Tag Archives: Arielle Cleveland

Ipswich sweeps Pentucket on the road in season opener for both teams

Megan Reading (23), Anna Mossler (11), Meghan Wallace (27)

Lou Roesler – 9 digs for Ipswich

(West Newbury MA) Some might call it rebuilding.

Others might prefer reloading.

Ipswich girls’ volleyball started their 2021 season with a three-set sweep over Ipswich (25-15,25-18,25-12) on Monday night.

The Tigers (1-0) reached the Division 3 state semifinals last season.

“We graduated seven seniors from that team (16-7) but the newcomers to this year’s team blew us away in practices and in the game today,” said senior captain Lou Roesler.

Rachel Alleva

“It was a great season opener,” said Ipswich first-year coach Staci Sonke post-match.  “Obviously we had a little bit of rust to shake off because a lot of these girls hadn’t played in six months.  We had four really good seniors (Jillian Gregory,Anna Mossler,Gabrielle Ring, Lou Roesler) giving us a good foundation out there tonight.”

Pentucket is only in its second season of having a team.  With plenty of enthusiasm, but little experience, the Sachems took their lumps going 0-16 in that first season.

Starting this season with the likes of talented/experienced Ipswich was not an ideal matchup for the home team.

But they gave it their best and had good starts in all three sets.

Pentucket coach John McNamara

“We battled, but we gave away a lot of points,” said John McNamara, Pentucket’s first-year coach.

“Ipswich is very good,” he said. “They’re solid.  We had stretches where we made multiple mistakes in a row and all of a sudden you spot them six points.  They’re going to keep that lead.”

“Pentucket gave us a good run in the first set,” said Coach Sonke, “and it was nice to get our groove back in the 2nd and 3rd sets.”

“We’ll get better,” said Coach McNamara, “but we have a lot of work to do.”

Coach Sonke also saw work ahead for her team.  “There are still things to improve on.  The idea is to stay consistent out there.”

These are some of the Ipswich numbers: Jillian Gregory 6 aces, Kendra Brown 7 assists, Meghan Wallace 6 kills, Lou Roesler 9 digs.

Ipswich coach Staci Sonke

Lou Roesler: “I was really excited to get back on the court after Covid.  During the summer, I set my expectations low and prepared myself for no season.  The reality that we would actually play came around Christmas.  I have been accepted at a number of colleges.  I am interested in humanities and environmental studies.”

It was interesting to see senior basketball players, Megan Reading & Mackenzie Currie, giving volleyball a try for the first time for Pentucket.

This story will be linked on Twitter (@mcclellandpeter) and pictures will appear later on Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).

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

Macey Rodrigues-Cowl leads the Sachems onto the court

Arielle Cleveland and Mackenzie Currie

Megan Reading

Ready for a return

Meghan Wallace

Arielle Cleveland block

Jillian Gregory

Meghan Wallace (6 kills)

Block at the net

Nicole Zahornasky

Kendra Brown (7 assists)

Ally Cacciapuoti

Anna Mossler dives

Anna Mossler and Meghan Wallace at the net

Lou Roesler – backrow hit

Anna Mossler serves the match winner

 

 

 

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Pentucket avenges earlier loss winning Kinney Division title 34-23 over Newburyport

Pentucket wins the Kinney Division (CAL vs Cancer) tournament

Emma Foley and Arielle Cleveland

Makenna Ward surrounded by Sachems

(Newburyport MA) Just over two weeks ago, Newburyport got the best of Pentucket.

The game was fast, and the points were flowing.

Against most teams, that works in the Sachems favor.  But it didn’t against Newburyport and a 58-54 loss resulted.

“We probably over-coached last time,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara after tonight’s 34-23 win.

“We went back to our basic man-to-man principles for tonight’s game and didn’t do anything fancy,” he explained.  “We just kept kids in front of us.”

The victory won the Kinney Division (CAL vs Cancer) tournament for Pentucket (12-1).

The formerly undefeated Clippers (11-1) were done in by a three-point second quarter and a two-point third quarter.

Mackenzie Currie (11 points) 5-for-7 from the line

After those two scoring famines, Newburyport was behind, 23-13, and could not generate enough offense to make things interesting in the final quarter.

“You have to give Pentucket credit,” said Newburyport coach Karen Grutchfield afterwards.  “They played harder than we did.”

“It was frustrating to miss so many layups and free throws,” added Coach Grutchfield.

Poor free throw shooting may have been the key to the loss.  The Clippers were only able to make three-of-sixteen from the stripe.

In the win at Pentucket, the Clippers sealed that one by making eight free throws in the final forty seconds.

“A lot of our shots were off tonight,” said senior Abigail Gillingham.  “We haven’t played this way all season.”

The Clippers did start off well.  Sophomore Emma Foley hit two jump shots during an eight-point first-quarter run to put Newburyport in front 8-3.

Arielle Cleveland (10 points) 6-for-10 from the line

Pentucket took the lead, 11-10, in the second quarter after Arielle Cleveland (10 points) cashed two free throws.

Arielle ended the Sachems second-quarter scoring connecting a long pass to Greta Mauer for a layup.

Pentucket’s halftime lead was 16-11.

“We were confident that if we tweaked our defense enough, we could contain them,” said Coach McNamara, “the question was whether we could score enough points.”

The Clippers had been putting up plenty of points all season, so a five-point deficit at halftime seemed like a minor obstacle.

An Abigail Gillingham jumper (from Leah Metsker) made this a one-possession game with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Whether it was poor offense or great defense is speculation.  The fact is that Newburyport didn’t score a point in the final six minutes.

Abigail Gillingham (9 points) shoots over Mackenzie Currie

Pentucket used this time to build up a ten-point lead (23-13) by quarter’s end thanks to an Arielle Cleveland free throw and two other layups from the Sachems senior.

Arielle’s last basket was a runner in the lane just before the quarter ended.

Arielle (10 points) played only four minutes in the first meeting between the two teams.

“It hurt us last time not having Arielle,” said Coach McNamara.  “She can handle the ball and score baskets. We were thrown for a loop a little bit when we lost her last game.”

The Clippers were able to get within six points twice in the final quarter.

“I was proud of the way we kept pushing, even to the end,” said Abigail Gillingham (9 points).

Abigail’s jump shot (assist Jackie Doucette) put Newburyport within six (25-19) with five minutes left.

Abby Dube made the only three of the game

Abby Dube answered for Pentucket (assist Arielle Cleveland) with the only three either team would make during the entire game.

Abigail then had a free throw and a jump shot from the corner (assist Makenna Ward) to narrow things to, 28-22, with three minutes remaining.

Pentucket, however, built their lead back up by getting points on three straight possessions (Audrey Conover free throw, two Mackenzie Currie layups) and shutting out the Clippers during this segment.

The margin was now eleven (33-22) in the closing minute and Pentucket had the victory.

Greta Mauer: “This was our second time playing them.  We had to bring it to them, and we did.”

Greta Mauer lines up a shot

Mackenzie Currie (11 points): “It was hard to turn around from the Lynnfield game yesterday, but we all stepped up in some way.  For a very weird season, it was a good way to go out.”

Coach Grutchfield: “There were no easy shots in this one.  It was a hard one to end on.”

Coach McNamara: “This was only the third time we’ve ended a season with a tournament win.  The other times were state championships.  We have five seniors who contributed so much to the program.”

The Sachems defense limited sophomores Jackie Doucette and Deidre McElhinney to two points each.  In the first meeting, Jackie had twelve and Deidre eleven.

Newburyport box

Pentucket box

The link to this game will be posted on Twitter (@mcclellandpeter).  It also should appear in Mascores.  Pictures should be posted on Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea) on Friday.

All of the pictures above and below should enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Arielle Cleveland guarded by Jackie Doucette

Makenna Ward drives to the basket

Emma Foley in for two

Anna Affolter in the lane

Audrey Conover elevates to defend

Greta Mauer gets a layup

Gabby Loughran block

Jackie Doucette pressures Arielle Cleveland

Makenna Ward

Emma Foley (7 points)

Audrey Conover and Deidre McElhinney

Mackenzie Currie

 

 

 

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Pentucket’s efficient defense leads to 42-23 win over Amesbury

Megan Reading (10 points) turns defense into a layup

McKenna Hallinan tries the baseline against Gabby Bellacqua

(Amesbury MA) “This was the cleanest game we’ve played defensively this season,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara post-game.

“What we talked about they executed really well,” he added.

The Sachems (9-1) challenged every Amesbury pass, dribble, and shot and coasted to a, 42-23, win on Friday night.

The Indians (7-3) went down, 9-1, in the first quarter and never recovered.

“Pentucket is very good,” said AHS coach Gregg Dollas afterwards.  “They’re very organized.  Very structured.  We just couldn’t gather ourselves.”

“We’ve had four practices in three weeks,” added Coach Dollas, “and at times in this game that lack of practice showed.”

Avery Hallinan shoots as Arielle Cleveland defends

That lack of practice was most apparent in Amesbury’s turnover number.  The Indians lost the ball on twenty-eight possessions without getting off a shot.  Plenty of wasted opportunities for Amesbury.

“We had way too many turnovers,” admitted Coach Dollas. “Plenty of silly passes and things like that.”

Senior Megan Reading led all scorers with ten points including several outside shots.

“My teammates made drives which set up the rest of us for nice open looks,” explained Megan.

And there were plenty of those open looks for Pentucket.  Amesbury was blessed that the Sachems were off from the outside and hit only four 3’s.

The Indians had as many three’s as Pentucket.  The home team had long one’s from McKenna Hallinan, Liv DeLong, and Meagan McAndrew in the last quarter.

Arielle Cleveland covered by Gabby Redford

Two years ago, Pentucket won at Amesbury by only two points.  Four years ago, it was a three-point game.  As a result, the one-sidedness of today’s game was surprising.  However, Covid-19 has taken the “normal” out of everything, including basketball.

“Amesbury is a good team,” said Coach McNamara.  “The score doesn’t indicate it.  They got off to a slow start and we were in control most of the way.”

The Sachems lead was 21-10 with three minutes left in the first half.  The next seven points belonged to Pentucket.  Freshman Gabby Bellacqua drained a three.  Senior Greta Mauer stole a pass and went for a layup.  Sophomore Audrey Conover drove from end-to-end.

This offensive collection elevated the Pentucket advantage to 28-10 in the early part of the second half.

Mackenzie Currie (9 points) splits Gabby Redford and Liv DeLong

Mackenzie Currie (9 points) and Arielle Cleveland (8 points) were the other two top scorers for the Sachems.

Gabby Redford paced Amesbury with six points.

When McKenna Hallinan got into early foul trouble, Gabby took over the point.  “I thought that Gabby stepped up in terms of controlling the ball,” said Coach Dollas.

The Indians three losses have been to Newburyport (twice) and Pentucket (once).  Neither of those teams are in Amesbury’s division in the Wednesday/Friday tournament of this coming week.  You have to like their chances.

Pentucket’s only loss has been to Newburyport.  Those two teams could well be facing each other for a second time in next Friday’s divisional championship.

Arielle Cleveland (8 points) breaks in with Ciara Sullivan in pursuit

In the February 3rd meeting, Pentucket’s top scorer (Arielle Cleveland) missed most of the game with an injury.  The Sachems squandered a lead in the last minute, falling, 58-54.  A rematch with the undefeated Clippers has “must-see” written all over it!

Megan Reading (senior): “I want to study kinesiology or exercise science. I want to get into the sports medicine field.”

Megan’s top school choice is Michigan.  “I have been accepted at Delaware, Maryland, Temple, and Penn State so far with a few more to hear from.”

Megan explained that her knee injury played a part in her interest in sports medicine.  “I got to experience that side of things with the injury.”

In the closing seconds of the game, reserves Ally Cacciapuoti (Pentucket) and Meagan McAndrews (Amesbury) nailed three’s.

Amesbury box

Pentucket box

The link to this game will appear on Twitter (mcclellandpeter) and Mascores.  Tomorrow I plan to post pictures on Instagram (mcclellandmiscellanea).

All of the pictures above and below should enlarge considerably if you click on them.

Emma Dollas looks for a pass

Emma Lopata (44) guards Liv DeLong

Ciara Sullivan shoots in the lane

Gabby Redford finds a lane

Abby Dube defends Alyssa Pettet

Ciara Sullivan looks to the rim as Mackenzie Currie defends

Bethany Cloutier gets a layup

Gabby Redford looks to pass as Audrey Conover defends

Alyssa Pettet trapped by Mackenzie Currie and Arielle Cleveland

Lana Mickelson to the basket

Scramble for the ball

Abby Dube

Megan Reading

 

 

 

 

 

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Angelica Hurley hits game winner in last second as Pentucket defeats Tewksbury 36-34

Pentucket players mob Angelica Hurley after her game-winning basket

Good shot of the referee. Not so good of Angelica’s winning basket.

(Tewksbury MA) Everyone had a beef with the referees.

Pentucket coach John McNamara, coaching against the school he graduated from, questioned many calls.

Tewksbury coach Mark Bradley couldn’t believe Alli Wild’s go-ahead free throw was negated by a lane violation with 8 seconds left.

And me? In comes Angelica Hurley for the buzzer-beating winner and the referee intrudes into the special shot.

Angelica’s last-second shot was indeed the game winner as Pentucket escaped with a 36-34 victory over Tewksbury on Sunday afternoon.

“We struggled,” said Coach McNamara afterwards. “We didn’t shoot the ball well at all.”

Kati Polimeno and Angelina Yacubacci

The teams were quite familiar with each other having faced off in the D2 North finals at the Tsongas Arena eleven months ago.

The Sachems (18-1) took that one, 56-45, and went on from there to win the D2 state title. Today’s victory runs their winning streak to fourteen. Last loss was to Masco on January 3rd.

“They’re a tough team to play against because it’s hard to simulate their style of play in practice,” explained Coach Bradley. “We had a game Friday night so there was little time to prepare.”

Tewksbury (9-10) was down, 19-10, but recovered.

“We took their aggressiveness and used it to our advantage,” said Coach Bradley recalling how his team fought back to leave with a 19-19 tie at halftime.

Alli Wild blocks Angelica Hurley’s layup attempt

Of the Redmen’s comeback, Coach McNamara said, “We missed three’s, there were long rebounds and they were off to the races in transition.”

In this game, Tewksbury didn’t give up backcourt turnovers and were quick enough to get back on defense after missed shots. They also had shot-blocker Alli Wild in their defense.

Alli not only blocked several Sachem layup attempts but she didn’t foul doing it.

“We knew about her (Alli Wild) from last year at the Tsongas,” said Coach McNamara. “Her defense is special.”

The Redmen ran the last nine points of the second period. Pentucket, meanwhile, didn’t score a point for the last seven minutes of that same second period.

The Sachems, however, started the second half with six straight points. Two free throws by Angelica Hurley and two inside shots by Arielle Cleveland (15 points) sparked the visitors.

Arielle Cleveland (15 points) benefited from some great feeds from teammates

One of Arielle’s scores came after teammate Angelina Yacubacci drove into the lane and drew Arielle’s defender over to help defensively. A quick pass from Angelina gave Arielle an uncontested shot.

“Angelina sees those passing opportunities very well,” said Arielle post-game.

Pentucket was still up by six (33-27) after Angelina once again set up Arielle for a layup in the first minute of the 4th quarter.

But the home team refused to go away. “I’m proud of our girls,” said Coach Bradley. “We competed and battled even when we were down.”

The Redmen scored the next seven points. Julia Cafferty had two free throws in the surge of offense. Lexi Polimeno (9 points) was the big spark. The junior drained a three and later hit a runner from the side to push Tewksbury in front for the first time in the game, 34-33, with 1:43 left.

Next possession Pentucket got a point back after MacKenzie Currie made one-of-two free throws.

Both teams failed to get anything in their next possession.

Tewksbury had the ball and a timeout with twenty-one seconds left. Carefully they worked the ball around before Alli Wild was fouled with 8.8 seconds remaining.

Alli made the free throw……….but then it didn’t count. Why? Because she had violated the lane. I assumed that this meant that she had stepped on or over the line. My pictures indicate that neither happened. (Enlarge them for a better look.)

This unfortunate (for Tewksbury) turn of events gave Pentucket possession with a full court to cover in eight seconds.

Lexi Polimeno (9 points)

“We wanted to set a high ball-screen and let Jelly (Angelica Hurley) come off the screen and create,” said Coach McNamara.

“I was looking for someone open but when I saw #15 (Alli Wild) jump up in the air I went for the layup,” recalled Angelica.

The shot went up and in. Then the buzzer sounded. There was a pause, the referees agreed that the shot beat the buzzer, and then the Sachems celebrated.

Coach McNamara: “Tewksbury is a very good team from a tough conference (Merrimack Valley Conference). It was a nice win, but we’ve got some things to clean up.”

Arielle Cleveland: “On that last play I was supposed to set a screen on Jelly’s defender. Angelica and Angelina are great teammates. I feed off their energy because they bring it every single game.”

Coach Bradley: “John (McNamara) does a phenomenal job. Year after year he runs his successful system. John has ties to Tewksbury, and I know his family here. He offered to play here, and we want to play good basketball teams at the end of the season.”

Angelica Hurley (13 points)

Angelica Hurley: “Tewksbury is a very good team. Fifteen (Alli Wild) is very talented. We’re heading into the state tournament in two weeks.”

Today’s game was an “endowment” game. That means that all the stats count but winning or losing will not influence placement in the state tournament.

Pentucket box

Tewksbury box

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

Alli Wild (12 points) guarded by MacKenzie Currie

Angelica Hurley fouled by Julia Cafferty

Angelina Yacubacci

Greta Maurer guards Alli Wild

Julia Cafferty

Julia Cafferty looks to pass

Katie Polimeno defends Angelina Yacubacci

Kati Polimeno unguarded

MacKenzie Currie and Alli Wild

MacKenzie Currie shoots free throw

Maddie Stovesand

Maddie Stovesand and MacKenzie Currie

 

 

 

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Triton sweeps challenging Pentucket in CAL volleyball

Mia Berardino (13) led Triton with thirteen kills.

Katherine Quigley (11) and Arielle Cleveland (21) at the net

(West Newbury MA) What a difference a month makes!

Pentucket continues winless in their first volleyball season but their improvement was noticeable.

“Pentucket has improved considerably since the last time we saw them,” said Triton coach Bob Van Etten after tonight’s match with the Sachems. “Their middle was a lot better.  They passed better and were able to work the middle.  It was a hard-fought win for us.”

Jillian Sheehy readies to hit

The Sachems reached a season-high twenty-two points in the second game.

“Our confidence is getting better,” said Pentucket coach Lauren Bennett.  “The skill levels have improved so much.”

The final scores were; 25-16, 25-22, and 25-18.

Mia Berardino was the star of the show for the (5-11) Vikings.  The tall sophomore was able to produce a steady flow of serves and hits that gave the home team trouble.

“She (Mia) had an outstanding night,” said Coach Van Etten.  “She had a lot of kills, smart hits, and great serves.”

Mia finished with fifteen kills and four service aces.

Arielle Cleveland and Coach Lauren Bennett

“Mia is very, very talented,” said junior Macey Cowl of Pentucket.  “When she gets set up you know it’s coming and it’s coming hard.”

Despite Mia’s impressive performance, Pentucket kept things interesting in all three games.

In the first game, the Sachems rode some Triton errors and Arielle Cleveland hits to a 15-12 lead and a Vikings timeout.  After the timeout, the team from Byfield put a lengthy run together.  The Vikings won ten straight points, with sophomore Molly Kimball serving and Mia getting set up for kills, and Triton gained separation, 22-15.

The best takeaway for Pentucket would be the second game.  The Sachems trailed early, 6-2 and 10-6 before rallying on Triton miscues and Arielle’s serves to tie things at 16-16.  Later a serve by senior Caitlin Kutcher hit the net and dropped in and the game was tied 22-22.  But along came Mia Berardino.  Three straight times she was beautifully set up for kills and Triton escaped 25-22.

Molly Kimball serves

“I give so much credit to our setters,” said Mia afterwards.  “They did such a great job putting the ball on the net so that we could hit it down.”

The Sachems never led in the final game, but the deficit was small (16-15) late in that game.  The biggest cheer from the Pentucket faithful was after sophomore Nicole Zahornasky was able to block one of Mia’s kill attempts and have the rebound drop in for a Sachems point.

Coach Van Etten gave special credit to Molly Kimball: “We were playing a 6-2, not a 5-1, so Molly was only getting half the touches.  For her to get nineteen assists under those conditions was huge.”

Jillian Sheehy: “We had some people step up tonight.  We could have won.  This was one of our best games.”

Nicole Zahornasky checks out

Macey Cowl: “Our serves were good.  We had some really nice rallies.  We’re getting there.”

The Vikings have now won two straight.

“We have more wins than we had last year already,” said Mia.  Mia was a Cape Ann League All-Star last year.

Arielle Cleveland: “Volleyball is helpful for basketball.  It improves my anticipation and my jumping.  I enjoy the game a lot.  We’re progressively getting better.  I have been playing AAU basketball on a team that has been winning a lot of games.”

Mia Berardino: “A lot of things worked tonight.  It was a loud crowd, but we stay focused.”

Coach Bennett: “I could see the disappointment in the girls’ faces afterwards and in some ways I liked that.  Even though this was our best game, the girls still want more.”

The quest for that elusive W will continue for Pentucket.  The rematch ahead with Georgetown might be the place for it to happen.

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

Ava Ford (23)

Caitlin Kutcher

Jillian Sheehy

Katherine Quigley serves

Hit in the middle

Lena Freeman (26) and Molly Kimball (8) at the net

Lena Freeman (26) blocks Nicole Zaharnasky

Macey Cowl (18) blocks

Mia Berardino hits and Macey Cowl tries to block

Mia Berardino

Molly Kimball had nineteen assists

Paige Volpone

Waiting for a serve

 

 

 

 

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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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Pentucket stays undefeated with 57-33 win over North Reading

Angelica Hurley pressures Ali Grasso

Jess Galvin (12) guards Casey McAuliffe (10)

(West Newbury MA) The names change but the approach to defense doesn’t.

Pentucket (3-0) held North Reading (2-1) to just two points in the first quarter and went from there to a 57-33 win on Friday night.

Both teams had started the season with two wins over Cape Ann League competition.

“Pentucket is ahead of us,” said NR coach Bob Melillo afterwards.  “Their intensity level is better, and they are very good at running plays.”

On this night, the Sachems turned up layups on inbounds plays, backdoor cuts, and a full-court pass (Angelica Hurley) that led to a layup (Angelina Yacubacci) against full-court pressure.

Arielle Cleveland (16 points) tracks down a loose ball

After the first quarter (13-2) the Sachems joined the Hornets in struggling to score.  That lasted into the final quarter.  NR was within nine (31-22) as the 4th period began.

In that final quarter the Pentucket defense, which had been very good, was joined by a good-things barrage down the offensive end.  The points started flowing from in close (seven layups) and the lead reached twenty (50-30) 5 ½ minutes into the last quarter.

Arielle Cleveland led all scorers with sixteen points, including fourteen in the second half.  “Arielle is a very good basketball player,” said Coach John McNamara.  “She dominated the last portion of the game underneath at both ends.  She is only a sophomore and going to get even better.”

Lauren Sullivan paced the Hornets with eleven points.

Coach Melillo was disappointed with the way his team played.  “I thought that we would be much better than we were today,” he said.  “There were too many easy baskets and second-shot baskets.”

Julia Howse (33) blocks a shot

“North Reading is a very good team,” said Coach McNamara.  “I thought that they might be the best team in the CAL.”  Not on this night.  The Hornets never got comfortable against the hounding man-to-man coverage they faced.  Much of their movement on offense was east-to-west rather than toward the basket.

The North Reading defense was solid in the middle periods.  Sophomore Julia Howse had at least four blocks by my count.  She also made several terrific cross-court passes.  I won’t get into her skills as a shortstop on the NR softball team!

Angelina Hurley and Angelica Yacubacci each had fourteen points for Pentucket.

“We work a lot on in bounds plays,” said Coach McNamara.  “If you can get a couple of them to work in a game it’s big.”

Coach Melillo was optimistic about the future.  “We’ll get better.  I think that now the girls understand how hard they have to play for 32 minutes to compete with a team like Pentucket.”

Jess Galvin (12) looks for an opening

The Hornets were able to limit the Sachems to only three 3’s.  However, by closely defending the perimeter they opened up driving opportunities for Angelina, Angelica, and Jess Galvin.

I asked Coach McNamara about the after-effects of the overtime loss to Foxboro in the D2 state semifinals.  “The kids have gotten over the Foxboro loss.  As I coach, I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

North Reading was 16-6 last season.

Pentucket was 23-3 last season.

Coach McNamara is in his 13th season with Pentucket and currently has a remarkable 260-44 won/loss record during that time.

Good crowd in house on a warm (for December) night outside.

North Reading box

Pentucket box

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

Planning

Tight Pentucket defense

Ali Grasso (3) guarded by Maddi Doyle

Angelina Yacubacci (22) drives past Julia Howse (33) and Mia DeNofrio (23)

Angelina Yacubacci (22) eyes defender Julia Howse (33)

Blocking out

Casey McAuliffe at the line

Scramble on the floor

Julia Howse (33) at the line

Mia DeNofrio (23) in for two

 

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Filed under North Reading, Pentucket