Tag Archives: Liv Cross

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.

Turnover

“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

Turnover

Angelica Hurley eyes the hoop guarded by Flannery O’Connor

Arielle Cleveland (11 points) looks to pass

 

 

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Pentucket reaches D2 North finals with 59-45 win over Melrose

Pentucket celebrates after defeating Melrose

Casey Hunt (14 points) shoots over Sam Dewey

(Danvers MA) Pentucket dominated the beginning and the end defeating Melrose, 59-45, in the Division 2 North semi-finals on Thursday night at St. John’s Prep.

The Sachems (22-2) take on Wakefield on Saturday (2PM) in the D2 North finals at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell.  Melrose and Wakefield split in their two Middlesex League games this season.

Pentucket ran and pressed Melrose into mistakes from the outset and had a 10-0 lead after 4 ½ minutes.

“We never got into any kind of rhythm,” said Melrose coach Bill Hirchfield afterwards. “They were right on us from the get-go.”

Peri MacDonald (11) looks for a pass

What looked like a bad matchup early was anything but that as the game progressed.

Pentucket still led by ten (22-12) with 1 ½ minute left in the first half before a three-minute, twelve-point surge gave the Lady Raiders (19-4) the lead, 24-22, early in the third quarter.

During the run of good Melrose offense, Sam Smith’s big three ended the first half. Lily Cunningham (13 points) continued the Melrose scoring with a full-court layup and free throw.  Freshman Sam Dewey (17 points) finished the drive to the lead with a put-back.

“We scouted her (Sam Dewey) and knew she was good,” explained Pentucket coach John McNamara.  “She is very hard to handle down low.”

Freshman Sam Dewey (17 points) led all scorers

Liv Cross (10 points,10 rebounds) reignited the Pentucket offense with a rebound basket to tie things at 24-24.

Angleina Yacubacci (10 points) followed with two free throws that gave the Sachems the lead for good with four minutes to go in the 3rd quarter.

This game, however, was anything but settled.

The Lady Raiders stayed within one or two possessions until the Sachems gained serious separation with a run of seven points early in the final quarter to pull up by ten, 46-36.

That ten-point separation was just about as safe as that 10-0 lead at the start!

Alexis Doherty and Lily Cunningham drained three’s and Sam Dewey hit a free throw.  Suddenly that “comfortable” lead was once again a one-possession lead with three minutes left.

As I said at the start, Pentucket finished strong.  In the final stretch they controlled the ball without any turnovers and forced Melrose to foul by constantly going to the basket.

The Sachems late-game foul shooting was a very good eleven-for-fourteen.  There was also a Jess Galvin (11 points) layup set up by Casey Hunt (14 points).

The Lady Raiders could get just two free throws (Alexis Doherty) in those outcome-deciding final three minutes.

Peri MacDonald surrounded by Sachems

The final was 59-45.

“Everything we do is based off of our defense,” said Coach McNamara.  “When we play good defense, our offense opens up.”

That Sachems’ defense created a whopping thirty-two turnovers including six during the fast start and four during the strong finish.

The Lady Raiders were at their best when they turned Pentucket misses into fast breaks.  Lily Cunningham went the distance several times for Melrose.

“They were a good team,” said junior Liv Cross afterwards.

Liv gave credit to Coach McNamara: “He knows exactly what will work against teams.  He puts a lot of time and effort into scouting other teams.  We are always well prepared.”

Coach McNamara cited the play of junior Maddie Doyle: “She did a spectacular job on #32 (Alexis Doherty).  She is their high scorer and Maddie was very disciplined to keep focus on her.  Those little things are what gets a team to the divisional finals.”

Angleina Yacubacci (22) tries to drive by Abby Cunningham

The Sachems drove frequently to the basket. “We knew that they weren’t too deep, so we wanted to attack them and get them into foul trouble,” said Caoch McNamara. “We want to wear the other team down.”

I arrived early and wondered where everyone was.  Of course, I was at the old gym.  I told Coach McNamara about my mistake before the game and he said that he liked that old gym because Pentucket had never lost there.

The new gym is very nice.  The old one had one scoreboard.  This one has several.  I am not a fan of seats in the end zones but overall, I liked it.

Melrose’s last win over Wakefield gave them the Middlesex League Freedom Division title for the first time in ten years.

Melrose box

Pentucket box

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

Liv Cross (32) blocks a shot attempt by Sam Dewey

Jess Galvin (11 points)

Sam Dewey guards Liv Cross

Casey Hunt dives for a loose ball

Lily Cunningham (10) went coast-to-coast several times

Casey Hunt tied up by Lily and Abby Cunningham

Maddie Doyle (21) defends Alexis Doherty

Casey Hunt (20) takes off after another steal

Freshman MacKenzie Currie at the line

 

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Pentucket rides last quarter to 44-32 win over Newburyport

Casey Hunt tries to drive past Krysta Padellaro

Sophomore Angelina Yacubacci had sixteen points to lead the Sachems

(Newburyport MA) Pentucket 44, Newburyport 32.

It’s why I cover games!  Scores alone can be very misleading.

This wasn’t a “twelve-point” game. This was a close game with FOURTEEN lead changes through three quarters.

“Newburyport is a very good team,” said Pentucket coach John McNamara afterwards.

And that they were……….for three quarters.

The 4th quarter?  The Clippers defense was still good, but the offense disappeared.

“We needed to take better shots,” conceded Newburyport coach Gregg Dollas. “We needed to move the ball.  We really struggled with shot choices in the last quarter.”

Today’s last quarter probably brought back bad memories from the last time Pentucket and Newburyport faced each other.  It was March 1st in the first round of the D2 North tournament.  In that one the Clippers were down 12-1 after a quarter and ended up losing badly, 46-19.

Abi Gillingham and Liv Cross near the basket

Today it was the last quarter that sunk the Clippers. They were outscored 9-1 in that quarter and squandered a game in which they were impressive otherwise.

The Sachems (8-1) are a team that will press and use defense to create offense.

The Clippers (7-2) play a tight man-to-man defense and will run with turnovers and rebounds.

The most impressive thing about Newburyport (IMO) in this game was that they had fewer turnovers (12) than Pentucket did (19).  The Clippers took good care of the ball.

The most impressive thing about Pentucket?  Their game-long organized offense. They certainly looked to get the ball inside to junior Liv Cross (“She’s a stud! – Coach Dollas) but they were patient about it.

That patience on offense was most noticeable in the final quarter when Newburyport raised the pressure.

Angelina Yacubacci blocks Meghan Winn’s shot

Sophomore Angelina Yacubacci topped all scorers with sixteen points.  Angelina drained a three in the third quarter and made four straight free throws in the final two minutes to make NHS pay for fouling.

The best one-on-one matchup was between Cape Ann League All-Stars Casey Hunt and Krysta Padellaro.

Krysta lost some time because of fouls.  “We can’t have her sitting on the bench with foul trouble,” said Coach Dollas.

Coach McNamara also had a key player on the bench with fouls. Inside threat Liv Cross sat out in the first half with two quick fouls. “We missed having her out there,” said Coach McNamara.

Newburyport broke away from a 9-9 tie 1 ½ minutes into the second half.  A rebound basket by Abi Gillingham, a steal and layin by Anna Hickman, and a Maggie Pons jump shot from the right had the Clippers in front by six (15-9).

Back came the visitors with nine straight points.  Two inside scores by Angelina Yacubacci and a layup by Emily Riley was followed by a 3-point shot (off the backboard) from straightaway by sophomore Angelica Hurley.

Against some teams a Pentucket run like that one is the beginning of an avalanche of points.  Not this time.  The Clippers had answers and took the lead three more times.  An inbounds play by NHS (to Abi Gillingham) tied the score at 31 with thirty-five seconds left in the 3rd period.

Thereafter, Newburyport’s inability to make shots or even draw fouls did them in.  Meanwhile, the Sachems scored the next seven points, including another three by Angelica Hurley (from Casey Hunt) that put Pentucket up, 38-31.

The Clippers finally got a point (free throw Meghan Winn) with two minutes left but the last six points scored in this game were by Pentucket’s Angelina Yacubacci.

Pentucket is looking to win their fourth straight Cape Ann League title.

Abi Gillingham deflects Angelica Hurley’s shot

Player to watch?  Newburyport’s Abi Gillingham. The 6-1 freshman is a presence at both ends of the court.  She discouraged several Sachems shooters from even attempting a shot in close to the basket.  “She has potential,” added Coach Dollas.

Now in his 12th year, John McNamara has a remarkable 240-42 record.  Many of those losses are against non-CAL teams.

The Clippers did put a 33-29 win together against Pentucket last season on February 14th at Newburyport.

The two Division 2 opponents will meet again on February 9th at Pentucket.

Pentucket box

Newburyport box

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

Angelica Hurley dives for a loose ball

Jess Galvin takes a three from in front of the Pentucket bench

Anna Hickman chases a ball going out of bounds

Krysta Padellaro sees an opening

Krysta Padellaro guards Angelina Yacubacci

Paige Gouldthorpe and Liv Cross collide

Bella Doyle

Pentucket had nineteen turnovers

 

 

 

 

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