(Newburyport MA) The combination of two sizable runs of points and an effective full-court defense keyed Newburyport’s 61-49 win over Rockport on Tuesday night.
The Vikings (0-2) had won four of their last five previous meetings with the Clippers (1-0).
“Our bigs struggled to get going tonight,” explained Rockport coach Phil Whitley afterwards.
Some of that struggle was due to the never-ending in-your-face defense by the home team.
“The defense was good,” said NHS coach Dave Clay, “but there still are some things we need to clean up.”
Rockport had twenty-two turnovers (by my count). That’s a lot of empty possessions in a 32-minute game.
“We want the defense to be a staple of the team,” said Coach Clay.
Having 6’5” Casey McLaren at the point on the full-court defense, forced inbounds passes to the sides where the Clippers could double-team.
The Vikings broke open a close game (14-13) with a run of six points in the second quarter. A rebound basket by Jake Knowlton and two free throws apiece by Gavyn Hillier and Ezra Mendoza had RHS up, 20-13, with 3:49 left in the second quarter.
Then junior Ryan Archie heated up.
A rebound basket by Jacob Robertson was followed by eight straight Ryan points (two three’s and two free throws).
Both of Ryan’s 3-pointers were set up by George Coryell.
Newburyport led by a point (23-22) at the half.
Rockport opened the second half with three points and then the Clippers ran thirteen points over the next 3+ minutes.
That streak sent the home team up by ten points (35-25) and Rockport didn’t have the shooting to get closer than six points (51-45) the rest of the way.
The beauty of Newburyport’s run of thirteen points was that the scoring was done by four different players (Ryan Archie, Parker McLaren, Casey McLaren, Charlie Cahalane).
“When we moved the ball by passing instead of dribbling, we did better against their zone,” said Coach Clay.
Casey McLaren (19), Ryan Archie (14), Jacob Robertson (13), and Parker McLaren (10) were the top Newburyport scorers.
Rockport was paced by Jake Knowlton (17) and Gavyn Hillier (10).
The NHS defense was a factor in the outcome, but foul trouble was certainly a problem for Rockport as well.
Starters Jake Knowlton and Ezra Mendoza both had three fouls in the first half despite sitting out some minutes in that half.
Ezra fouled out of the game in the third quarter and Jake had his 4th before that same quarter was over.
Minus a primary ball-handler and their top scorer not only limited the Vikings offense but it added to their troubles handling pressure.
Jake Knowlton had thirty points in Rockport’s 83-77 loss to Bishop Fenwick in their opener.
I was impressed, as usual, with senior Casey McLaren. On a night when the three’s weren’t falling, he moved in for mid-range shots and drives. His defense within the press was important for NHS.
Coach Clay: “Parker (McLaren) played well. We need to keep him out of foul trouble. I love it when he attacks the basket. He’s such a big guy. Think of LeBron James in high school. I wouldn’t want to get in his way!”
Coach Whitley: “Their defense gave us trouble and our foul trouble didn’t help. I think we got tired in the second half.”
Serious man-to-man defense was played by George Coryell and Max Gagnon.
Good crowd in the house for the Clippers home opener.
Newburyport starts the season with six straight home games all in December.
Part of that good crowd was made up of other CAL schools scouting the two future opponents.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)