Tag Archives: Alli Napoli

Terrific defense gets Amesbury past Winthrop (50-28) and into D3 North title game

Plenty of pressure applied game-long by Amesbury on Winthrop

Alli Napoli couldn’t keep herself from smiling as both fan groups chanted her name

(Wakefield MA) Everyone knew her name.

There was chanting and singing. All in Alli Napoli’s direction.

And she smiled through it as Amesbury ousted Winthrop from the D3 North tournament with a 50-28 win on Tuesday night.

The Indians (20-2) get a rematch on Saturday against #1 seed St. Mary’s at the Tsongas Center. At stake will be the Division 3 North title.

The Amesbury defense was active and effective all night long.

“Everyone we used played good defense,” said Indians coach Gregg Dollas post-game.

And who could argue? Amesbury held the Vikings (15-8) to only a point over the final seven minutes of the first period and went off to a 16-3 lead. Winthrop never recovered.

Maura Dorr and Avery Hallinan battle for a rebound

“We struggled to score,” said Vikings coach Joe Lowe afterwards. “It’s been that way all year.”

Alli Napoli (11 points) had two baskets, three assists, and several steals in the breakaway first quarter.

“Alli had a terrific game,” said Coach Dollas.

The Indians played very little half-court offense because their defense was so disruptive. On this night their on-ball defense was influential in creating twenty-four Winthrop turnovers.

“If we can’t score in the half-court, we’ll struggle to generate pressure,” said Coach Lowe. “They played well defensively so they were part of the reason we had trouble scoring points.”

Amesbury was up, 24-13, at the half.

Alli Napoli on the fly

The Indians put their defense/offense neatly together some more in the third period. In the first five minutes Amesbury went on a 13-3 run and stretched their advantage to 37-16.

Alli was again in the middle of the good play. The AHS senior sparked the offense and defense. She also made a long pass to a cutting Gabby Redford that had “next-level” written all over it.

“They’ve been doing that all year,” said Coach Dollas. “I’m going to miss that next year.”

Great crowd interaction during the third quarter. Winthrop had plenty of active fans. When Alli went to the free throw line they started chanting her name, trying to throw her off. Meanwhile, the Amesbury fans also started chanting her name at the same time.

Alli laughed about it afterwards: “Maybe it was because it was my 18th birthday? It’s fun to play in front of a big crowd.”

After Amesbury got the twenty-one point lead (37-16) the Vikings suddenly found their touch from beyond the arc.

Maura Dorr (11 points)

Maura Dorr, Julia Marccocio, and Caroline Earl produced consecutive 3-pointers. Winthrop was suddenly within twelve (37-25) 2+ minutes into the final quarter.

Coach Dollas reinserted some of his starters and the Vikings run ended. The Indians tallied that next ten points, including two baskets by Avery Hallinan (18 points), and they coasted in from there.

Avery Hallinan: “We always focus on turning our defense into offense. We don’t run sets very often.”

McKenna Hallinan: “We had to push the pace. We knew that they weren’t as quick as us. We tried to make it a track meet and run and score as much as we could.”

Alli Napoli: “Every practice it’s defense, defense, defense. He (Coach Dollas) drills it into our heads.”

Avery Hallinan (18 points) guarded by Maura Dorr

Coach Dollas on the Winthrop crowd: “The girls loved the Winthrop crowd. I was proud of the group Winthrop brought. They had fun and that’s what we’re here for.”

Coach Dollas on facing St. Mary’s: “There was a 45-point differential last time we played them. We may have to work on some defense! We’ll go out there and try to knock down one of the top private schools in Massachusetts.”

McKenna Hallinan on the St. Mary’s rematch: “We’re hoping to play our best and see where that takes us.”

Great lighting at Wakefield High School.

Maura Dorr made All-Conference in the Northeastern Conference. Caroline Earl and Luly Pulsifer were All-Stars.

Alli Napoli, Avery Hallinan, and Gabby Redford were honored by the Cape Ann League.

Amesbury’s two losses have been to Pentucket (#1 seed D2 North) and St. Mary’s (#1 seed D3 North).

In Winthrop’s D3 North quarter-finals win over Whittier, Lily Polsifer had twenty points while teammate Maura Dorr had sixteen points with fourteen rebounds.

Winthrop box

Amesbury box

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

Maura Dorr gets a block in front of the Amesbury bench

McKenna Hallinan

Sadie Kermelewicz

Izzy Cambece

Lily Pulsifer

Freshman Maddie Stiglets in the air

Avery Hallinan guards Maura Dorr

McKenna Hallinan in the lane

Carolyn Kinsella

Gabby Redford lines up a shot in front of the Amesbury crowd

Alli Napoli waits for a pass

 

 

 

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Amesbury pressure defense key to 49-31 win over Watertown in D3 North Quarter Finals

Taylor Lambo double-teamed

Watertown under pressure

(Amesbury MA) The Amesbury offense was rusty, but their defense certainly wasn’t.

The Indians (#2 seed) rode their full-court, pressuring, trapping defense to a 49-31 win over Watertown (#10 seed) in the Division 3 North quarterfinals on Friday night.

“The defense saved us tonight,” said AHS coach Gregg Dollas afterwards. “We hadn’t played in ten days and it showed on offense.”

The Indians (19-2) broke away from a 10-10 tie early in the second period on an Alli Napoli full-court drive and built their lead the rest of the way.

Avery Hallinan (16 points)

“We started off really slow but after a while we settled down and made our shots,” said sophomore Avery Hallinan (16 points).

Watertown led early (6-0) but generating offense was a game-long struggle thereafter.

“Their pressure kept us out of rhythm,” said Watertown coach Pat Ferdinand.

“We focused on our defense and trapping in our recent practices,” explained McKenna Hallinan. “It really helped us today. We needed to switch on pick-and-rolls because #53 (Taylor Lambo) was involved and we wanted to deny her the ball.”

Taylor ended up with thirteen points.

“#53 (Taylor) did a good job inside,” said Coach Dollas.

Amesbury registered seven straight points after tying the score at 10-10.

Alli Napoli (14 points) on her way to the basket

Alli Napoli (14 points) collected three layups in this surge. One was a full-court drive through the entire Raiders defense.

“She (Alli) was dynamic,” said Coach Ferdinand. “Regardless of what we did she was able to control the flow of the game.”

“Alli had another good game,” said Coach Dollas.

Amesbury’s next game will be at a neutral site, so this not only was another of the 1000-point scorer’s “good” games but her last at AHS.

The Indians ended the first half with two Gabby Redford (13 points) free throws that started Amesbury into ten unanswered points.

The Raiders (10-12) had gotten within seven (22-15) on a Brittany Catsoulis jump shot before Gabby’s free throws.

While the Raiders were shut out for nearly six minutes of the third period, the Indians scored eight in a row.

Gabby Redford (13 points)

Avery Hallinan had a layup and an old-fashioned 3-point play while Gabby Redford cashed the new-fashioned version of a three-pointer.

“I thought Gabby hit some big shots for us tonight,” said Coach Dollas. “She was a 2nd team Cape Ann League All-Star for good reason.”

The Amesbury lead had been built to 32-15 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

The teams played even (point-wise) the rest of the way.

Watertown’s Ellie Monahan had eight points in the second half including a buzzer-beating triple to close the third quarter.

The Raiders needed stops to go with their improved offense in the final period but on this night couldn’t find it.

“At times we got stops but we couldn’t get baskets on the other end,” said Coach Ferdinand.

Taylor Lambo (13 points) at the line

Watertown is from the Middlesex League. In their first-round game they defeated Latin Academy, 46-36. Taylor Lambo had twenty-two points, fifteen rebounds, and three blocks in that one.

Amesbury is in the Cape Ann League. Their two losses this season have been to the D2 North #1 seed (Pentucket) and the D3 #1 seed (St. Mary’s).

Coach Dollas: “Our defense was really good. We didn’t want them to be able to set up their offense. That was our goal. We had good energy the whole time.”

Gabby Redford: “At first it was very stressful because we were down at the beginning. It was good for us to step up in the second half. The fan section really helped.”

Mary Bullis: “I thought the girls stepped up on defense. Because of the pressure, #53 had to bring the ball up. I’m not sure she wanted to do that. I know that feeling.”

Coach Ferdinand: “I’m proud of our girls. We didn’t have enough tonight. Sometimes you see that a team has an edge on you. You just try to compete as much as possible and we did.”

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

Watertown coach Pat Ferdinand

Taylor Lambo passes

Taylor Lambo looks for an opening

McKenna Hallinan

Liv DeLong defends an inbounds pass

Leah D’Amico looks for an opening against Ashlee Porcaro

Izzy Cambece

Gabby Redford and Catherine LaForte guard Taylor Lambo

Flannery O’Connor honored at halftime

Brittany Catsoulis and Ciara Sullivan

Battle for control

Ashley Shaughnessy chased by Avery Hallinan

Alli Napoli in among four Raiders

Alli Napoli floats in against Taylor Lambo

 

 

 

 

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Amesbury edges Fenway 68-63 and gets St. Mary’s in Spartan Classic final

Avery Hallinan (27 points) in for two of them

Fifty turnovers in this game – Fenway (28), Amesbury (22)

(Lynn MA) This game was hardly smooth.

Sixty-four free throws and fifty turnovers.

Whistles galore.

Amesbury rode their accurate free throw shooting (29-for-35) to a 68-63 win over Fenway in the First Round of the Division 3 Spartan Classic.

Amesbury will face St. Mary’s in the title game Monday night. It is not a reach to think that one of these two teams will be playing at the TD Garden on March 9th or 10th in the D3 state semi-final game.

Fenway has two six-footers (Janyah Gulley & Kayana Armbrister) but Janyah fouled out in the third quarter and Kayana in the fourth quarter with five minutes left.

“Their big girls getting into foul trouble certainly helped, “said Amebury coach Gregg Dollas afterwards. “His subs, however, did a good job of keeping them in the game.”

Alli Napoli (21 points)

This was a one-possession game (62-59) going into the last minute. Then an Alli Napoli (21 points) layup, assisted by Sadie Kermelewicz, raised the lead and Avery Hallinan (27 points) sealed the deal with four straight free throws.

Avery struggled from the floor tonight, but at the line? Wow! The sophomore made 17-of-19.

Avery also had several steals and took three charges.

“We focused on taking charges and making our free throws,” added McKenna Hallinan.

“We scored sixty-eight and we didn’t shoot well,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollas. “Avery on the line was huge. Our free throw shooting saved us because our outside shots weren’t falling at all early on.”

The Panthers (11-6) got off to a terrific start.

Imani Terry (16 points) helped Fenway get off to a fast start

In the first twenty seconds, senior Imani Terry (16 points) hit a three, stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup.

The next points after that were on a rebound basket by sophomore Wynter Neal (14 points).

Coach Dollas immediately went for a timeout after the 7-0 beginning. “I’ve never seen a start like that,” he said.

“That timeout settled us down,” recalled McKenna.

Amesbury (18-1) has not been behind very often, or for very long, this season but against a quality team like Fenway there was no quick recovery.

The Indians put a run of eight straight points together in the second quarter to get to within two (22-20) but D4 Fenway was still ahead (29-26) at halftime.

Janyah Gulley fouled out in the 3rd period

Amesbury got the unanswered run of eight off a successful inbounds play (Alli Napoli) and a full-court Alli drive. Avery Hallinan made two free throws and then took a steal in for a layup for the other four points.

Alli drained Amesbury’s only three, 1 ½ minutes into the second half, to tie the score at 31-31.

Shortly after the score was tied, the first of Fenway’s two tallest players (Janyah Gulley) fouled out.

Sophomore Kayana Armbrister (20 points) soars into the lane

It would have been easy at this point to think that Amesbury would take advantage but Fenway’s Kayana Armbrister (20 points) had other plans. Kayana made free throws and started the final quarter with an old-fashioned 3-point play. Fenway led, 43-40.

Amesbury then made their run to the front for good.

Free throws (Avery Hallinan), a layup (Gabby Redford) assisted by Alli Napoli, and a drive (Avery) put the Indians ahead, 46-43, with six minutes left.

A minute later, Kayana Armbrister was gone on fouls after Avery Hallinan took the charge.

The Panthers were in trouble and down, 59-51, with 2:20 left. But they weren’t out.

Consecutive three’s (Wynter Neal & Imani Terry) vaulted the team from the Boston City League to within a possession, 59-57, with 1 ½ minutes left.

Alli Napoli got a point back on a free throw before Fenway committed their 28th turnover.

McKenna Hallinan shoots a free throw

Two free throws by McKenna Hallinan were answered by two from Wynter Neal….62-59.

Amesbury tallied six points in their next three possessions while Fenway picked up four points. The Panthers had another free throw point but lost it on a lane violation.

“It cost us not having our six-footers late in the game,” said Fenway coach John Rice post-game. “You’ve got to play the game. You’ve got to do the best you can with the players you’ve got.”

Fenway was missing starter Omariah Ashley.

The Panthers have won the Boston City League three straight years.

Alli Napoli looks inside

Fenway’s 11-6 record is misleading. Three of their losses were to D1 schools.

Amesbury’s only loss was to D2 defending champs Pentucket on January 28th.

Pentucket’s coach John McNamara picked up his 300th win tonight. He’s reached that total in fifteen seasons. That’s a 20-wins-per-season pace!

Avery Hallinan: “The game was interesting. We started really, really, really bad. Then we slowed it down and got fouls on their best players which we like to do. We started to hit our shots and passed to get layups.”

Fenway box

Amesbury box

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

Wynter Neal and Avery Hallinan

Surrounded by Indians

Sophomore Kayana Armbrister

Senior Alli Napoli

McKenna Hallinan

Janaiya Printemps and McKenna Hallinan

Fenway coach John Rice

Inbounds play

Izzy Cambece

Ciara Sullivan

Alli Napoli guards senior Janyah Gulley

 

 

 

 

 

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PKs send Amesbury by Manchester-Essex and into D4 state semi-finals

Dasa Hase and Gracie Doherty

Alyssa Pettet kicked home the game-winner in the shootout

(Lynn MA) I struggled all afternoon trying to guess how this game was going to go.

I tried the Manchester-Essex end at the start because Amesbury had beaten them twice during the season.

That put me out of close range as the Hornets dominated the first half and had a goal (Mia Cromwell at 17:16)) to show for it.

Second half I favored the Amesbury end because that was where ME had spend a lot of time in the first half.

Alli Napoli leaves the goal with Rachel Albertazzi (10) near the ball

That put me long range as Amesbury scored (McKenna Hallinan at 35:43) and carried the play in at least half of the second half.

In the final twenty minutes, both teams had chances but the goalies (ME’s Kara Glynos & Amesbury’s Alli Napoli) made plays.

Overtime?  Not yet.

In the final five minutes of regulation, the Indians were called for an infraction in the box.  Suddenly there would be a penalty kick (far from where I was standing!).

Mia Cromwell tried to go to the left corner with her PK but GK Alli Napoli lunged that way and the game continued.

Now we had overtime.

Ashley Flood (20) and Alyssa Pettet (5)

Last year, Amesbury defeated Manchester-Essex in double overtime in the same D4 North title game.

Both teams had chances to end it in the overtimes.  Amesbury’s Alyssa Pettet came very close in the first OT but the game continued as no one was found who could finish for either team.

That opened the door for the dreaded shootout.  The pressure, the lonely walk to the penalty line, and the elation/agony with the result.

The two goal scorers (Mia Cromwell & McKenna Hallinan) shot first.  Mia froze GK Alli Napoli with a shot to the right.  (In the PK at the end of regulation she had gone to the left and Alli was there.) McKenna’s shot against Leilani Brown was high to the left.

Bella Hadaegh & Gracie Doherty shot second. Bella also tried to go right but hit the crossbar.  Gracie scored past Kara Glynos on a grounder to the left.

Grace Doherty PK

So after two rounds the score was tied.  Who expected this after these teams were tied after eighty minutes of regulation and twenty minutes of overtime??

Maya Baker and Avery Hallinan were in the third round.  Maya shot up the middle and Alli Napoli hardly moved to save it.  Avery shot to the right and it slipped by ME GK Leilani Brown.  Advantage Amesbury.

Maya Baker PK

Avery Hallinan PK

The last round this game would need to reach an outcome had Sofia Gillespie and Alyssa Pettet in it.  Sofia’s shot went over the top and that gave the CAL Player-of-the-Year a chance at the game-winner.  She shot hard to the upper left by GK Kara Glynos and Amesbury had a 2-1 win in PKs.

Alyssa Pettet PK

With the victory the Indians (14-1-6) capture the Division 4 North title again and will face Millis (again) on Wednesday night (5PM) at Manning Field.

The Hornets’ goal in the first half was nicely set up.  “Maya (Baker) and Mia (Cromwell) worked a nice give-and-go on that one,” explained ME coach Luke Cosgrove afterwards.  Mia ended up with a good look and drove her shot to the right side.

Mia Cromwell shoots

ME celebrates Mia Cromwell goal

Junior Dasa Hase started the play by getting the ball from the left wing into the middle to Maya. Dasa’s corner kicks were threatening all game long.

The Indians’ goal in the second half resulted from a halftime adjustment in their corner kick formation.  Alyssa Pettet normally draws two and three defenders and usually heads close to the goal when a corner kick heads that way.

“Avery (Hallinan) suggested that having Alyssa go away from the goal would open up the front of the goal,” said Coach Adam Thibodeau.

“I ran Alyssa’s route,” explained Avery, “and no one was on me as the corner kick (MK McElaney) came in.  I tipped it and then McKenna (Hallinan) put it in.”

Avery “insisted” that the shot would have gone in without her sister McKenna’s “help.”  My pictures tell me, however, that McKenna’s part was essential.  She dove feet first into a ball that was just about to be cleared out and sent it into the left corner of the net.

Avery (11) about to deflect to McKenna (1) in front

McKenna sees the ball near the goal line

McKenna kicks ball into corner by a defender and GK Kara Glynos

McKenna’s goal signaled by official

One thing that was certainly agreed on was the extraordinary game Alli Napoli had.  “Alli is an outstanding athlete, “said Coach Thibodeau.  “She took the team on her back today.  She was disappointed with the first goal.  She has forty-nine career shutouts for a reason.”

Waiting for the shootout

Amesbury doesn’t give up many goals (16) but they also don’t score very many (35).  “We’ve had six ties this year, so we have been preparing our penalty kicks for a while,” explained Coach Thibodeau.

Senior Gracie Doherty spent most of the afternoon chasing talented Dasa Hase around.  “She’s good with the ball and very fast,” said Gracie.

On her successful penalty kick: “I wanted to take my time and try to get it into a corner.”

Coach Cosgrove: “Amesbury was very good.  The D4 North was a showcase-and-a-half.  #5 (Alyssa Pettet) was phenomenal.  Almost unstoppable.”

Avery Hallinan didn’t practice yesterday.  “My ankle is killing me,” she said post-game.

On her successful PK: “I walked up and my stomach dropped.  I shot it and thought, ‘Okay, it went in!”

Bella Hadaegh and Lily O’Neill

Alyssa Pettet’s game-winning penalty kick was her 4th of the season.  “PK’s are very tough mentally,” the Holy Cross commit said afterwards.  “You have to tune out everything that is happening.”

On Alli Napoli: “I was confident with her in net in the shootout.  She’s so athletic that she would probably be good in any sport she tried.”

Alli may have seemed calm on the field but she wasn’t.  “I was nervous out there all the time,” she said.

McKenna Hallinan on the goal she scored: “Avery’s shot was NOT going in.  It was a twin-to-twin effort.  We have twin telepathy.  We love our twin-twin moments.”

The Hornets (11-4-5) alternated goalies.  Junior Leilani Brown was in net for the first half and the first overtime as well as for the first and third PK.  Senior Kara Glynos guarded the goal in the second half, second overtime, and the second and fourth PK.

Overcast conditions with light rain after the game was over.

Tough day for Manchester-Essex.  Their boys’ soccer team lost to Burke in the game before the Amesbury girls soccer game.

(Many of the pictures are long range.  Essential that you click on them to see them enlarged.  Some, also, are a bit blurry because of the distance away that they were taken from.)

Sophia Carter (13), Lily O’Neill (16), MK McElaney (14), Gabby Smyth (17)

Alli Napoli above the crowd

Coach Adam Thibodeau with captains and trophy

Amesbury goal celebrated

Amesbury celebrates goal

Amesbury team celebrates win

Amesbury team picture with banner

Amesbury trophy raised

Dasa Hase and MK McElaney

Gracie Doherty (18) and Maya Baker (1)

Coach Luke Cosgrove with ME captains and trophy

Maddy DiPietro ready to head

 

 

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Alyssa Pettet hat trick enough to get Amesbury past Ipswich 3-2

Alyssa Pettet lines up a penalty kick that turned into the first Amesbury goal

Alyssa Pettet and Lauryn Whynott

(Amesbury MA) Junior Alyssa Pettet switched from defender/playmaker to striker this year.

This afternoon that certainly looked like the right move as she scored three times as Amesbury held off Ipswich, 3-2.  It was Alyssa’s first hat trick and her fifth goal of the season.

“Striker is more fun,” Alyssa admitted afterwards, “but I like to learn different roles on the field because I think it makes me a better player.”  She has already committed to D1 Holy Cross.

Alyssa had all three of her goals twelve minutes into the second half and Amesbury (5-0-1) had a comfortable, 3-0, advantage, or so it seemed at the time.

Carter King (12) had a goal for Ipswich

The Tigers (0-5-1) had other ideas.

“One of the strengths of our team is that we keep fighting until the end of games,” said Ipswich coach David Wood.

And that they did.

There had been good chances for the Tigers but Indians goalie Alli Napoli (fresh off twenty-eight saves on Monday vs Masconomet) turned everything away.

But when Alli was injured, and had to leave the game, the winless Tigers had new life.

With no backup goalie available (out sick) sophomore Avery Hallinan took over as goalie…..on her birthday!

Avery was quite insistent after the game that playing goalie was not one of her birthday wishes.  “Last time I played there was in 8th grade in a town league game,” she explained.

Ipswich celebrates their second goal

With someone less experienced in net, Ipswich turned up the pressure.  By the time Alli returned to finish the game, the Tigers had collected two goals (Katie Rokes & Carter King).

Alyssa Pettet running off time in the closing second of the game

“How much time was left,” was a question only the lone official had any idea of.  Was in ten minutes?  Five minutes?  No one knew.

With little sense of how much time was left, you wondered if Ipswich had enough time to earn a remarkable tie.  They didn’t.  Alli went back in net after the second goal and the ball never reached her the rest of the way.

“It was an unfortunate situation with their goalie,” said Coach Wood.  “It did give us the opportunity to make a mini-comeback.”

Alyssa certainly took the pressure off her team after the Tigers two goals by getting into the distant corner with the ball and shielding off a defender while time ran out.

“We should have gone to the corners more, late in the game, to waste time,” added Alyssa.

AHS coach Adam Thibodeau was impressed with the Tigers.  “There is no quit in Ipswich.”

Alyssa’s first goal was on a penalty kick.  She dribbled past one defender and was tripped by another (Kyleigh Cranston) to set up the PK.

Goalie Alli Napoli confers with the Thibodeau’s

“Alyssa’s second goal was a thing of beauty,” said Coach Thibodeau.  “She blasted it into the far post.”

“My 3rd goal came after a clear-in from Gracie Doherty,” explained Alyssa.

The first Ipswich goal came on a long, high shot by senior Katie Rokes.  Teammate Carter King tallied the second goal after getting in close and firing a shot into the right corner.

Both Katie and Carter displayed the ability to get by defenders.  Carter was very effective dribbling laterally and finding openings.

The Indians had given up only two goals in their first five games.

Ipswich had scored eleven times but had surrendered twenty goals in five games.

Avery on the Masco win on Monday: “The Masco game was insane.  It was crazy from beginning to end.  McKenna (Hallinan) scored the only goal in the first five minutes of the second half.  She kicked a shot hard into the goalie that bounced back to her and she put it in.  We thought it didn’t go in and then it did.  We just packed it in defensively after that.  I moved back to defense and so did Alyssa.”

No, I don’t want my taxes to go up BUT it really is time for some turf fields with scoreboards and seating to become a reality in Amesbury.  I covered a boys soccer game on Monday at Stehlin Field in Newburyport so I know what could be.

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

Tigers second goal rolls into the corner

Throw-in for Rachel Bucher

Mary Kate McElaney set for a corner kick

Maddy DiPietro and Isabelle Harper

Katie Rokes and Avery Hallinan

Goalie Avery Hallinan clears with Gabby Smyth nearby

Carter King pressed by Indians

Ball loose (behind her leg) from Ipswich goalie Cayla Greenleaf with Alyssa Pettet close by

Angelina Rix guards the post on a corner kick

Alyssa Pettet shoots over Victoria Harper (18) and Kyleigh Cranston (19)

Alyssa Pettet finds the upper right corner for 3rd goal

Alli Napoli up for a save

Goalie Alli Napoli faces Carter King with Ashlee Porcaro defending

 

 

 

 

 

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Flannery O’Connor (24 points) drives Amesbury past Lynnfield 65-50

Flannery O’Connor (24 points) surrounded by Pioneers

Alli Napoli double-teamed

(Haverhill MA) There had been six lead changes and seven ties.

Then senior Flannery O’Connor took over in the third quarter.

The Cape Ann League All-Star engineered a run of nine unanswered points and a slim one-point lead (36-35) moved to a breathing-room 45-35 score.

The second-half surge of points was too much for foul-prone Lynnfield to overcome and they fell to (18-4) Amesbury 65-50 on Wednesday night at Whittier.

“We hung around for three quarters,” said Lynnfield coach Peter Bocchino afterwards.  “We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”

The Pioneers (14-9) did get within eight (51-43) with 5 ½ minutes to go in the game.

Ciara Sullivan

But then junior Alli Napoli set up teammate Ciara Sullivan for consecutive three’s and Amesbury’s double-digit spread was restored for good.

Tori Morelli and Cate MacDonald

Continuous fouling by both teams ruined any chance for patterned offense to be on display.  There were plenty of one-on-one’s which turned up fouls or layups.

Alli Napoli (Amesbury) and Tori Morelli (Lynnfield) were both in early foul trouble and on their respective benches for much of the first half.

The missing twosome were usually steadying influences on their teams and without them, the play was often ragged in the first half.

“I liked the way that the girls stayed composed with Alli out most of the first half,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos.

Amesbury had a six-point lead (23-17) with two minutes left in the half but a three by freshman Riley Hallahan and a layup by Grace Klonsky and Lynnfield was back tight, 23-22, at the half.

Amesbury was 19-for-27 from the foul line

The Pioneers had a four-point lead (29-25) three minutes into the second half but two free throws by Alli Napoli and a layup by Flannery O’Connor, that Alli assisted on, and the teams were tied.

Three free throws by Melissa Morelli (14 points) had Lynnfield within one (36-35) with only three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

This was when Flannery took over and led AHS to separation.  Part of the nine-point run was a triple (McKenna Hallinin) set up by Flannery.

Lynnfield played a zone defense and Amesbury struggled to get open looks.

“They were playing a zone,” said Flannery afterwards.  “Moving the ball makes that defense work.  I try to find cracks and dive into them.”

Faced with tight coverage whenever she touched the ball, Flannery was quick to find open teammates.

McKenna Hallinan looks to the hoop

The Hallinan twins (Avery and McKenna) brought energy, points, and defense.  The two freshmen helped carry the scoring load for the Indians in the first half.

Avery ended the game with twelve points while McKenna totaled nine.

Freshman Cate MacDonald tallied twelve points for LHS.  “Our freshman (Cate) came to play tonight,” said Coach Bocchino.  “She got a learning experience.”

I was impressed with the ball-handling of sophomore Grace Klonsky.  Several times she took the ball the full length of the court for a score.

Amesbury will now face St. Mary’s (Lynn) at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday.  The Spartans had a decisive win over Amesbury during the regular season.

Lynnfield had two easy tourney wins before facing Amesbury in the D3 North semifinals.  The Pioneers downed Charlestown 53-9 and Greater Lawrence 69-43.

Peter Bocchino was the CAL coach-of-the-year.

Mary Bullis and Riley Hallahan

Lynnfield had been 5-52 over the previous three seasons.

The Pioneers tourney win over Charlestown was their first since 2009.

Despite missing most of the first half, Alli Napoli finished with eleven points.

The Pioneers missed thirteen free throws.

Amesbury box

Lynnfield box

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

McKenna Hallinan

Alli Napoli

Alli Napoli moves into an open space

Caroline Waisnor sets to receive a pass

Flannery O’Connor in traffic

Grace Klonsky

Grace Klonsky and McKenna Hallinan

Melissa Morelli and Avery Hallinan

 

 

 

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Pentucket holds off Amesbury 50-48

Angelica Hurley (12 points) looks for an opening

Flannery O’Connor (16 points) guarded by Arielle Cleveland (11 points)

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury was ahead 20-7 after 5 ½ minutes.

Pentucket was ahead 26-24 seven minutes later.

“It was back-and-forth a lot,” said Angelica Hurley afterwards.

That back-and-forth thing took time to materialize in the early going but in the final 2+ quarters it happened often.  Seven ties.  Eight lead changes.

In the end, it was Pentucket (14-1) making the big shots, at the line and from the floor, and turning defense into offense, that carried them to a tough 50-48 win on Tuesday night over Amesbury (12-2).

Pentucket coach John McNamara

Pentucket has the best record in Massachusetts in Division 2.

“I’m proud of our girls,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos after. “We hung in there.  Pentucket is a good team.”

The Sachems took the lead for good (47-45) on a Liv Cross layin with 2:25 left.

Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) had a steal and made two resulting free throws a minute later to stretch the Sachems advantage to 50-46.

Freshman McKenna Hallinan (7 points) answered with a layup to close the gap to two with 1:04 left, but the Indians (12-2) couldn’t complete the comeback in their two possessions thereafter.

Turnover

“It was a great high school girls’ game,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “We knew they were good coming in.  They have maybe two of the best players in the Cape Ann League.  Amesbury will be a tough out in Division 3.”

The Indians got off to a tremendous start.  Shots were falling and uncontested layups were showing up.

Senior Flannery O’Connor (16 points) dominated the 20-7 getaway with twelve points.  She had four layups, a free throw, and even a three.

“They were clearing out for her,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “We had to adjust.  We did everything we could in the second half to keep her from getting good looks inside.”

Flannery O’Connor guarded by Megan Reading

The adjustment worked because Flannery saw multiple defenders in the second half and ended up with just one free throw.

The other noticeable defensive effort was Maddie Doyle covering Alli Napoli.  Significant size difference but Maddie kept the athletic Alli from direct routes to the basket.  Alli had one full-court layup in the 2nd half.

How did Amesbury stay with Pentucket in the second half if Flannery and Alli weren’t putting up points? Solid man-to-man defense and terrific rebounding.

The Sachems had only one rebound basket the whole game – Arielle Cleveland at the very end of the first half.

“We wanted to stop fast breaks and second-chance points,” explained Coach Dollos.

The Indians led 24-17 at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter.  The next three minutes?  All Pentucket.  While the Indians were defended into five turnovers, the Sachems put nine unanswered points together to take their first lead, 26-24.

Liv Cross (9 points) lines up a free throw

Maddie Doyle and Angelina Yacubacci finished the nine-point comeback with 3’s.

I thought at the time that this might be the beginning of a long evening for the Indians, but I was wrong.  Amesbury began to answer with points and “back-and-forth” was what we witnessed the exciting rest of the way.

Pentucket made 3-of-4 free throws in the end game.  “Free throws are always important,” said senior Liv Cross.  “Every coach I’ve ever had always says that these kinds of games come down to free throws.”

Ciara Sullivan gave Amesbury a quick 43-38 lead with five straight points to start the final quarter.  Back came Pentucket, however, with two Angelica Hurley layups and two Liv Cross free throws.  It was all part of that back-and-forth thing.

Amesbury had twenty-three turnovers and Pentucket nineteen.  The 3-minute collection of five of them in the second period may well have cost Amesbury the game.  Credit the Pentucket defense.

Coach McNamara: “The way we started we could have given up, so I give credit to our girls for recovering.”

Ciara Sullivan lines up a three

On Maddie Doyle guarding Alli Napoli: “She gave away about two feet but she’s scrappy and tough.”

On Angelina Yacubacci’s steal late in the game: “She’s a very smart defensive player.  She reads passes and lanes very well.  Her steal was huge.”

Coach Dollos: “Foul trouble hurt us.  I’m happy with what we did.  Losing isn’t fun but I’ll say we played pretty well.”

Things to work on: “We needed to move the ball better to get it inside.  We also could have used better shot selection at times.”

The best assessment of the game belonged to Coach Dollos, “It easily could have gone either way.”

Angelica Hurley had twelve points for Pentucket and teammate Arielle Cleveland added eleven. Alli Napoli collected ten points for Amesbury.

The victory extends the Pentucket winning streak to eleven.  Only loss was to Westford Academy.

The Amesbury defeat stops their win streak at eleven.  They had an early-season loss to North Reading that I covered.

Liv Cross on next year: “I got into Northeastern the other night.  It’s my top school but expensive.  Nursing is what interests me.  I might go to UMass Lowell because I got into their nursing program.”

The intensity of the two coaches spread into the stands.  It seemed as if every whistle was challenged by the side whistled against.

Amesbury box

Pentucket box

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

Plenty of contact

Mary Bullis defends

Turnover

Angelica Hurley eyes the hoop guarded by Flannery O’Connor

Arielle Cleveland (11 points) looks to pass

 

 

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