Tag Archives: Ben Yanakakis

Defense leads Ipswich to 74-69 overtime win against Amesbury

Jason Finkst (24) shoots over three Indians

Izzy Morrissey (10 points) made a huge three in overtime

(Amesbury MA) One team had trouble making shots while the other team had trouble with turnovers.

In overtime, it was Ipswich that made a big shot (Izzy Morrissey) to give the Tigers an exciting, 74-69, win over Amesbury on Thursday night.

The Indians (7-11) honored their seniors pregame and there were 3rd & 4th graders playing at halftime.  That brought out an enthusiastic crowd and there was plenty for them to get revved up about.

The most excited person after the game may have been Ipswich coach Alan Laroche.  “Wow, that was nice,” said the Tigers’ coach. “After the season we’ve had, to get that win sure felt good.”

Ipswich (6-15) had W’s over Rockport (twice) and Georgetown (once) in the Cape Ann League before tonight’s victory.

I saw Amesbury in their home opener against Hamilton-Wenham.  The Indians lost only by three points in that one despite thirty turnovers.

Tonight’s loss had a similar flavor for the home team.  They were in the 30’s again in turnovers and still could have won this game.

“What turned the game for us,” said Coach Laroche, “was our defense.  We pressured them into a lot of turnovers.”

Senior Zach Labrecque eyes the hoop

The pass attempt after an Ipswich double-team seemed to be the one that led to the most Amesbury miscues.

Amesbury shot their way into sizable leads in every quarter; 18-12 in the first, 26-16 in the second, 45-34 in the third, and 62-54 in the fourth.

However, in every quarter the visitors would rally back, driven by their defense.

In the last quarter Ipswich actually rallied into a three-point lead with fifteen seconds left on a turn-two by Izzy Morrissey plus a free throw.  But Nick Everett had the answer as he drained a three of his own from in front of the Amesbury student section sending those folks into a frenzy and this one into overtime.

In overtime, Zach Long made two straight free throws and Billy Sydlowski answered with two free throws with 1:43 remaining.

For Amesbury, there were three turnovers before Billy made two of his four free throws and there were two more miscues after the free throws. Those final two killed Amesbury’s comeback plans.

Zach Long (20 points) shoots over Jaden Kelher

After the AHS free throws tied the game (69-69), Izzy Morrissey took a pass from Ben Yanakakis and hit what turned out to be the game-winning three with 1:25 left.

Jason Finkst’s two free throws with nine seconds left finished the scoring.

“We made some big shots down the stretch,” said Coach Laroche. “Izzy’s three in OT was huge for us.”

Coach Laroche: “It was one of those games where we didn’t melt when we got behind.  Our defense was key to our comebacks.”

Zach Long (20), Ben Yanakakis (19), Izzy Morrissey (10), and Jason Finkst (12) led the Ipswich scorers.

AHS coach Tom Comeau gave minutes to everyone on his team and ten of them scored points.  Billy Sydlowski (16), and Thomas McAndrews (14) led the scorers.

On January 5th Amesbury won at Ipswich (75-63) as they had four players reach double figures.

Ipswich had lost three straight games prior to tonight’s win.

Dan Stedman turned a teammate’s missed free throw into an old-fashioned 3-point play as part the Tigers comeback in the 4th quarter.

Freshman Thomas McAndrews was 6-for-6 from the foul line

Freshman Thomas McAndrews looks like a player with a bright future with Amesbury.  He made all six free throw attempts and had a high degree of success dribbling the ball and passing the ball against the Ipswich defense.

Amesbury box

Ipswich box

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

John and Billy Sydlowski were two of the seniors honored before the game

Andrew Spanoghe (2) tries to defend driving Jack Norris

Jacob Eliopoulos passes to a teammate for a layup

Billy Sydlowski (16 points) gets to the basket

Nick Everett in the lane

Nick Everett passes in flight

Tight Ipswich defense





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Ipswich pulls away from Amesbury 42-21 with strong second half

Pat Gillis (three touchdowns) finds space and blocking (Tommy Herron 82 and William Ginolfi 65)

Amesbury’s Zack Levarity (2) gets the signal that he has scored at touchdown.

(Amesbury MA) Giving up 30+ points per game won’t win many of them and that logic held true for Amesbury Friday night as they fell, 42-21, to Ipswich at Landry Stadium.

Amesbury (0-5) was in a tie with the Tigers (3-2) in the second period, 14-all, but stayed quiet thereafter offensively until a last-minute tally versus the Ipswich reserves.

Two rushes into the game Ipswich was on the board with sophomore Justin Moran in the Amesbury end zone.  It looked to me as if the same play was used to get Justin to the Amesbury 25 and later in for the score.

Justin Moran (5) off to an early Ipswich touchdown.

The ease of the Ipswich touchdown had me thinking early on that the Amesbury defense was going to be severely tested……….and they were.

I wondered if the Indians could generate enough offense to hang around in a high-scoring matchup.

It turned out that Amesbury could put up points.  The home team answered the first two Tigers’ touchdowns with ones of their own.  Junior Patrick Birmingham figured in both of them.  His 17-yard run in the first quarter put Amesbury on the Ipswich five where Zach Levarity scored from.  In the second quarter, Patrick found daylight on the right and QB Blake Bennett tossed him a 13-yard catch-and-run tally.

Patrick Birmingham hauls in a TD pass from Blake Bennett.

So Amesbury wasn’t going away.  It was a matter of which team would be unable to answer first.

Ipswich responded to the tie score in the 2nd quarter with the second of Pat Gillis’ three TDs.  I am not sure if Pat was even touched on any of his touchdowns.  Good blocking and good deception within the Tigers offensive schemes created some serious openings in the Amesbury defense.

Amesbury didn’t get the score back in the first half but they received the kickoff in the 2nd half.

Something transformed the Ipswich defense in the second half.  The Indians tried a variety of plays in that second half but seemed to be confronted with multiple tacklers much of the time and held to short gains.

Pat Gillis (44) finds a huge opening to score

The Tigers gained two-TD separation in the third quarter.  A pass from QB Ben Yanakakis to senior Alex Bruhm had Ipswich cooking at the Amesbury five.  Pat Gillis finished in the end zone several plays later.

You’re trailing by fourteen points late in the third quarter so you dust off the passing attack.  Amesbury went that route with absolutely disastrous results.

Two straight Amesbury series ended up in touchdowns……..for Ipswich.  Interceptions.

Trying to get credit straight in sports is an interest of mine.  Christian Fabbri and Alex Bruhm ran back interceptions for touchdowns for Ipswich.  I took enough pictures so that I could see contributors to those pick-six plays.  Pete Spinale was bringing AHS quarterback Blake Bennett down as he tossed the first interception.  On the second one, Ben Yanakakis was in Blake’s face, certainly affecting Blake’s view downfield.

Christian Fabbri has an interception and blocking to get him into the Amesbury end zone.

Alex Bruhm takes an interception to the Amesbury end zone with Jacob Hamel chasing.

Needless to say, that revived IHS defense put fourteen straight points up for the visitors and put this game well out of reach.

Captain Connor Whitley among those honored pregame at Landry

Nice crowd at Landry Stadium as the senior athletes and cheerleaders were recognized.

Nice weather too.  I’ll take low 60’s, without a breeze, anytime at night in early October.

On one play in the second half, Ipswich had only ten players on defense and still held the Indians to a small gain.

I was completely fooled by Amesbury when they went for the first of two their extra points.  Why?  They had no holder just #90 (Ruairi Cleary) back there.  I assumed a timeout was coming but instead the ball was snapped to Ruairi and he dropkicked it for the extra point. Didn’t Doug Flutie do that once for the Patriots?

Ruairi Cleary drop kicks.

When the attempt for the second Ruairi extra-point attempt occurred I was camera ready and got a shot of the sophomore doing it.

Plenty of helpful information from the public address announcer.

Ipswich had lost its other two road games to Newburyport and Triton.

The Tigers have defeated Amesbury four straight times.

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

Amesbury gang tackles Pat Gillis

Ben Yanakakis stopped by Amesbury at the goal line.

Ben Yanakakis pressures Amesbury QB Blake Bennett and an interception resulted.

Matt Warren (50) recovers a fumble

Logan Burrill gang tackled by the Tigers

Izzy Morrissey hit hard by Zack Levarity

Pat Gillis breaks free

Pat Gillis races alone into the end zone

Caleb Comeau kicked five extra points.

Pete Spinale pressures Amesbury QB Blake Bennett and it leads to an interception.

Ipswich quarterback Ben Yanakakis




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Great free throw shooting earns Amesbury a 76-59 win over Ipswich

Kyle Martin (21 points) at the line

Kyle Martin (21 points) at the line

(Amesbury MA) The Amesbury Indians used their size and excellent free throw shooting to defeat Ipswich, 76-59, on Thursday night in Cape Ann League play.

Kyle Martin paced the home team with twenty-one points.

Amesbury (2-1) employed an active 2-3 zone that kept Ipswich away from second chances and limited the Tigers (2-2) to long-range opportunities.  Even the long-range Ipswich tries were heavily contested by the taller Indians.

The Tigers took an early 4-2 lead but went cold for over four minutes while Amesbury ran fourteen straight points to create separation, 16-4, in the first quarter.  Kyle Martin contributed five points while Ryan Patterson (11 points) added two fast-break layins.

Amesbury was intent on breaking after every rebound and they had plenty of fast-break chances.

Zach Long made four 3's for Ipswich

Zach Long made four 3’s for Ipswich

The Indians had a 12-turnover second period and let the visitors back into the game.  Two consecutive 3’s by junior Zach Long forced Amesbury out of the zone defense and Ipswich was able to get to within five (30-25) on a third Zach Long three with less than two minutes left in the 2nd quarter.

Amesbury returned to their zone defense and Ipswich resumed struggling to get scores.

Amesbury led, 32-25, at the half.

The Indians took control of the game in the 3rd period.  They frequently took the ball to the basket to get points.  Plenty of fouls were called and Amesbury was remarkable at the foul line making 24-of-28 in the second half.

Amesbury had the lead to twelve (37-25) a minute into the third quarter after a three by Will Parady (15 points) and a layup by Tim Hudson assisted by Will Parady.

A run of eight unanswered later in that quarter elevated the gap to nineteen (50-31) with less than two minutes to go.  Four free throws by Kyle Martin (he made ten of twelve) and fast-break layups by John Sydlowski and Tim Hudson provided the points.

The final separation had been established and Amesbury went on to get their second win of the season.  They have now defeated Ipswich three straight times.

Will Parady (15 points) in plenty of Ipswich traffic

Will Parady (15 points) in plenty of Ipswich traffic

Ben Yanakakis (12 points) connected three times from downtown in the final quarter for the Tigers.

The foul shooting of Amesbury was impressive.  They only hit three of seven in the first quarter but after that they were 32-for-36.  That will win you a lot of games!

What won’t win a lot of games, however, were the plethora of turnovers.  Neither team took good care of the ball.  I had Ipswich for thirty-one turnovers while Amesbury had twenty-seven miscues.  That will lose you a lot of games!

Amesbury was still able to win because they could get close to the basket and score or cash in from the line.

Ipswich lived outside (made ten 3’s) and capitalized on some of the Amesbury turnovers.

The Tigers were 10-10 last season and made the MIAA tourney for the first time since 2008.

Amesbury was 12-7 last year and went out in the first round in the tournament at home to Saugus.  I covered that game.

The Indians graduated all five starters but have the size to cause teams trouble.  They will have to learn to take much better care of the ball to get another 12-win season in my opinion.

Ipswich box from the game

Amesbury box from the game

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

Zach Labrecque (22) goes for the block

Zach Labrecque (22) goes for the block

Chris Levasseur screens for Kilian Morrissey

Chris Levasseur screens for Kilian Morrissey

Amesbury cheerleaders

Amesbury cheerleaders

Cam Leary (11) looks for an inbounds pass

Cam Leary (11) looks for an inbounds pass

Kyle Martin made ten free thows

Kyle Martin made ten free thows

Kyle Martin surrounded by Tigers

Kyle Martin surrounded by Tigers

Ryan Patterson (4) defended by Jason Finkst

Ryan Patterson (4) defended by Jason Finkst

Ben Yanakakis (5) and Jarod Day (2)

Ben Yanakakis (5) and Jarod Day (2)

John Sydlowski drives

John Sydlowski drives


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