(Newburyport MA) The Newburyport Clippers were good defensively all night.
The offense took a while to kick in.
But when it did, the visiting Ipswich Tigers were in trouble and fell to the Clippers, 39-24, on Tuesday night at NHS in the Cape Ann League opener for both teams.
Senior Abigail Gillingham (17 points) collected nine points in Newburyport’s game-turning, 16-point unanswered streak in the second half.
Jennie Tarr’s shot-clock buzzer beater had the Tigers within one, 21-20, with 1 ½ minutes left in the third quarter.
Ipswich coach Chris Tolios was pleased with the rally: “The girls played hard. We went into the final quarter only down three points against one of the best teams in the Cape Ann League.”
And the Tiger’s top returning scorer (Riley Daly) hadn’t scored a point yet!
“We had missed a ton of shots,” explained Newburyport coach Karen Grutchfield post-game. “I don’t think that our shot selection was great. We didn’t take what they gave us.”
None of that had to do with the 4th quarter, however.
The Clippers began to make shots and make it look easy.
“When things got ugly, we did recover,” admitted Coach Grutchfield.
The Clippers made shots inside and outside and Ipswich couldn’t match them down the other end.
Key basket (Abigail Gillingham) in the sixteen-point streak was scored after three straight, offensive putbacks.
Sydney Turner’s layup from Makenna Ward ended the NHS run five minutes into the 4th period with the score now, 37-20.
The Clippers defense was tough throughout.
“Our team strength is our lockdown defense,” explained Abigail. Newburyport has length and allowed few open shots from anywhere.
It seemed as if almost every Ipswich possession in the first half had Coach Chris Tolios counting down the final seconds so that the Tigers would get off a shot before the thirty-second clock went off.
Ipswich was quicker on offense in the second half and that was how they rallied to make things interesting in the third quarter.
“Newburyport made plays at the end that we couldn’t make,” added Coach Tolios.
Coach Grutchfield was pleased with the win but added, “offensively we’ve got a lot of work to do against zone defenses.”
It wasn’t hard to miss the novelty of the situation. The doors were locked. There were no spectators. Everyone had a mask on. There were some rule adjustments especially on free throws.
The game was extremely quick. I think it lasted just an hour. I think that half-time was five minutes long and the teams didn’t leave the court.
There was a bigger picture.
Coach Tolios: “At the end of the day we were playing basketball. We’re lucky to be here.”
Abigail Gillingham: “All of us have made the decision that we have to make the most of what we’ve got. We’re grateful that we even get to play. We’ll work through the rules and make something great out of it.”
(The story and pictures will be posted on Mascores and the link to it on Twitter. May post some pictures on Instagram.)
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