(Newburyport MA) The shots were flying and many from beyond the arc.
Newburyport had fifty points in the first half while Weston had forty-nine in the second half.
Eight lead changes. Three in the first quarter and five in the last quarter.
Exciting? Ask anyone who was there!
Weston grabbed the final lead change with two minutes left, thanks to the remarkable 6-10 Sawyer Mayhugh (36 points), and came away, 86-81, winning the D3 North quarter finals match on Saturday afternoon.
Senior Parker McLaren (34 points) played his last game for the Clippers and it was a beauty.
6-4 Parker had every aspect of his shooting talents working. The long-range game was on target all night. He made seven from out there.
Twice in the final quarter Parker scored from in close to restore the Clippers to the lead.
With thirty-six seconds left his seventh triple, with thirty-six seconds left, brought the Clippers to within two (82-80).
The game-deciding possession followed. There was an urgency on the Clippers’ part to protect the inside and keep Sawyer Mayhugh from scoring. The inside was definitely protected but the perimeter wasn’t.
Wide open on the left side, in front of the Weston partisans, was junior Will Van Houten (24 points). Will had time (and courage) to take and make the open three with fifteen seconds left. Now down by five (85-80) Newburyport lacked the time and accuracy to recover.
Weston now moves on to face Amesbury in the D3 North semi-finals at Whittier on Wednesday night.
It looked to me as if most of the Amesbury team was in the crowd scouting their next opponent.
The Clippers (16-6) were on fire in the first half. They drained ten three’s and Parker put up eighteen points.
Newburyport was happy on the perimeter and their shots were falling from there.
Weston’s attack featured outside shooters and Sawyer Mayhugh on the inside.
The Wildcats (12-10) were within two points (32-30) at 4:46 of the second period after two Sawyer free throws.
The next two minutes were all Newburyport. The Clippers put a twelve-point, unanswered segment together and came out with a 44-30 lead.
Parker had a three and a jump shot in this section. Jake Robertson (16 points) had four free throws. Two of Jake freebies came at the expense of a technical on Weston coach Dave First.
“I said to the ref with a couple of minutes left,” explained Coach First post-game, “that I think that the points on the technical are going to cost me, and he started laughing.”
The Clippers lead reached sixteen (50-34) later in the period.
Weston trailed 50-37 at halftime.
“It was so sad in the first half,” said Sawyer Mayhugh afterwards. “We couldn’t find our offense and we were giving up too many three’s.”
The Wildcats were able to shrink the Clippers lead in the third period. Three’s by Isaiah Kacyvenski and Christos Iatridis (16 points) had Weston within one (60-59).
“Honestly,” said Alton Jenkins post-game, “we don’t give up. That’s what Weston is all about. We’re going to give intensity from start to finish. That 13-point halftime lead didn’t matter to us. We were going to put in our work regardless.”
The Clippers recovered after Weston was within one, thanks to a three by Ronan Brown and Ryan Archie layup, assisted by Jack Fehlner. Newburyport was ahead by four (67-63) after three quarters.
A three by senior Ryan Archie (assist Trevor Ward) had Newburyport up by eight (73-65) with 5:55 left in the game.
Now it was Weston’s turn to put a run together.
Key play alert! The decisive comeback run started with Sawyer Mayhugh launching a three. Knowing what he can do around the basket, you’d think defensively that he was doing you a favor shooting from beyond the arc.
Sawyer took the shot and it missed but he raced in from the wing, got the rebound, and made a layup. That’s what hustle is all about!
That basket started Weston on an 8-point run. Will Van Houten’s three was the shot that gave Weston it’s first lead (74-73) since the first quarter.
Parker hit a floater in the lane. Sawyer put in a layup.
Parker went at Sawyer for a layup. Sawyer answered with a dunk.
Four straight free throws (Sawyer two, Christos Iatridis two) boosted the Weston edge to five (82-77) with forty-eight seconds left. Parker responded with a three.
Will Van Houten’s win-securing three followed and Weston now moves on to the D3 North semi-finals.
Those who have seen the Clippers play, probably had the same flashback I had when Will sank that crucial shot from the left wing. A year ago, Dracut’s Adrian Torres gave the Middies a tourney win over Newburyport from the same spot.
“Will sealed the deal with that shot,” said Sawyer Mayhugh. “It gave us the extra push to get another stop and finish the game.”
“It was a real team effort,” according to Will Van Houten. “We were in a similar situation last year in the tournament. We don’t give up. That’s what we’re made of.”
Coach First: “Newburyport is a terrific team. They are well coached and well disciplined. I can’t believe we came back from thirteen down against them. It was fun to watch Sawyer against Parker.”
Sawyer Maghugh: “Newburyport has great shooters. It was definitely a challenge to stop them, but we did it.”
Packed house with some spectators having to stand. Plenty of school officials around to make sure the crowd behaved.
Jack Fehlner (17 points) and Jake Robertson each had thirteen points in the first half.
The Clippers missed the front end of three one-and-one’s in the last five minutes of the game. The Wildcats were 14/24 from the line.
Weston is in the Dual County League. Newburyport is in the Cape Ann League.
Newburyport made more 3-point shots (17) than they did 2-point shots (10).
In the previous tournament game against Shasheen, Sawyer had nineteen points, sixteen rebounds, and five blocks. Will the 6-10 sophomore have committed to a D1 school two years from now? Wouldn’t surprise this reporter.
Parker certainly showed that he can shine in the bright lights of a big game. He won’t be covering any 6-10 post players at the next level. I wonder what college he’ll end up at?
You stay close to the action you risk having the action come to you. Sure enough, in the 4th quarter Christos Iatridis drives hard to the basket, gets fouled to the ground and slides into me. No damage to either of us, fortunately.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)