weakside.”

CJ Condon (15 points)

Danny struck twice from long-range in the closing minutes of the third quarter and Pentucket was up fifteen, 41-26, at the end of it.

Again Danny struck twice but this time it was in the fourth quarter boosting the Pentucket advantage to, 54-35, with three minutes left in the game to ice things.

“Danny stepped it up big tonight,” said Coach Hickey.  “It was clearly the best game he’s ever played for us.  He’s been earning more playing time with his defense in practice.  He’s capable of knocking down shots and he did it tonight.”

Danny turned to the crowd after every three with a big smile on his face clearly enjoying the moment.

Nesly Sainvil (10 points)

Coach Abrams: “We didn’t recognize that he (Danny Hileman) was a shooter until it was too late.  With the big smile on his face, I think it was a surprise to him, too.  Good for him.  I’m happy for him.”

Coach Hickey: “It’s very exciting to get a home win.  It was nice to have the student body behind us.  We’ve become more connected to each other offensively and defensively.  We’ve been really trying not to settle for an okay shot but really work the ball to get a great shot.”

Chase Dwight rebounds

Nesly Sainvil led the (7-3) Gryphons with ten points.

Plenty of contact under the basket.  Noah Colon, Greyson McDonald, and Collin Abraham made the Sachems earn every basket they scored from in close.

Greater Lowell Tech is in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference. 

Chase Dwight scored one point but I’m betting he had close to ten rebounds.

Pentucket   11   13   17   15   =   56

Greater Lowell   11   6   9   13   =   39

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Austin Gagnon
Tight Pentucket defense
Noah Colon and James Davis
Collin Abraham
Noah Colon
Nesly Sainvil and James Davis
Action under the basket
Loose ball
James Davis and Zion Rodriguez
Mikey Murphy
CJ Condon
Nick Daly
Greater Lowell Tech box
Pentucket box

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Pentucket defeats Triton 60-59

Cole Vuylsteke hit two free throws to give Pentucket the lead

(Pictures will enlarge)

Chase Dwight defends in the closing seconds

(Byfield MA) Clutch free throws by CJ Condon and Cole Vuylsteke in the final minute enabled Pentucket to get by Triton, 60-59, on Friday night.

“It was a crazy, crazy game,” said Pentucket coach Ed Hickey afterwards.  “It was a tale of two halves.”

The Sachems (3-6) were cooking from long range in the first half draining eight three’s. One by Chase Dwight drew smiles from the surprised Pentucket fans and put the visitors ahead, 32-13.  The halftime margin was 36-21.

Quintin McHale (26 points)

In the second half, Triton came to life.

“We really tightened up defensively,” recalled Triton coach Ted Schruender. 

The Pentucket lead was lessened to nine points by the end of the third quarter (52-43) and then things got very interesting in the final quarter.

The Sachems couldn’t score a point for first five minutes and Triton rallied offensively to even things at 52-52.  Sophomore John Prendergast collected the tying basket off a deflected shot.

CJ Condon (23 points)

With 1:20 remaining, John was again in the right place at the right time.  This time he turned an offensive rebound into a score and the home team led, 57-54.

CJ Condon (23 points) broke in to score a layup but Ethan Tate responded with two free throws.  Triton still had a 3-point lead (59-56) with fifty seconds left.

Pentucket won the game on their next two possessions. They did it with four straight free throws (CJ Condon and Cole Vuylsteke).  The Vikings (3-5) had a rebounding foul and a turnover in their last two possessions.

Dylan Wilkinson (20 points)

“I missed free throws in the first half,” said CJ Condon post-game.  “It felt good to knock them down in the second half.”

The tensest moment belonged to Cole who had not scored a point the entire game.  Now, with eighteen seconds left he was at the line, shooting one-and-one, with his team trailing by a point. Cole nailed both shots.

“Cole stepped up and hit some huge free throws for us,” said Coach Hickey.

Max Ligols finishes

“We had a great comeback,” said Triton senior Quintin McHale (26 points).  “We just couldn’t finish it out.”

“We were down by fifteen at one point and came back and got the lead,” recalled Dylan Wilkinson (20 points) afterwards. “You’ve got to finish it off.”

“I can’t say enough about Dylan Wilkinson and Quintin McHale,” said Pentucket coach Ed Hickey.  “They were both amazing.”

A crucial defensive play was turned in by Pentucket’s Chase Dwight in the closing seconds.  Quintin got in close to the basket looking to get off a shot or get fouled but Chase was able to force the ball out of bounds instead of fouling Quintin.

Ethan Tate eyes the hoop

Nick Daly (15 points) drew special coverage in the first half.  He had five three’s, but foul trouble kept him on the sidelines for many minutes.

“I had a bad game last week and I was ready to play tonight,” said Nick afterwards.

The Sachems ended a four-game losing streak.  “This was a much-needed win for us,” said Coach Hickey.  “I’m not sure we’ve had our full lineup this year.  Tonight, we hung in there and I’m very proud of our guys.”

Nick Daly (15 points)

Last year the same two teams faced off at Byfield and Pentucket came away with a 47-46 win.

“Last year we were winning and let one get away,” recalled Coach Schruender.  “This year we made a really nice comeback.”

Both squads had active support in the stands.  “I love playing in this environment,” said CJ Condon.

Pentucket 21   15   16   8   =   60

      Triton  11   10   22   16   =  59

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Dylan Wilkinson puts up a three
Ethan Tate made two free throws in the closing minute
Ball on the floor
Quintin McHale double-teamed
Quintin McHale attacks the rim
Cole Vuylsteke tries to block Ethan Tate’s shot
Quintin McHale at the foul line
Dylan Wilkinson shoots from long range
Quintin McHale in close vs Nick Daly
Owen Tedeschi in the lane
Dylan Wilkinson blocks a shot
Chase Dwight double-teamed
Chase Dwight lifts Quintin McHale with an up fake.

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Niya Morgen and Yirsy Queliz guide St. Mary’s past Pentucket 59-37

(The pictures below will enlarge if you click on them.)

Niya Morgen (27 points) in for a layup
Yirsy Queliz (18 points)

(West Newbury MA) St. Mary’s got better as the game went along defeating Pentucket, 59-37, on Friday night.

The Spartans junior guards (Yirsy Queliz and Niya Morgen) were a game-long problem for Pentucket in their season opener.

“They might have the best backcourt in the state,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

Niya had seven three’s in twenty-seven points while Yirsy added eighteen points.

Action in front of the Pentucket student section

The points were one thing, but the defense and court-sense of both players was noticeable.

“Our guard play eventually took the game over,” explained Spartans coach Jeff Newhall post-game.

“They’re good friends,” added Coach Newhall.  “They play AAU together.  They are used to playing together.  There is no weakness in their games.”

The Pentucket student section was in place as was an ever-playing band.  There was a playoff-game atmosphere.

Gabby Bellacqua (11 points)

The Sachems started well, and even had a 6-2 lead, as St. Mary’s tried to settle in. 

But as time went on, it became apparent that Pentucket was going to have trouble scoring and that St. Mary’s wouldn’t. 

Yirsy Queliz created a turnover with seconds left in the first quarter and cashed it in to give the visitors their first lead, 9-7. They would build on that lead the rest of the game.

Audrey Conover defends Niya Morgen

Niya Morgen carried St. Mary’s in the second and third quarters.  The Swampscott transfer drained six three’s in those quarters.

One of Niya’s three-pointers was a step-back three.

“Niya made some big shots to keep us alive,” said Coach Newhall.

The Spartans extended a 24-18 halftime lead to 41-28 after three quarters.

The Pentucket problem wasn’t a lack of shots.  The issue was making some shots. 

Yirsy Queliz and Coach Newhall

“We had some good looks,” said Coach McNamara, “but against a good team you have to make shots.  The defense can only hold on for so long.”

Abby Dube paced Pentucket with fifteen points.  Gabby Bellacqua added eleven points mostly on free throws.

This game was an endowment game so it will have no effect on tournament standings.

“We haven’t played Pentucket in ten years,” said Coach Newhall.  “The last time was in 2011 when we beat them in the Division 3 North semi-finals and went on to win our first state championship. Before that, we used to play them all the time.”

Alyssa Thompson and Bella Owumi

“John (McNamara) and I planned to have this game last year but couldn’t,” said Coach Newhall.  “Any time we can play a quality opponent on the road that can challenge us we’re willing to do it.  Some teams aren’t willing to host us.”

“We had nothing to lose in scheduling them,” said Coach McNamara, “since it’s an endowment game.  We knew that they were loaded.  It was a learning experience for us.  We start our season next week against Georgetown.”

Yirsy Queliz and Brooke Moloney

It was easy to be impressed with Yirsy Queliz.  Coach Newhall summed her up this way: “Yirsy has been a starter since she was in eighth grade.  She does everything.  She may not score a ton but she’s a tremendous ballhandler.  She’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the area.”

Yirsy’s teammate, Niya, is equally good at handling the ball and tonight showed the ability to hit outside shots and get to the basket.

Olivia Abbott and Lana Mickelson

“St. Mary’s is probably one of the top five teams in the state,” said Coach McNamara.  “They have four kids who can create their own offense.  There are probably three scholarship kids on that team.”

Coach Newhall was happy with the win and especially liked his team’s play at the end.  “I was impressed with our fourth quarter defensively and using the clock for good possessions,” he said.  “We had Yirsy with the ball, the court spread, and ran good sets.”

Yirsy said afterwards that “Pentucket was a tough team.”  Niya added that the “team had to chill out without fouling.”

Yirsy Queliz sets a pick for Niya Morgen

Both girls agreed that because they have played together so much, “they’ve built chemistry.”

Yirsy and Niya ran a perfect pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter.

This is the last season in the current Pentucket gymnasium.  Coach McNamara said afterwards that he was going to miss the place.

“One of my best memories of this place was beating a very good Masco team here my first year of coaching,” said Coach McNamara.  “They had been to the Tsongas the year before and had everyone back.  We were the new kids on the block.”

Kaylie Dalgar and Audrey Conover

Bob Romeo (former Masco coach and now North Reading coach) was in the house tonight.  I also saw Coach Dollas and some of his Amesbury players in attendance.

Graduated outside shooter Arielle Cleveland was also spotted afterwards.  Pentucket could have used her shooting tonight.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge if you click on them.)

Pentucket box
St. Mary’s box
Bella Owumi guarded by Bethany Cloutier
Yirsy Queliz gets deliberate late in the game
Yirsy Queliz makes a steal
Gabby Bellacqua pressures Yirsy Queliz
AJ Hyacinthe
Audrey Conover
Emma Lopata

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North Reading reaches D5 Super Bowl after 31-14 win over Pentucket

Matt Guidebeck (8) and Ryan McCullough (7) celebrate a 4th quarter TD

(Lynn MA) North Reading has been averaging nearly forty points per game.

Ryan McCullough had two long punt returns

When they only had six points at halftime versus Pentucket tonight at Manning Field, you had to suspect that a scoring storm was coming.

And it did.

The Hornets (10-1) big second half gave them a, 31-14, win over Pentucket.  It also gave North Reading (#1 seed) a berth in the Division 5 Super Bowl against Swampscott (#2 seed) at Gillette Stadium in December.

Chase Dwight (4) scored twice

“I’m so happy to get a chance to play at Gillette,” said NR quarterback Alex Carucci afterwards.

Alex ran for one score and passed for another.

The Hornets had scored four times this season on their very first play from scrimmage.

Didn’t happen tonight.  However, the first time North Reading had the ball in the second half came on a punt return. 

Ryan McCullough (7) returned this punt for a 78-yard touchdown
Johnny Igoe (20) chased by Anthony Pino (79)

Ryan McCullough went seventy-eight yards with that return to give the Hornets the lead for good.

“I was just trying to take it to the house,” recalled Ryan.  “I thank my punt-return teammates.  There was a wall there.”

Pentucket (#4 seed) was still in this one early in the fourth quarter (17-14) after Chase Dwight’s second short-yardage touchdown.

The Sachems (8-3) were able to get the ball back with a chance to pull ahead.

Ryan McCullough and Paul Parachojuk battle

Credit the NR defense.  They forced another punt.

Ryan McCullough was again on the punt receiving end and again had good blocking.

“I nearly had a second touchdown but #11 (Paul Parachojuk) caught me,” said Ryan.

Ryan’s 42-yard return set up the Hornets at the Pentucket five. 

From there, quarterback Alex Carucci rolled left looking to pass.  Nothing there, so he crossed the field to the right side and connected with Matt Guidebeck for the score.

“It was a broken play,” said Alex.  “I just tried to make something happen. Fortunately, my receivers got open for me.”

Matt Guidebeck and John Jennings

“I was in the slot on the right,” recalled Matt Guidebeck.  “It was a scramble and we had worked all this week on what to do.  I moved around until a found a spot to stay.”

“Alex (Carucci) is a smart player,” said NR coach Ed Blum.  “When he’s had to scramble, he’s been able to make some plays.”

Matt Guidebeck’s touchdown reception and his kicking conversion put North Reading ahead, 24-14, with five minutes left in the game.

Craig Rubino’s interception ended Pentucket’s next possession and North Reading was home free.

Ryan McGuire (1) interception

Two second-half interceptions (Ryan McGuire & Craig Rubino) and Ryan McCullough’s two punt returns were keys to the win.

“A couple of big plays really swung it in the second half,” said Pentucket coach Dan Leary.  “North Reading makes you play all three phases of the game and defend the field.”

Not to be lost among all the “highlight” plays was the rushing of sophomore Will Batten (26 carries – 158 yards).

“Will put up some big numbers in the weight room last year,” said Coach Blum.  “He’s been huge for us in this run.”

Will scored his 20th touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Will Batten (6) scores
Alex Carucci scores after a fake handoff to Will Batten

North Reading scored first.  Pentucket got a heavy dose of Will Batten right down to their two-yard line.  A fake to Will by QB Alex Carucci allowed Alex to score unnoticed.

“Will is a great player and they were keying on him,” said Alex afterwards.  “I think they had eleven guys on him and no one on me.”

Pentucket answered with a touchdown greatly aided by a pass interference call.  Chase Dwight, who spent most of the game either passing or running, plunged across from a yard away.  Henry Hartford’s kick put Pentucket in front, 7-6.

Brandon Lee after a catch

The Sachems held that lead at halftime, but things changed in the second half.

“I told the team at halftime that they had to believe in everything they had done,” said Coach Blum.  “We knew that we would face some adversity.”

Coach Leary: “I was proud of our effort.”

Ryan McCullough: “It is an amazing feeling to finally get this done.  #4 (Chase Dwight) is a big, strong runner with a huge arm.”

Will Batten (6) breaks loose

Alex Carucci: “We were a little bit sloppy tonight.  I know that we can play a lot better.”

Coach Blum: “Ryan (McCullough) trusted the blockers and made some good cuts on those punt returns.”

Pentucket lost to North Reading eight weeks ago (September 24th), 20-0.

Both North Reading and Pentucket lost to Amesbury this season.

John Jennings (13) makes a tackle

Che Condon had four catches for 111 yards.

Matt Guidebeck kicked a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter.

The Hornets have now won five straight.

North Reading 0  6  11  14  – 31

Pentucket         0  7    0     7  – 14

(All the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Sam Morelli (52) and Teddy Suny (77) get after Chase Dwight (4)
Alex Carucci looks to pass to Ryan McCullough (7)
Chase Dwight (4) scores his first touchdown
Alex Carucci (5)

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Pentucket shuts out Amesbury 2-0

Pentucket seniors with Coach Ruth Beaton
Haley Dwight had a goal and an assist

(Merrimac MA) The Pentucket seniors were honored before the game and the team was honored afterwards.

The Sachems (15-1) defeated Amesbury, 2-0, on Friday afternoon.

“We’re CAL field hockey champs for the first time in school history,” said Pentucket coach Ruth Beaton afterwards. Her team has won twelve straight games.

Junior Haley Dwight had a goal and an assist for Pentucket.

“Pentucket is an awesome team,” said Amesbury coach Kerri Doherty post-game.  “They consistently come out fast and move the ball extremely well.  They can play on both turf and grass.”

The Sachems put pressure on the Indians (2-8-4) most of the game. 

“We had a ton of chances,” said senior Lana Mickelson.  “I know because I missed a few.”

Lana had two goals against Amesbury in Pentucket’s 4-1 win at Amesbury.

Busy afternoon for Amesbury goalie Nuala Arsenault

The Sachems scored early in the second quarter (Reese Gallant) and early in the final quarter (Haley Dwight).

Pentucket had nine corners (by my unofficial count) and numerous opportunities.

Credit Amesbury goal-keeper Nuala Arsenault along with defenders Lizzy Deacon, Hannah Gale, and Ella DeLisle for finding ways to prevent more Pentucket goals.

“It was hard in there,” said GK Nuala Arsenault, “and I was really tired…..but it was fun.”

Pentucket goalie Charlene Basque didn’t see much action.  However, after Haley Dwight’s goal four minutes into the final quarter, Amesbury did apply some pressure and rang a shot off the sidebar.

A goal there would have cut the Pentucket lead to 2-1 with six minutes left.

“All credit to Amesbury for the way they hung in there,” said senior Meg Freiermuth afterwards.  “We stayed gritty.”

“Defensively, we held our own,” said Coach Doherty.

Haley Dwight passes across in front
Reese Gallant gets her stick on Haley’s pass
Ball on the way into the Amesbury goal
Reese Gallant reacts to her goal
Pentucket celebrates first goal

But Pentucket had so many in-close chances in the first quarter that you assumed that a goal would come that way.  But that wasn’t the way the first goal was scored.

Haley Dwight intercepted a pass at midfield and headed for the left endline. 

“When I see the open net, I always shoot for it,” said Haley, “but I’m also looking for my teammates.”

When Haley got close to the endline, she sent a pass across the front of the net between the goalie and a defender.

“Reese was right there,” said Haley.

“Haley put it right in front,” said Reese Gallant. “It was nice to be there on the end of Haley’s pass.”

“That first goal was picture perfect,” recalled Coach Beaton.  “Reese was where she had to be when Haley made the crossing pass.”

Ball in the air in front of Izzy Deacon (11)

There was not much that Amesbury GK Nuala Arsenault could do about the goal.  “Their first one was rough to get to because the player shooting was on the opposite side,” said Nuala.

The Sachems were finally able to pad their lead with a goal in the final quarter.

Pentucket had crowded in near the Amesbury goal many times, but this time Haley Dwight produced a goal out of the congestion.

“I did a spin move on the goalie and shot it,” recalled Haley.  “It didn’t bounce off anyone.  It went right in. The sound of a goal is something my teammates and I love to hear.”

Amesbury threatens

Coach Doherty: “Ruth (Beaton) is well respected in the league.  There was no doubt in my mind that Pentucket was the Number One team this year.”

Coach Beaton: “Kerri’s kids play hard and don’t give up on the ball.”

Six seniors (Bailey Stock, Madi Kuchar, Sydney Matthews, Meg Freiermuth, Lana Mickelson, Gabrielle Cloutier, and Charlene Basque) were honored pre-game. 

Meg Freiermuth was pleased to have her brother Pat (Pittsburgh Steelers) on hand for the celebration.

“It is awesome to have Pat around,” said Meg.  “He has a bye week, so he was able to come.”

Hannah Gale (11) and Bailey Stock (20)

Amesbury is one of the best 2-8-4 teams you’ll ever see.  They tied highly regarded Triton recently.  The Vikings are the only team with a win over Pentucket.

The Sachems have games left with Lynnfield and North Reading.  Pentucket defeated both 4-0 the first time around.

The seedings for the Division 3 state tournament come out on November 1st.  How far can Pentucket go post-season?

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Lana Mickelson
GK Nuala Arsenault out to block Bailey Stock (20)
Sydney Matthews shoots
Ana Tomkiewicz (4) and Meg Freiermuth (24)
Lizzy Deacon (10) and Madi Kuchar (21)
Alana DeLisle and Madi Kuchar
Alana DeLisle, Sydney Matthews, and Gabrielle Cloutier
Isabelle Levasseur (17) and Haley Dwight (34)
Julia Mitchell (15) and Reese Gallant (19)
Meagan McAndrews
Amelia Kirby

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Newburyport keeps ALS Cup with 1-0 win

Newburyport captains (Maddie Felts, Katie Gallagher, Izzy Kirby, Caity Rooney) with the ALS Cup
Deirdre McElhinney

(Newburyport MA) Deirdre McElhinney had been practicing penalty kicks.

“We knew that if our ALS Cup game ended in a tie there would be penalty kicks,” said Deirdre afterwards.

Tonight’s game with Pentucket didn’t end in a tie but the need for a penalty kicker arrived late in the first half.

“I tried to act like I was at practice,” added Deirdre.  “I was trying to read the goalie.”

The shot was taken and found the left corner of the net.

“Fantastic PK by Deirdre,” said Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan.  “She just crushed the ball to the back corner.”

And that was the only goal scored. It turned out to be enough to get Newburyport past Pentucket, 1-0, on a balmy Saturday night at James Stehlin Stadium.

Both teams came in 9-2-2.  This was, indeed, a heavyweight match.

Newburyport was 5-0 at home while Pentucket was 5-0-1 on the road.  Something had to give.

Katie Gallagher and Victoria Wilson

“A fair result would have been a tie,” said Pentucket coach Dan Millard.

Both teams had excellent scoring chances.

“I knew that I would have plenty of action today,” said Clippers’ goalie Gabby Loughran.  “They had lots of open shots today.  We got lucky.”

Coach Kevin Sheridan saw Gabby’s play in net as very important.  “She was outstanding,” said Coach Sheridan.  “Perhaps she was the player-of-the-game.  She came off the line and didn’t give rebounds.  She handled the crosses and the corners.”

This game featured plenty of physical action.  Every 50/50 ball was heavily contested.  Some serious collisions resulted, and medical attention and free kicks followed.

“It was so intense out there,” said Anna Affolter post-game. “Both teams wanted to win this one badly.”

Molly Webster and Lia Goodwin

The physicality cost Pentucket (9-3-2) late in the first half.  Newburyport sophomore Brela Pavao had possession in Pentucket’s box and was knocked down by a Sachem defender. 

“Credit to Brela for drawing the penalty kick,” said Deirdre. “That was huge.”

The Clippers (10-2-2) had several scoring chances early in the game. 

The first one was set up by Anna Affolter who came in along the left endline.  Anna crossed the ball in front to where Bella Rosa was located.  There was plenty of net to shoot at (as the picture shows) but Bella lifted the shot over the net.

A few minutes later freshman Alexis Greenblott broke into the middle from the left and got off a pretty good shot.  Junior goalkeeper Emma Breen was well positioned to make the save.

Bella Rosa has great setup from Anna Affolter

The constant threat for Pentucket was junior Sabrina Campbell.  Likely the fastest runner on the field.  Several times she found space down the wings.

“Sabrina’s a really tough competitor,” explained Izzy Kirby who spent some time trying to stay with her.  “She’s really fast.  Our game plan was to make sure we had marks on her and layers.  If she got by one of us, we had others back to mark her.”

“Sabrina and Mollie (Cahalane) are really good,” added GK Gabby Loughran.

The visitors trailed, 1-0, at the half and seemed (to me) to elevate their intensity in the second half.

The Sachems had their best scoring chance with fourteen minutes left.

Katie Gallagher clears a ball away from the front of the Newburyport net

Sabrina broke down the right side and found sophomore Victoria Wilson cutting down the middle.  GK Gabby Loughran dove out to get in front of Victoria’s shot attempt.  Gabby’s dive not only blocked the shot but also took out teammate Caity Rooney.  And so there the ball sat near the three of them and none of them could get it.

Gabby Loughran down for a save

Fortunately for Newburyport, senior Katie Gallagher hustled over and cleared the ball out of danger.

“Their goalie came out strong and hard,” said Coach Millard of the play.  “She cut down the angle and made it difficult to score.  That would have been a nice one for us to tie the game on.”

“We played hard in the back,” explained Katie Gallagher.  “Pentucket is tough.”

The Clippers took a 3-0 loss to Pentucket on September 13th at Pentucket.  Newburyport has only allowed five goals all season and three of them came in that decisive loss.

“We didn’t have a good game that day,” recalled Gabby.  “We took a red card halfway through the second half and they scored two more goals after that.”

Emma Breen up for a Pentucket save

Anna Affolter: “Deirdre finished like she always does in practice.  It was revenge for the 3-0 loss.”

Katie Gallagher: “We stuck together through all eighty minutes of it.  We went forward with speed.”

Coach Millard: “My girls gave 110%.  We could have played better.  Maybe we’ll see Newburyport again in the tournament.”

Coach Sheridan: “What a great game.  Both teams had a bunch of chances.  Pentucket played hard.  They have good players.”

Alexis Greenblott

Molly Webster: “We have been building up to this game all year.  This is such a great game whether you are on a team or not.”

Katie Gallagher: “The cup stays in Newburyport.  I hope to play soccer next year.  I’ve applied to all the schools I want to go to.  I love the game.  I want to keep playing.”

The crowd was impressive and so was the weather.  Low 70’s at night on October 16th.  Who saw that coming……….but I’ll take it!

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Izzy Kirby, Katie Gallagher, and Gabby Loughran celebrate
Gabby Bellacqua
Annabelle Sylvanowicz (17), Sabrina Campbell (10), Izzy Kirby (13)
Sydney Trout salutes the Pentucket fans
Annabelle Sylvanowicz sent flying
Clippers celebrate Deirdre McElhinney’s goal
Pentucket goalie Emma Breen reaches for Deirdre McElhinney’s penalty kick
Brela Pavao
Bethany Cloutier and Bella Rosa
Gabby Loughran makes a save
Sabrina Campbell breaks down the right wing with Katie Gallagher chasing her
Grace Pherson

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