Tag Archives: Arielle Cleveland

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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