(Newburyport MA) Senior Emily Pettigrew (22 points) reached 1000 points but it wasn’t enough as Belmont eliminated Newburyport, 49-47, in the D2 North quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.
This game was foul-infested from the get-go as both teams applied pressure wherever they could and contact was frequent.
Whistles blew and players were helped up. Coaches questioned every call and fans from both sides offered regular evaluations of the three officials. Smooth it wasn’t!
This game came down to the final minute with a win still within reach of either squad. Emily Pettigrew had given the Clippers (17-4) a one-point lead (47-46) with 1:15 left.
That would be the last productive possession for Newburyport. Their final three, point-producing opportunities ended with a block by Jess Giorgio, a turnover, and another block by Jess Giorgio.
In Belmont’s last two possessions they were at the foul line both times. Senior Irini Nikolaidis (11 points) completed a 5-for-5 quarter sinking two attempts and freshman Megan Tan made one of her two tries.
Making those three free throws gave Belmont the points they needed to earn the right to face the winner of the Arlington Catholic/Melrose game on Tuesday in the D2 North semi-finals.
The Marauders reached the D2 North semi-finals last season but lost to Watertown.
Anyone in attendance who is reading so far is surely wondering what has taken me so long to get to the real reason Newburyport is not still alive in the tournament: free throw shooting.
When one team misses fourteen free throws you can easily imagine that they would be in trouble. Not in this game. Those fourteen misses belonged to Belmont (18-for-32) and they won by two points.
Newburyport? Good news? They made 8-of-9 in the final quarter. Bad news? 10-for-32 in the other three quarters. Worse news? 5-for-19 in the second quarter.
The total missed free throws by the Clippers was twenty-three and think of the “Could have been’s” they’ll think about for a while over that.
I know I’m beating this free throw thing to death but in the last 1 ½ minutes of the 2nd quarter Newburyport missed seven straight foul shots. That they only trailed by three (21-18) at the half is indicative of the type of defense they were playing.
Belmont (from the Middlesex League) rode two three’s by sophomore Jenny Call to an 8-1 lead. NBPT finished the quarter on a 6-1 run including a steal and layin by freshman Katie Hadden.
The Clippers tied the score (16-16) on a driving layup by freshman Anna Hickman (14 points) with 3 ½ to go in the second period.
The Marauders took the lead right back and extended it to 32-23 in the third quarter with a 10-2 run. Layups by Greta Propp (10 points) and Samari Winklaar, as well as a three by Carly Christofori (9 points), keyed that surge.
In the midst of it Emily Pettigrew took a pass in the lower key and spun left to register her 1000th point.
Appearing to be down and out (32-23) with 3:40 to go in the third quarter, the Clippers put twelve unanswered points together over the next six minutes of playing time to take the lead, 35-32, 2+ minutes into the final quarter. During that stretch, Belmont turned ice cold from everywhere, including the foul line, where they missed all five FT attempts.
Anna Hickman had a 3-pointer and a layup, while Emily Pettigrew added two layups in the rush to the lead.
In the final five minutes of this game there were four ties and five lead changes. It was clearly anyone’s game.
But in the final minute, Belmont made enough free throws and enough stops on defense to get the job done.
Defensive hero in the last minute? Freshman Jess Giorgio. Twice the 6-1 center blocked shot attempts in close by Anna Hickman without fouling.
Belmont had to shoot second-half free throws in the NBPT student second end of the gymnasium. Not an easy thing to do but somehow Irini Nikolaidis managed to can four straight in the last two minutes.
Awesome rendition of the National Anthem by the Clippers’ Paige Gouldthorpe.
Impressed by the point-guard play of Newburyport’s Krysta Padellaro and Belmont’s Carly Christofori. The two of them also played terrific defense. Both are only sophomores.
Tough 24 hours for the Newburyport basketball teams as both the boys’ and the girls’ teams were eliminated from tournament play during that time.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)