(Boxford MA) “You have to come to their level and compete,” said Masconomet coach Shannon Kirwan Monday night, “or you lose by eighteen.”
The Lady Chieftains did lose by eighteen (58-40) to Newburyport but for a quarter plus they more than held their own.
But the undefeated Clippers (10-0) were game-long persistent on defense. They forced twenty-six turnovers that led to twenty-seven points.
“I thought we played them tough,” said NHS coach Karen Grutchfield post-game. “I’m proud of them.”
The Lady Chieftains did a nice job defensively on Newburyport high-scorer Emma Foley in the early going. Emma faced two defenders as she positioned herself in close. For a time, her teammates forced passes inside (some led to turnovers) and struggled to score without Emma getting involved.
Kylie Dumont, Taylor Bovardi, and Kaleigh Monagle keyed Masco’s 15-12 first quarter advantage.
Things turned Newburyport’s way in the second quarter sparked by the appearance of reserve sophomore Olivia McDonald.
“Coach (Grutchfield) encouraged me to take the shot if I have it,” said Olivia afterwards.
Olivia started the second quarter with a layup and then hit a three to tie the score at 17-17.
With Masco keen on protecting the inside, Olivia found yet another long-range opening and nailed it to put the Clippers in front to stay, 22-19, with 4 ½ minutes left.
Newburyport was able to add eight more points before half-time. The Lady Chieftains, meanwhile, were held scoreless for nearly four minutes. Krystal Zepaj ended the scoring drought with a 3-pointer in the last minute.
Another three by Krystal, in the third quarter, had the home team within nine points (36-27) but the rest of the quarter saw Newburyport put a 12-3 run together.
Makenna Ward had eight of her twelve points in the third quarter while teammate Sydney Turner had six of her eight points in that same quarter. The Clippers led by eighteen (48-30) after three periods and would finish the game with the same margin.
“We kept our composure,” added Coach Grutchfield. “They came at us pretty hard.”
When Masco was forced to play man-to-man, Emma Foley (14 points) had clearer opportunities in close and took advantage.
“Masco is definitely a good team,” explained Deirdre McElhinney (10 points) afterwards. “They forced us to set up our offense a little more than we have had to in the past.”
The closest game the Clippers have had this season was a ten-point win over Pentucket.
“We keep pushing,” added Deirdre talking about the winning streak. “We’re trying to keep the momentum going.”
Coach Kirwan: “Newburyport is a very good team. Every part of their game they do well. They play basketball the way it is supposed to be played; tough, hard-nosed, and aggressive.”
Coach Grutchfield: “Olivia (McDonald) was a really good spark off the bench. She also did a nice job defending their best player.”
Masco made six 3’s including three by Krystal Zepaj.
The Clippers are now on a stretch of seven straight away games. They’ve won the first two including tonight’s game.
Thanks to Andy Tapparo for several of the stats I used. Andy produces stats for every Masco game and runs a terrific online site featuring the Lady Chieftains. It’s the best I’ve seen.
Newburyport 12 18 18 10 = 58
Masconomet 15 7 8 10 = 40
(The pictures will enlarge.)