Tag Archives: Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor (24 points) drives Amesbury past Lynnfield 65-50

Flannery O’Connor (24 points) surrounded by Pioneers

Alli Napoli double-teamed

(Haverhill MA) There had been six lead changes and seven ties.

Then senior Flannery O’Connor took over in the third quarter.

The Cape Ann League All-Star engineered a run of nine unanswered points and a slim one-point lead (36-35) moved to a breathing-room 45-35 score.

The second-half surge of points was too much for foul-prone Lynnfield to overcome and they fell to (18-4) Amesbury 65-50 on Wednesday night at Whittier.

“We hung around for three quarters,” said Lynnfield coach Peter Bocchino afterwards.  “We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”

The Pioneers (14-9) did get within eight (51-43) with 5 ½ minutes to go in the game.

Ciara Sullivan

But then junior Alli Napoli set up teammate Ciara Sullivan for consecutive three’s and Amesbury’s double-digit spread was restored for good.

Tori Morelli and Cate MacDonald

Continuous fouling by both teams ruined any chance for patterned offense to be on display.  There were plenty of one-on-one’s which turned up fouls or layups.

Alli Napoli (Amesbury) and Tori Morelli (Lynnfield) were both in early foul trouble and on their respective benches for much of the first half.

The missing twosome were usually steadying influences on their teams and without them, the play was often ragged in the first half.

“I liked the way that the girls stayed composed with Alli out most of the first half,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos.

Amesbury had a six-point lead (23-17) with two minutes left in the half but a three by freshman Riley Hallahan and a layup by Grace Klonsky and Lynnfield was back tight, 23-22, at the half.

Amesbury was 19-for-27 from the foul line

The Pioneers had a four-point lead (29-25) three minutes into the second half but two free throws by Alli Napoli and a layup by Flannery O’Connor, that Alli assisted on, and the teams were tied.

Three free throws by Melissa Morelli (14 points) had Lynnfield within one (36-35) with only three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

This was when Flannery took over and led AHS to separation.  Part of the nine-point run was a triple (McKenna Hallinin) set up by Flannery.

Lynnfield played a zone defense and Amesbury struggled to get open looks.

“They were playing a zone,” said Flannery afterwards.  “Moving the ball makes that defense work.  I try to find cracks and dive into them.”

Faced with tight coverage whenever she touched the ball, Flannery was quick to find open teammates.

McKenna Hallinan looks to the hoop

The Hallinan twins (Avery and McKenna) brought energy, points, and defense.  The two freshmen helped carry the scoring load for the Indians in the first half.

Avery ended the game with twelve points while McKenna totaled nine.

Freshman Cate MacDonald tallied twelve points for LHS.  “Our freshman (Cate) came to play tonight,” said Coach Bocchino.  “She got a learning experience.”

I was impressed with the ball-handling of sophomore Grace Klonsky.  Several times she took the ball the full length of the court for a score.

Amesbury will now face St. Mary’s (Lynn) at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday.  The Spartans had a decisive win over Amesbury during the regular season.

Lynnfield had two easy tourney wins before facing Amesbury in the D3 North semifinals.  The Pioneers downed Charlestown 53-9 and Greater Lawrence 69-43.

Peter Bocchino was the CAL coach-of-the-year.

Mary Bullis and Riley Hallahan

Lynnfield had been 5-52 over the previous three seasons.

The Pioneers tourney win over Charlestown was their first since 2009.

Despite missing most of the first half, Alli Napoli finished with eleven points.

The Pioneers missed thirteen free throws.

Amesbury box

Lynnfield box

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

McKenna Hallinan

Alli Napoli

Alli Napoli moves into an open space

Caroline Waisnor sets to receive a pass

Flannery O’Connor in traffic

Grace Klonsky

Grace Klonsky and McKenna Hallinan

Melissa Morelli and Avery Hallinan




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Pentucket holds off Amesbury 50-48

Angelica Hurley (12 points) looks for an opening

Flannery O’Connor (16 points) guarded by Arielle Cleveland (11 points)

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury was ahead 20-7 after 5 ½ minutes.

Pentucket was ahead 26-24 seven minutes later.

“It was back-and-forth a lot,” said Angelica Hurley afterwards.

That back-and-forth thing took time to materialize in the early going but in the final 2+ quarters it happened often.  Seven ties.  Eight lead changes.

In the end, it was Pentucket (14-1) making the big shots, at the line and from the floor, and turning defense into offense, that carried them to a tough 50-48 win on Tuesday night over Amesbury (12-2).

Pentucket coach John McNamara

Pentucket has the best record in Massachusetts in Division 2.

“I’m proud of our girls,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos after. “We hung in there.  Pentucket is a good team.”

The Sachems took the lead for good (47-45) on a Liv Cross layin with 2:25 left.

Angelina Yacubacci (16 points) had a steal and made two resulting free throws a minute later to stretch the Sachems advantage to 50-46.

Freshman McKenna Hallinan (7 points) answered with a layup to close the gap to two with 1:04 left, but the Indians (12-2) couldn’t complete the comeback in their two possessions thereafter.


“It was a great high school girls’ game,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “We knew they were good coming in.  They have maybe two of the best players in the Cape Ann League.  Amesbury will be a tough out in Division 3.”

The Indians got off to a tremendous start.  Shots were falling and uncontested layups were showing up.

Senior Flannery O’Connor (16 points) dominated the 20-7 getaway with twelve points.  She had four layups, a free throw, and even a three.

“They were clearing out for her,” recalled Coach McNamara.  “We had to adjust.  We did everything we could in the second half to keep her from getting good looks inside.”

Flannery O’Connor guarded by Megan Reading

The adjustment worked because Flannery saw multiple defenders in the second half and ended up with just one free throw.

The other noticeable defensive effort was Maddie Doyle covering Alli Napoli.  Significant size difference but Maddie kept the athletic Alli from direct routes to the basket.  Alli had one full-court layup in the 2nd half.

How did Amesbury stay with Pentucket in the second half if Flannery and Alli weren’t putting up points? Solid man-to-man defense and terrific rebounding.

The Sachems had only one rebound basket the whole game – Arielle Cleveland at the very end of the first half.

“We wanted to stop fast breaks and second-chance points,” explained Coach Dollos.

The Indians led 24-17 at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter.  The next three minutes?  All Pentucket.  While the Indians were defended into five turnovers, the Sachems put nine unanswered points together to take their first lead, 26-24.

Liv Cross (9 points) lines up a free throw

Maddie Doyle and Angelina Yacubacci finished the nine-point comeback with 3’s.

I thought at the time that this might be the beginning of a long evening for the Indians, but I was wrong.  Amesbury began to answer with points and “back-and-forth” was what we witnessed the exciting rest of the way.

Pentucket made 3-of-4 free throws in the end game.  “Free throws are always important,” said senior Liv Cross.  “Every coach I’ve ever had always says that these kinds of games come down to free throws.”

Ciara Sullivan gave Amesbury a quick 43-38 lead with five straight points to start the final quarter.  Back came Pentucket, however, with two Angelica Hurley layups and two Liv Cross free throws.  It was all part of that back-and-forth thing.

Amesbury had twenty-three turnovers and Pentucket nineteen.  The 3-minute collection of five of them in the second period may well have cost Amesbury the game.  Credit the Pentucket defense.

Coach McNamara: “The way we started we could have given up, so I give credit to our girls for recovering.”

Ciara Sullivan lines up a three

On Maddie Doyle guarding Alli Napoli: “She gave away about two feet but she’s scrappy and tough.”

On Angelina Yacubacci’s steal late in the game: “She’s a very smart defensive player.  She reads passes and lanes very well.  Her steal was huge.”

Coach Dollos: “Foul trouble hurt us.  I’m happy with what we did.  Losing isn’t fun but I’ll say we played pretty well.”

Things to work on: “We needed to move the ball better to get it inside.  We also could have used better shot selection at times.”

The best assessment of the game belonged to Coach Dollos, “It easily could have gone either way.”

Angelica Hurley had twelve points for Pentucket and teammate Arielle Cleveland added eleven. Alli Napoli collected ten points for Amesbury.

The victory extends the Pentucket winning streak to eleven.  Only loss was to Westford Academy.

The Amesbury defeat stops their win streak at eleven.  They had an early-season loss to North Reading that I covered.

Liv Cross on next year: “I got into Northeastern the other night.  It’s my top school but expensive.  Nursing is what interests me.  I might go to UMass Lowell because I got into their nursing program.”

The intensity of the two coaches spread into the stands.  It seemed as if every whistle was challenged by the side whistled against.

Amesbury box

Pentucket box

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

Plenty of contact

Mary Bullis defends


Angelica Hurley eyes the hoop guarded by Flannery O’Connor

Arielle Cleveland (11 points) looks to pass



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North Reading holds off Amesbury 43-41

Last shot of the game

Lauren Sullivan (11 points) made two 3’s

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury rallied from thirteen down in the final quarter and had a shot to tie it at the buzzer.

But the shot missed, and North Reading escaped with a 43-41 win in Cape Ann League action on Tuesday night.

The ups and downs in this game were significant.

If you came early, the Indians were unstoppable and off to an 8-0 lead in the first 1 ½ minutes.

If you saw just the middle section it was all Hornets.  They drained three’s (8 of them) and took very good care of the ball.

If you looked in after NR sported a nice cushion (42-29) at the 6:41 mark of the final quarter, you saw Amesbury put pressure defense and thirteen straight points together and nearly catch the Hornets.

Flannery O’Connor (12 points) finds an opening

This certainly was a game where the good things and the things needing work were obvious for both squads.

“We needed to play that defense the whole game,” said AHS coach Gregg Dollas afterwards.

The visitors ran an excellent offense against single coverage.  They passed, they drove, they got to the basket, and drew fouls.  When the taller Amesbury defenders started to double-team in the final quarter, NR struggled and turned the ball over six times in four minutes and set up the Indians late-game run.

The Indians (1-1) got off to the electric start because scoring threat Flannery O’Connor was able to get the ball in close against light coverage.  That quickly changed and most of the rest of the game Flannery had at least two defenders and sometimes a third one nearby.

Ali Grasso (16 points) finds teammate Lauren Sullivan (4) closer to the basket

“Once we start hitting our shots, we’ll be tough to beat,” added Coach Dollas.  With Flannery so closely covered there were shots for teammates that didn’t fall this time.

North Reading (2-0) was good from long range.  The Hornets struck eight times from far out with Ali Grasso and Casey McAuliffe getting three each.

Ali paced NR with sixteen points while Casey added twelve.  Lauren Sullivan contributed eleven points.

Amesbury had twelve from Flannery and eleven from newcomer Avery Hallinan.

After the home team grabbed the quick 8-0 lead, North Reading followed with a 15-1 stretch that had them ahead, 15-9, early in the second period.

Later the Hornets put eight straight together in the third quarter when Lauren Sullivan’s full-court layup was followed by three’s from Ali Grasso and Lauren.

Mary Bullis over Kiley McCarthy (1)

But no sooner did that happen in the third quarter than Amesbury puts its own run of points together.  Mary Bullis hit a three from Alli Napoli and Flannery O’Connor drove the length of the court.  Mary Bullis finished the run by converting her own missed shot.

Typical of this game, however, NR came back with its own version of good offense and was sitting pretty (42-29) with 6:41 remaining.

It is hard to believe that the Hornets had only one point (Ali Grasso free throw) the rest of the way.

Ciara Sullivan hit a couple of jump shots and Avery Hallinan made six free throws to key Amesbury’s late-game rush.

The Indians were within a point (42-41) but came up empty in the final minute.  Ali Napoli got a shot off to the right of the lane in heavy coverage that missed to end the game.

Free throw shooting was a struggle for both teams.

The free throw shooting was not good in this one.  North Reading missed ten (11-for-21) and Amesbury eight (12-for-20).  The Indians had six misses within their thirteen-point rally in the final quarter.

Enthusiastic crowd on hand.

Alli Napoli took a heavy fall late in the game driving to the basket.  Somehow, she managed to play on.

North Reading box

Amesbury box

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

Ali Grasso dribbles into space

Amesbury defense collapses on Mia DeNofrio (23)

Avery Hallinan (11) tries to pass to Flannery O’Connor (12)

Flannery O’Connor with three Hornets

Floor tussle

Mia DeNofrio shoots a free throw


Sadie Kermelewicz (4) stays with Ali Grasso (3)

Hustling Alli Napoli (21) caught Julie Howse (33) and blocked her shot

Lauren Sullivan (4) in for a layup







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Bedford executes late and defeats Amesbury 61-58 in D3N quarterfinals

Lauren Legere (13 points) goes baseline for Bedford

Mel Proulx looks to pass

(Amesbury MA) “That game could have gone either way,” said Bedford coach Jason Talanien afterwards.

When Flannery O’Connor’s 3-point attempt missed in the closing seconds, the Bedford Buccaneers had an, 61-58, Division 3 North quarterfinals win over Amesbury on Thursday night.

“It was back-and-forth all night,” said AHS coach Matt Willis.  “Great effort by both teams.”

The Bucs (13-9) trailed by three (57-54) with three minutes left.  “We’ve had many close games,” explained Coach Talanien, “and we have worked a lot on last-minute execution.”

One thing that the team from the Dual County League did well was take the ball to the basket.  The Indians (13-8) used a 3-2 zone to protect the perimeter but this gave the Bedford drivers openings and they weren’t shy about taking advantage.  Fifteen Bedford baskets were in the layup area.

Ali Napoli (26 points) in from the left

The Bucs defeated Whittier in the first round with eleven 3-pointers, hence the Amesbury’s 3-2 zone.  Bedford had only three long ones versus Amesbury but one of them, by Jenn Rennich, came in the final three minutes.

The Bucs were also good at the free-throw line hitting 17-for-23.  None bigger than two straight by Annie Cowen with fifteen seconds left.

Joelle DeLia’s layup (1:53) brought Bedford within one, 57-56.  Next possession Jenn Rennich drilled a three from in front of the Bedford bench to give the Bucs the lead, 59-57, with 1:25 to go.

Ali Napoli went to the line with thirty-three seconds left with a chance to tie the game but made only the second shot.

The Bucs guarded that slim one-point lead (59-58) until Annie Cowen was fouled with fifteen seconds remaining.  With the Amesbury student section yelling in her left ear, Annie made both shots.

The Indians needed a made three to tie but on this frantic evening it didn’t happen.

Flannery O’Connor secures a rebound

Both teams extended pressure full-court the whole game and every rebounder was liable to get double-teamed.

“Our defense was better in the second half,” said Coach Talanien. “Trying for steals got us into foul trouble in the first half.”

Ali Napoli (26 points) had another remarkable performance.  Because of the Indians youth and inexperience, Ali was expected to be the primary ball-handler, top rebounder, and leading scorer. The upgrade in my eyes of her game in this game was her ability to get the ball to open teammates.  I had her for seven assists.

Bedford had four players in double figures; Joelle Delia (18), Annie Cowen (15), Lauren Legere (13), and Cate Marcus (10).

Joelle DeLia (18 points) defended by Ali Napoli

Joelle had four successful driving layups in her 10-point final quarter.

Flannery O’Connor tallied fifteen for Amesbury.

Bedford was 5-15 last season.

Amesbury made 8-of-17 free throws.

There were ten lead changes including five in the final quarter.

The Buccaneers had a seven-point lead in the first quarter (11-4) before Ali Napoli and Catherine LaForte (three with 4 seconds left) drove AHS ahead 17-16 to end that quarter.

“This was a great experience for our young team,” explained Coach Willis.  “Every girl is coming back next season.”

Amesbury box

Bedford box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably.)

Annie Cowen hit clutch free throws in the closing seconds

Cate Marcus trapped in a corner by Ashley Porcaro and Ciara Sullivan

Ciara Sullivan and Joelle DeLia

Ali Napoli gets in for two

Flannery O’Connor tries to get past Cate Marcus

Joelle DeLia (11) runs into Mary Bullis

Annie Cowen (15 points) eyes the hoop

Lauren Legere finishes

Mary Bullis gets a rebound

Lauren Legere hit two 3’s

Jenn Rennich (hit a big three late in the game)





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Alli Napoli (30 points) carries Amesbury past Georgetown 50-41

Alli Napoli (30 points) chased by Lyla Krol

Alli was Amesbury’s point guard

(Amesbury MA) Way too much Alli for Georgetown.

“She’s probably the best I’ve seen in the league this year,” said G’Town coach Hilary Glynn afterwards.

“There’s nothing she can’t do.”

Sophomore Alli Napoli had the whole basketball package working as she led Amesbury to a 50-41 win over the Royals on Thursday night in Cape Ann League play.

Alli had thirty points but it was the things beyond the points that led the Indians to their tournament-qualifying 10th win.

The “other things” that I noticed were; rebounds, blocked shots, assists, steals, and bringing the ball up the court.

Nicole Donnelly reaches in on Alli Napoli

“Sometimes I forget that she’s only a sophomore,” said AHS coach Matt Willis.  “We’ve had a captain who didn’t come out and a captain (Flannery O’Connor) who is out but Alli has stepped up.”

The two teams faced each other less than a week ago. Amesbury survived, 51-47, in that one.  “In both games, we’ve had big leads, but they came back,” said Coach Willis.  “They don’t quit.”

That lack of quit showed itself in the fourth quarter.  The Indians (10-4) had a comfortable, 46-29, lead one minute into the final quarter.  Good time to pack it in if you’re Georgetown, but they didn’t.

Amesbury went very cold (credit the G’Town defense) and turned the ball over nine times during the next 6+ minutes.  The visitors put a run of twelve unanswered points together including a layup by Lilly Dionne (assisted by Haylee Zadina) that had the Royals trailing by only five, 46-41, with forty-two seconds left.

Haylee Zadina (2) gets to the rim

Georgetown (2-12) had another possession with that five-point deficit and missed four shots in that possession, including three 3’s.  Make one of those and final seconds could have been verrrry interesting.

Things turned Amesbury’s way, thereafter.  Amesbury’s Kaicey Zimmer was fouled.  She missed the front end of a one-and-one with forty seconds left BUT there was a lane violation on the Royals.  Given another chance, Kaicey made the free throw but missed the second.  To the surprise of no one, Alli Napoli grabbed the rebound for Amesbury and was fouled.  That’s twice Georgetown could have had the ball but didn’t get it.

Alli made both free throws to push the AHS advantage to eight and the Royals were done for.

“We have a tendency to start slowly,” said Coach Glynn.  “We certainly came alive late in this game.”

Mary Bullis surrounded by Royals

Amesbury has now defeated Georgetown ten straight times.

Alli Napoli had twenty-six points in the first meeting with Georgetown.  “We tried to use a box-and-one on her,” added Coach Glynn.  “I thought that Lyla Krol played excellent defense.”

One play that was very effective for Amesbury was having Alli on one side (drawing multiple defenders) and having her throw a cross-court pass to the other side to an open teammate.  Mary Bullis (8 points) ended up with good 3-point looks out of that set.

Autumn Dionne (11 points) led the G’Town scorers.  Autumn wears a serious knee brace and has torn her ACL twice.  She fell once in the second half and required medical attention but did return later in the game.

The Royals weren’t shy about putting up 3-pointers.  Might have something to do with the fact that Coach Glynn holds the Framingham State career 3-point record.

I saw Amesbury lose a tough game to Hamilton-Wenham when Flannery O’Connor was playing.  In that one, the Indians were impatient on both ends of the court rushing shots and getting out of position on defense.  Not tonight.  The offense was organized and the defense (man-to-man) was stable.

Two hands on the ball

Amesbury ended up with seventeen turnovers, including nine in the final quarter when Georgetown made their run.  Georgetown had fifteen, but only one in the last quarter.

The Indians built up a 15-point lead in the second quarter with ten unanswered points.  Mary Bullis had two 3’s while Alli turned a steal into a basket and also made two free throws.

Nine players scored for the Royals.  Six different players (Maeve McNeill, Brenna Donoghue, Caitlin Donoghue, Grace MacDonald, Autumn Dionne, and Lilly Dionne) were part of Georgetown’s twelve-point streak in the final quarter.

Alli ended up with three 3’s.  She had eleven points in the second quarter and twelve in the third quarter. Her rebound in the final minute sealed this one for the home team.

I bring a camera to games as well as a mopod to stabilize it.  Tonight, one of the referees knew enough about my mopod to use it to loosen a basketball that was stuck against the rim.

Quiet crowd on hand.  I noticed Georgetown JV’s working on homework.

Amesbury box from the game

Georgetown box from the game

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

Nice pass by Autumn Dionne sets up Maeve McNeil for a layup

Late-game pressure by Georgetown

Brenna Donoghue (12) puts up a shot over Catherine LaForte (13)

Lyla Krol (14) in the middle of three Indians

Mary Bullis (8 points)

Autumn (11 points) covered by Ciara Sullivan



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Hamilton-Wenham rallies to defeat Amesbury 38-27

Jemma Shea and Cecily Szady double-team Flannery O’Connor

Alli Napoli (11 points) tries to get past Cecily Szady

(Amesbury MA) It looked like a long night for Hamilton-Wenham after 3 ½ minutes had been played.

The Generals trailed 11-5 and looked overmatched against AHS shooters Alli Napoli and Flannery O’Connor.

However, once the HW defense got up to speed the Indians were the ones in trouble as they fell, 38-27, on Friday night in Cape Ann League action.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” said HW coach Jon Flanagan afterwards.

On this night that defense featured Jemma Shea (on Alli Napoli) and Cecily Szady (on Flannery O’Connor).  “The girls did a great job of focusing in on their better scorers,” said Coach Flanagan.

Jemma and Cecily played tight man-to-man defense while their teammates sagged into the lane to give them help.  The best thing that defense did was to keep Alli and Flannery on the perimeter.  Tonight the AHS shots weren’t falling from the outside.

Lauren Flynn (16 points) leads a HW break

Lauren Flynn led all scorers with sixteen points.  Lauren had two quick baskets in the 2nd quarter; one on a setup by Jemma Shea and another on a well-executed inbounds play.  That brought HW to within two (12-10).  Then it was Lauren again in the last second of the period, setup this time for a layup by Jacqueline Fibbe.  The halftime score was a very low 14-14.

The Indians (7-3) took the lead in the 3rd period on an Alli Napoli layup and a three by freshman Mary Bullis from the corner.

Mary Bullis (15) blocks Lauren Flynn’s shot

Amesbury, however, didn’t score again for four minutes while the visitors gained separation with eight unanswered points.  Senior Lauren Flynn was the key contributor with four free throws and a driving layup.  Teammates Cecily Szady and Maddy Rivers added free throws.  That run of points gave HW a 24-19 advantage with two minutes left in the third quarter.

AHS would get within three twice during the next 3+ minutes but they could not string points together the rest of the way.

The Generals gained final separation with six straight points; four of them were from Lauren Flynn and the other two on a drive by Jemma Shea.  This stretch of good offense pushed HW ahead, 32-23, with 2:44 left and AHS couldn’t recover.

“We moved the ball well and got good looks from different people,” said Coach Flanagan.  “When the opportunity arose, we took the shots that we needed to take.”

“We had a lot of assisted baskets,” added Coach Flanagan. “When we can fill the scorebook with a whole bunch of scorers, that is what we like to see.”  Seven of HW’s nine players had points.

Alli Napoli led the AHS scorers with eleven points before fouling out in the last minute.  A turning point in this game was when with 4:24 left, Alli picked up her 4th foul.

Kaylie Cloutier (25) covers Jemma Shea (3)

Amesbury had only ten turnovers in the game while Hamilton-Wenham had eleven miscues.

Coach Matt Willis put getting the ball out of the backcourt entirely into the hands of Alli Napoli and Flannery O’Connor.  Getting the ball inbounds was the hardest part because HW had defenders on either side of the girl getting the inbounds pass.  But the talented two-some handled this part of the game flawlessly.  The trouble for them was in the half-court where their perimeter shots weren’t falling, and the inside was filled with Generals.

Amesbury had won five straight games and had been undefeated (5-0) at home.

Plenty of scouts on hand from Pentucket.

HW defeated Amesbury 39-35 on December 15th.

Hamilton-Wenham was 15-9 last season reaching the Division 2 North title game.  Amesbury was 22-2 reaching the Division 3 state semifinals.

Amesbury box from the game

Hamilton-Wenham box from the game

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

Flannery O’Connor gets in for two in the first quarter

Flannery O’Connor (12) waits for a pass

Alli Napoli and Lauren Flynn battle for a rebound

Sadie Kermelewicz (4) guards Maddy Rivers

Lauren Flynn goes by Alli Napoli

Catherine LaForte defends Isabelle Dolan

Lauren Flynn looks to pass

Jemma Shea

Cecily Szady gets a layup

Jacqueline Fibbe eyes the hoop

Mary Bullis (15) fouled in the lane

Jacqueline Fibbe gets a layup



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Second half surge gets tourney win for Amesbury 48-34 over North Reading

Abbie Sartori (17 points) fires from the corner

Abbie Sartori (17 points) fires from the corner

Maddie Napoli (13 ponts) floats in the lane

Maddie Napoli (13 ponts) floats in the lane

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury was in trouble.

Tied with North Reading (27-27) 2 ½ minutes into the second half, and having top scorer Flannery O’Connor and starter Julia LaMontagne benched with foul trouble, the #1 seeded Indians appeared headed for a short post-season.

But Amesbury recovered and put together an impressive 19-1 segment over the next 10+ minutes of playing time and went from there to win, 48-34, on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Division 3 North tournament.

The Indians (20-1) will play the winner of tomorrow night’s matchup between Green Academy and St. Mary’s.

#8 seed North Reading got off to a rough start as senior Maddie Napoli (13 points) hit two three’s in the first 4 ½ minutes and the Indians led, 13-1.

Kat Hassapis (16 points) finds space in the lane

Kat Hassapis (16 points) finds space in the lane

But the Hornets came all the way back riding the terrific play of senior Kat Hassapis.  Kat’s three, halfway through the 2nd period, put the visitors in front, 18-17.

The Indians finished the half on a 7-2 run, helped by two technical foul shots, to lead at intermission, 27-22.

As I referenced before, Amesbury got into foul trouble early in the second half.  Losing Flannery O’Connor was serious since the sophomore had twenty-three points in the last NR/AHS meeting and only had four points so far in this one.

After the Hornets (11-12) knotted things at 27, the Indians took the game over for the next 10+ minutes of playing time.  Ali Napoli and Chelsea Lynch replaced their foul-prone teammates and before long Amesbury was going one way and North Reading was going the other.

In the 19-1 breakaway time, senior Abbie Sartori hit three jump shots and one triple while freshman Ali Napoli made a neat move in the lane to get a layup and assisted on three of the AHS baskets.

On the NR side, scoring was a big-time struggle.  The Hornets missed five-of-six free throws and had seven turnovers.

Mia DeNofrio

Mia DeNofrio

When North Reading finally made a field goal (Mia DeNorfio) with two minutes left, the visitors were down, 46-28, and the game had gotten away from them.

Mikayla Porcaro had a 3-pointer and a successful jump shot during Amesbury’s winning run.

Abbie Sartori led all scorers with seventeen points.

NR used a box-and-one to try to keep Flannery O’Connor from getting the ball.  Worked quite well although Flannery found some room inside late in the game.

The Indians defeated North Reading, 72-57, on January 6th.  The Hornets made eight three’s in the first half of that game.  Amesbury’s 1-3-1 zone defense worked well this time around, however, by limiting NR to only three long ones in this tourney win.

North Reading was called for a technical foul after a player entered the game and their name was not in the official scorebook.

Good crowd on hand.

Box for North Reading

Box for Amesbury

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

Lauren Sullivan blocks from behind

Lauren Sullivan blocks from behind

Flannery O'Connor draws a crowd

Flannery O’Connor draws a crowd

Loose ball

Loose ball

Kat Hassapis defended by the Napoli sisters

Kat Hassapis defended by the Napoli sisters

Noel Riley

Noel Riley

Amesbury cheerleaders show how it's done

Amesbury cheerleaders show how it’s done

Mikayla Porcaro and Victoria Grasso

Mikayla Porcaro and Victoria Grasso

Flannery O'Connor with Abbie Sartori

Flannery O’Connor with Abbie Sartori

Maddie Napoli

Maddie Napoli

Abbie Sartori

Abbie Sartori

Kat Hassapis and Ali Napoli (Two pretty good goalies in another season)

Kat Hassapis and Ali Napoli (Two pretty good goalies in another season)

Casey McAuliffe (#10) had two three's

Casey McAuliffe (#10) had two three’s




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Late three by Abbie Sartori pushes Amesbury past Newburyport 40-39

Abbie Sartori at center court

Abbie Sartori at center court

Maddie Napoli pressures Krysta Padellaro

Maddie Napoli pressures Krysta Padellaro

(Newburyport MA) Amesbury won a thriller over Newburyport, 40-39, on a three-point shot by senior Abbie Sartori with twelves second left.

The win was the 13th for the Indians and it erased the sting of their lone loss last week to Pentucket.

The Clippers made three 3’s in the final quarter and nearly had a fourth in the final seconds after Abbie’s 3-pointer.

Paige Gouldthorpe had the final shot.  She had already made two three’s in the quarter.  How she could be so wide open must have had AHS coach Matt Willis wondering.  Of course, how Abbie Sartori (11 points), who had a triple in the game, could be wide open near the arc with Amesbury down by two, probably had the same effect on NHS coach Gregg Dollas.

This game was not sloppy.  The shooting was.  The total on both sides for missed layups, and wild shots in traffic, was large.  On this night neither defense was giving much ground and there were few second shots.

Free throws?  Both teams missed six.  The report of Newburyport’s loss last week to Hamilton-Wenham placed the blame on poor foul shooting.  Versus Amesbury the FT shooting wasn’t necessarily poor, just off at the wrong time.

Krysta Padellaro at the line

Krysta Padellaro at the line

Katie Hadden's FT try

Katie Hadden’s FT try

Twice in the final thirty seconds the Clippers were at the foul line shooting one-and-one’s with a two-point (39-37) lead.  Misses both times (Krysta Padellaro and Katie Hadden).  Amesbury turned the ball over after Krysta’s miss but after Katie’s they produced the winning 3-pointer.  Maddie Napoli found Abbie for the clincher.

The Clippers (7-5) fell behind early (4-3) after a Flannery O’Connor drive and stayed there for most of the game.  The AHS lead was eight at the half (25-17) and after the third quarter (34-26).

The Clippers hadn’t made a three and the AHS interior defense was limiting most good looks inside.  The exception being Anna Hickman (14 points) who managed four layups through heavy AHS traffic in the second quarter.

Anna Hickman (14 points) in the lane

Anna Hickman (14 points) in the lane

That Amesbury eight-point lead looked safe entering the final quarter.  But it wasn’t.  The home team put a 13-1 run together to grab a 39-34 lead with 2 ½ minutes left.  Now who’s in control!  It’s the Clippers.

In the 13-1 run, the Clippers made shots from everywhere.  Krysta Padellaro had a layup.  Katie Hadden a jump shot.  And then there were the three’s: one by Anna Hickman, and two by Paige Gouldthorpe.

Amesbury was in trouble but was able to recover as Newburyport did not score a single point over the final 2 ½ minutes.  The Clippers had chances but they couldn’t cash them on this night.  I did think that Paige’s late 3-point try was a good bet after one of her three’s earlier in the quarter had come from the same spot.  But not this time.

Amesbury had nine unanswered in the second quarter to get a ten-point (18-8) lead.  A jump shot and a three by Abbie Sartori, a jump shot by Chelsea Lynch, and full-court drive by Flannery O’Connor (12 points) did the damage for AHS.

Both Julia LaMontagne and Mikayla Porcaro turned up layups in the final thirty seconds of the third quarter.  Mikayla’s just beat the buzzer.

Krysta was injured the in the 4th quarter but a quick tape job by the NHS trainer enabled the junior to be on the floor in crunch time.

Paige Gouldthorpe (singer/defender)

Paige Gouldthorpe (singer/defender)

Paige Gouldthorpe easily transitioned from singer to starter.

The big surprise for me was seeing Krysta and Maddie Napoli held to only two points each.  Maddie did a good job of denying passes to Krysta.  I saw her do the same thing to Triton’s Tessa Lafrance in AHS’s win over Triton.

NHS now has three straight losses.  They face a tough one (Pentucket) away on Friday night.  Later they will get Pentucket at home.

Amesbury hosts Manchester-Essex on Friday night.  In the games ahead, the Indians will face four teams that they have already beaten this season.  You have to like their chances of being a near-the-top seed in Division 3 North come tourney time.

Amesbury box

Newburyport box

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

Abbie Sartori stopped by Katie Hadden

Abbie Sartori stopped by Katie Hadden

Julie LaMontagne goes for a baseline drive

Julie LaMontagne goes for a baseline drive

Katie Hadden stops Julia LaMontagne

Katie Hadden stops Julia LaMontagne

Flannery O'Connor tries to get the ball from Katie Hadden

Flannery O’Connor tries to get the ball from Katie Hadden

Abbie Sartori blocks Anna Hickman's shot

Abbie Sartori blocks Anna Hickman’s shot

Flannery O'Connor (12 points) looks to score

Flannery O’Connor (12 points) looks to score

Crucial late-game jump ball

Crucial late-game jump ball






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Third quarter surge key in undefeated Amesbury’s 44-30 win over Triton

Flannery O'Connor (#12) had ten points for Amesbury in the third period.

Flannery O’Connor (#12) had ten points for Amesbury in the third period.

Tessa Lafrance (15 points) was shadowed by Maddie Napoli

Tessa Lafrance (15 points) was shadowed by Maddie Napoli

(Byfield MA) Amesbury (11-0) remains unbeaten after defeating Triton, 44-30, on Monday night in Cape Ann League action.

This game was anything but pretty as the two teams combined for forty-three turnovers and nineteen missed free throws.

How did Amesbury win?  The Indians had a 19-3 third quarter.  Flannery O’Connor (16 points) had ten points and two assists in the breakaway frame.  The Vikings (6-4), meanwhile, had seven turnovers in that same quarter and didn’t score at all in the final four minutes.

The run of good offense/defense by Amesbury brightened a dismal 18-18 first half for both teams.

Triton “won” the other three quarters but certainly not the crucial third quarter and that cost the home team.

Another factor in the Indians’ victory was the denial defense Maddie Napoli played on Tessa Lafrance.  Tessa did get fifteen points but eight of them were in the final quarter.

Outside accuracy was almost non-existent for both teams.  Amesbury found layups off turnovers and rebound breakouts.

It turned out that Amesbury had an excellent 2-2-1 pressing defense but because of their infrequent baskets we didn’t see much of it in the first half.

Sophomore Flannery O'Connor

Sophomore Flannery O’Connor

Late in the third period, however, was a different story, as AHS turned pressure into points.  The Indians closed the 3rd quarter with ten straight points.  Flannery had eight of those points; two of them off Triton turnovers, one on a full-court layup, and a 4th on a feed from Ali Napoli.

Given the opportunity in the first half to function without facing full-court pressure, Triton was much more comfortable.  They passed the ball and they saw to it that Erin Savage was in a position to make plays.

Defensively in the first half, the Vikings forced long shots and really swallowed up Amesbury penetrations.

At halftime, you didn’t know how the second half might go.  The Indians, however, did play most of the first half without foul-plagued Flannery.  The sophomore certainly made a difference in the third quarter.  She can rebound, pass, and score inside.

One scary moment in this game was when Maddie Napoli dove into the stands to save a ball.  Maddie collided with a man holding a baby as she saved the ball to her sister Ali.  Ali made a layup while Maddie made sure that things were okay in the stands…….and they were.

Amesbury came into this game averaging sixty-four points per outing.

Amesbury matched last season’s win total with their eleventh win.

The Vikings had won four straight before losing their last two.

The undefeated Indians have yet to face Pentucket, Newburyport, and Manchester-Essex.  All of those teams have winning records.

Tessa Lafrance puts in a rebound

Tessa Lafrance puts in a rebound

Amesbury’s next game is Tuesday hosting non-league Stoneham.

Triton visits Essex Tech on Wednesday.

Julia LaMontagne had five baskets and four of them were off feeds from Flannery O’Connor.

Triton box from the game

Amesbury box from the game

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

Ali Napoli scores while her sister Maddie checks on spectators.

Ali Napoli scores while her sister Maddie (in the background) checks on spectators.

loose ball

loose ball

Maddie Napoli gets to the basket

Maddie Napoli gets to the basket

Chelsea Lynch shoots over Mel Primpas

Chelsea Lynch shoots over Mel Primpas

Maddie Napoli in heavy Triton traffic

Maddie Napoli in heavy Triton traffic

Kate Carter

Kate Carter

Tessa Lafrance on a break with Abbie Sartori chasing

Tessa Lafrance on a break with Abbie Sartori chasing

Abbie Sartori tries to stop Erin Savage

Abbie Sartori tries to stop Erin Savage

Bridget Sheehan looks for an opening

Bridget Sheehan looks for an opening

Chelsea Lynch surrounded by a trio of Vikings

Chelsea Lynch surrounded by a trio of Vikings

Erin Savage and Abbie Sartori

Abbie Sartori and Erin Savage


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Amesbury routs Charlestown 83-40 in D3 North First Round

Flannery O'Connor on her way to two of her twenty-seven points

Flannery O’Connor on her way to two of her twenty-seven points

Maddie Napoli (11 points) gets past Keila Derosa

Maddie Napoli (11 points) gets past Keila Derosa

(Amesbury MA) No contest.

Amesbury (11-8) jumped on visiting Charlestown (8-9) early and often on their way to an 83-40 win in the First Round of the D3 North tournament on Monday night.

The Townies brought only six players and the Indians were quick to apply as much pressure as possible in an attempt to wear the visitors down.

Amesbury harassed Charlestown into twelve first-quarter turnovers and put up the game’s first nineteen points. AHS had those 19 points in the first 3 ½ minutes. Maddie Napoli (11 points) hit a three in the breakaway segment but everything else came from high-percentage, inside attempts.

Amesbury coach Matt Willis, in an act of early mercy in my opinion, pulled off full-court pressure with the nineteen points lead and Charlestown got a chance to show how they won eight games in the Boston City League.

Rae Miles-Willis (28 points) puts up a floater in the lane

Rae Miles-Willis (28 points) puts up a floater in the lane

Charlestown mounted a bit of a comeback and the sizable home crowd got a good look at the Townies Rae Miles-Willis (28 points) and her ability to dribble in traffic and put up shots in traffic. The junior lefty didn’t launch long ones but connected on a variety of pull-up jumpers inside the arc.

Rae’s offense, twelve points in the second quarter, enabled Charlestown to trail only, 39-22, at the half.

In the third quarter things went seriously downhill for the Townies. Amesbury collected thirty-two points (that’s four per minute!) on one layup after another. The miscues mounted for C’Town and the Indians had numerous breakaways.

Freshman Flannery O’Connor (27 points) ran her own personal layup drill getting ahead of the pack or loose underneath for ten baskets in the third quarter alone.

By then this game was begging for a basketball mercy rule like softball has. The point separation did give Coach Willis a chance to give all of his players tournament experience.

Leslie Del Carman (20), Zedekzka Berlingeri (14), and Stephany Rodriguez (21)

Leslie Del Carman (20), Zedekzka Berlingeri (14), and Stephany Rodriguez (21)

#7 seed Amesbury will now take on #2 seed Bishop Fenwick at St. John’s Prep (Danvers) on Friday night (7PM). The Indians will have their hands full in that one.

Charlestown ended their season losing seven of their last nine games.

Amesbury finished 7-2 at home. Good turnout in support of the Indians including the boys basketball team. The boys play at home on Wednesday against Saugus.

The Indians shot well from the outside early on but cooled off significantly during the last three quarters. They will definitely need outside shooting against a tall Bishop Fenwick team.

Flannery O’Connor, Megan Reid (12 points), and Julie LaMontagne (12 points) were strong on the boards for Amesbury.

Charlestown finished winless against the Cape Ann League in five attempts. None of the games, including tonight’s, were close. #1 seed North Reading had 71-20 and 59-19 victories over the Townies.

Amesbury boxscore

Charlestown boxscore

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

Rae Miles-Willis guarded by the entire Amesbury team

Rae Miles-Willis guarded by the entire Amesbury team

Abbie Sartori

Abbie Sartori

Game on!

Game on!

Maddie Napoli guards Rae Miles-Willis

Maddie Napoli guards Rae Miles-Willis

Maddie Napoli gets a layup

Maddie Napoli gets a layup

Rae Miles-Willis

Rae Miles-Willis

Flannery O'Connor in heavy Charlestown traffic

Flannery O’Connor in heavy Charlestown traffic

Julie LaMontagne (12 points)

Julie LaMontagne (12 points)

Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor

Rae Miles-Willis shoots in the lane

Rae Miles-Willis shoots in the lane

Zoe Fitzgerald

Zoe Fitzgerald

Abbie Sartori and Maddie Napoli chase Rae Miles-Willis

Abbie Sartori and Maddie Napoli chase Rae Miles-Willis

Megan Reid (12 points)

Megan Reid (12 points)


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