(Danvers MA) North Andover had a five-point lead in the first half and was tied with Newburyport early in the second half.
That was the good news for the (10-9) Knights.
The Clippers (18-2) overwhelmed NA the rest of the way.
The win, at Danvers High School, gained the tournament title for Newburyport in the Ed Gieras Memorial Tournament on Wednesday night.
“This was a really satisfying win,” said Clippers coach Karen Grutchfield afterwards. “We showed up to play against a good team.”
The Knights were able to hang around thanks to long-range accuracy. Katie Robie (12 points) and freshman Sydney Rogers each had a pair of 3-pointers to keep the game close in the early going.
In the second half, the Knights lost the outside touch and couldn’t contend with a Clippers’ team that had four players in double figures.
Junior Emma Foley was the tourney MVP. Emma thrived against single coverage around the basket. When NA opted to send extra defensive help it opened opportunities for other Clippers. On this night, those “other” players; Makenna Ward (17 points), Olivia McDonald (14 points), and Deirdre McElhinney, (12 points) all needed individual attention.
“We distributed the scoring pretty well,” said Coach Grutchfield.
“There are no excuses for the way we played in the second half,” said NA coach Jess Deveny post-game.
“When you don’t play well in the defensive end, it translates into not doing well in the offensive end,” she added.
The Clippers put up forty-four points in the second half. They had consecutive point-runs of ten and eight in the third quarter and fourteen in the final quarter.
The 26-26 tie turned into 36-26 in the third quarter and 54-34 in the last quarter.
Most of the Newburyport baskets had assists attached to them. Their passing was good, and they also converted several offensive rebounds.
“Newburyport got hot,” said Coach Deveny. “They were making all their shots. They’re a great squad. They’re in the top twenty in D2.”
North Andover is in the Merrimack Valley Conference and is used to a regular dose of tough competition.
“Every night is a battle in the MVC,” said Coach Deveny. “If you’re not ready, this is what happens.”
“Sydney Turner was special for us tonight,” said Coach Grutchfield. “She does all the little things and tonight she guarded their best player.”
Hannah Martin paced North Andover with fourteen points and was named to the all-tourney team. Olivia McDonald did a pretty good job of defending her. Olivia also had fourteen points including nine in the last quarter.
Makenna Ward finished with seventeen points and that earned her a spot on the all-tourney team. Makenna had a fast-break layup (assisted by Olivia McDonald) and a three-pointer when the Clippers gained the ten-point separation in the third quarter.
North Andover defeated Reading (58-44) to reach tonight’s final. Newburyport had a win over Danvers (59-34) to get to the championship game.
Katie Robie had four three-pointers for the Knights.
Newburyport 9 15 21 23 = 68
North Andover 10 13 7 18 = 48
(The pictures will enlarge.)