Tag Archives: Coach Jeff Newhall

St. Mary’s gains D3 title with 46-44 win over Rockland

Coach Jeff Newhall with captains Abby Constine and Liv Abbott
Yirsy Queliz (17 points) hits the game winner with 24 seconds left

(Lowell) There were seven lead changes.

The score was tied in all four quarters.

Rockland had two possessions after the final tie (44-44 with 1:28 left).

But it was St. Mary’s making the outcome-deciders thereafter to slip away with a 46-44 win in the Division 3 girls title game on Friday night at the Tsongas Arena.

Yirsy Queliz (17 points) gave the Spartans the lead with a jump shot over two defenders with twenty-four seconds left.

Then it was Kellyn Preira blocking the tying basket as time ran out for the Lady Dogs.

Kellyn Preira blocks Julia Elie’s final shot
Maggie Elie and Yirsy Queliz

“What a heckuva game,” said Rockland coach Diane Mitchell afterwards.  “It was an absolute battle.  We didn’t come away with the win but no way was it from lack of effort.”

“Give Rockland credit,” said St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall post-game.  “They were excellent.  Emotionally, we were a little bit spent from the other night (against Bishop Fenwick).  We had just enough, and Kellyn made a huge play at the end.”

In each of the first three quarters, high-scoring St. Mary’s looked ready to gain significant separation from Rockland (21-4).  But persistent half-court defense and consistent rebounding by the Lady Dogs wouldn’t allow it.

Ball on the floor

“To hold that team to forty-six points was doing our job defensively,” said Coach Mitchell.

Down 15-8, Rockland rallied around baskets by Sydney Blaney, Maggie Elie (11 points), and Julia Elie to begin the second quarter even (15-15).

Behind 26-19 at the half, Maddy Hermenau and the two Elie sisters, generated points to even the score at 28-28.

After a drive and a free throw from Kellyn Preira (16 points) was followed by a three from Niya Morgen, Rockland trailed by six points but once again rallied into a tie (34-34) to start the 4th quarter.

Yirsy Queliz sees lane to hoop

Then the lead changes started, and the excitement built.  Both teams and their active student sections had plenty of highs and lows the rest of the way.

No one play ever wins or loses a team game.

“She could have made the two free throws and we wouldn’t have had the problem at the end with my heart rate,” said Coach Newhall.

Julia Elie and Kellyn Preira

“We missed free throws and had turnovers before the final play,” added Coach Mitchell.

Coach Newhall: “Yirsy (Queliz) is a scholarship guard.  I am grateful to have her for another year.  She lives for basketball.  She was our steadying presence all night on offense while everyone else was pretty much helter-skelter. She makes that (final) shot more often than not.”

Coach Mitchell: “Maggie (Elie) reached a new level in the tournament.  She turned the page and realized that beyond bringing the ball up she could be a facilitator.  She could take over.  She could get to the hoop.  She could get points and still get assists.”

Great setting at Tsongas.  Great views and well managed.  I was impressed with the lighting.

St. Mary’s   15     11    8   12   =   46

Rockland     13      6   14   11   =   44

(The pictures will enlarge.)

St. Mary’s celebrates
Rockland double-team
Yirsy Queliz to the basket
Charlie Kelleher and Niya Morgen
Kellyn Preira block in the first half
Kellyn Preira sets to block on the final play
St. Mary’s lines up post-game
St. Mary’s behind the banner
Rockland box
St. Mary’s box

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Niya Morgen and Yirsy Queliz guide St. Mary’s past Pentucket 59-37

(The pictures below will enlarge if you click on them.)

Niya Morgen (27 points) in for a layup
Yirsy Queliz (18 points)

(West Newbury MA) St. Mary’s got better as the game went along defeating Pentucket, 59-37, on Friday night.

The Spartans junior guards (Yirsy Queliz and Niya Morgen) were a game-long problem for Pentucket in their season opener.

“They might have the best backcourt in the state,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

Niya had seven three’s in twenty-seven points while Yirsy added eighteen points.

Action in front of the Pentucket student section

The points were one thing, but the defense and court-sense of both players was noticeable.

“Our guard play eventually took the game over,” explained Spartans coach Jeff Newhall post-game.

“They’re good friends,” added Coach Newhall.  “They play AAU together.  They are used to playing together.  There is no weakness in their games.”

The Pentucket student section was in place as was an ever-playing band.  There was a playoff-game atmosphere.

Gabby Bellacqua (11 points)

The Sachems started well, and even had a 6-2 lead, as St. Mary’s tried to settle in. 

But as time went on, it became apparent that Pentucket was going to have trouble scoring and that St. Mary’s wouldn’t. 

Yirsy Queliz created a turnover with seconds left in the first quarter and cashed it in to give the visitors their first lead, 9-7. They would build on that lead the rest of the game.

Audrey Conover defends Niya Morgen

Niya Morgen carried St. Mary’s in the second and third quarters.  The Swampscott transfer drained six three’s in those quarters.

One of Niya’s three-pointers was a step-back three.

“Niya made some big shots to keep us alive,” said Coach Newhall.

The Spartans extended a 24-18 halftime lead to 41-28 after three quarters.

The Pentucket problem wasn’t a lack of shots.  The issue was making some shots. 

Yirsy Queliz and Coach Newhall

“We had some good looks,” said Coach McNamara, “but against a good team you have to make shots.  The defense can only hold on for so long.”

Abby Dube paced Pentucket with fifteen points.  Gabby Bellacqua added eleven points mostly on free throws.

This game was an endowment game so it will have no effect on tournament standings.

“We haven’t played Pentucket in ten years,” said Coach Newhall.  “The last time was in 2011 when we beat them in the Division 3 North semi-finals and went on to win our first state championship. Before that, we used to play them all the time.”

Alyssa Thompson and Bella Owumi

“John (McNamara) and I planned to have this game last year but couldn’t,” said Coach Newhall.  “Any time we can play a quality opponent on the road that can challenge us we’re willing to do it.  Some teams aren’t willing to host us.”

“We had nothing to lose in scheduling them,” said Coach McNamara, “since it’s an endowment game.  We knew that they were loaded.  It was a learning experience for us.  We start our season next week against Georgetown.”

Yirsy Queliz and Brooke Moloney

It was easy to be impressed with Yirsy Queliz.  Coach Newhall summed her up this way: “Yirsy has been a starter since she was in eighth grade.  She does everything.  She may not score a ton but she’s a tremendous ballhandler.  She’s probably the best on-the-ball defender in the area.”

Yirsy’s teammate, Niya, is equally good at handling the ball and tonight showed the ability to hit outside shots and get to the basket.

Olivia Abbott and Lana Mickelson

“St. Mary’s is probably one of the top five teams in the state,” said Coach McNamara.  “They have four kids who can create their own offense.  There are probably three scholarship kids on that team.”

Coach Newhall was happy with the win and especially liked his team’s play at the end.  “I was impressed with our fourth quarter defensively and using the clock for good possessions,” he said.  “We had Yirsy with the ball, the court spread, and ran good sets.”

Yirsy said afterwards that “Pentucket was a tough team.”  Niya added that the “team had to chill out without fouling.”

Yirsy Queliz sets a pick for Niya Morgen

Both girls agreed that because they have played together so much, “they’ve built chemistry.”

Yirsy and Niya ran a perfect pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter.

This is the last season in the current Pentucket gymnasium.  Coach McNamara said afterwards that he was going to miss the place.

“One of my best memories of this place was beating a very good Masco team here my first year of coaching,” said Coach McNamara.  “They had been to the Tsongas the year before and had everyone back.  We were the new kids on the block.”

Kaylie Dalgar and Audrey Conover

Bob Romeo (former Masco coach and now North Reading coach) was in the house tonight.  I also saw Coach Dollas and some of his Amesbury players in attendance.

Graduated outside shooter Arielle Cleveland was also spotted afterwards.  Pentucket could have used her shooting tonight.

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

Pentucket box
St. Mary’s box
Bella Owumi guarded by Bethany Cloutier
Yirsy Queliz gets deliberate late in the game
Yirsy Queliz makes a steal
Gabby Bellacqua pressures Yirsy Queliz
AJ Hyacinthe
Audrey Conover
Emma Lopata

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