Tag Archives: Liv DeLong

Amesbury gains D4 Final Four with 12-0 win over Easthampton

Fourteen strikeouts for Liv DeLong against Easthampton
Final Four trophy

(Amesbury) Amesbury is back in familiar territory, the Final Four.

The #2 seed in Division 4 defeated #10 Easthampton, 12-0, on Friday afternoon at Perry Field.

The Eagles (17-6) had pitching problems even before the game started as ace Rosemary Follet was unable to go because of tendonitis.

Normal third baseman Lauren Morse took on the pitching chores and had some success for a while.

“We were expecting a faster pitcher to say the least,” said 2B Cali Catarius afterwards.  “We eventually adapted to it and got going in the sixth inning.”

Izzy Levasseur – 3 hits and 4 rbi

Amesbury turned a 6-0 game into a 12-0 game with a six-run sixth inning.

Meanwhile, Amesbury’s pitcher (Liv DeLong) put together a fourteen-strikeout, three-hitter.

Liv had strikeouts in every inning. 

None of the strikeouts was bigger than the one on Jessica Cloutier in the fourth inning.

In that fourth inning, after one out, the Eagles put two hits (Anastasia Growhoski, Lauren Morse) and a walk (McKenzie McCarthy) together to load the bases.

Jessica put a terrific at-bat together and got the count to 3-2 after numerous foul balls before striking out.  Liv then struck out the next batter to end the threat.

McKenzie McCarthy had one of the Eagles’ three hits

“That was a big strikeout,” said AHS catcher Ella DeLisle afterwards.  “That was a scary inning, but Liv pitched her way through it.”

Liv was quick to praise her catcher: “Her pitch calling was what made me successful today.  She frames.  She blocks.  I don’t do any of the pitch calling.”

While the slower pitch-speed seemed to throw off some of the Amesbury hitters, sophomore Izzy Levasseur wasn’t one of them.  She went three-for-three and drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly, a single, and two doubles.

“I hit the ball hard today,” recalled Izzy.  “We all kind of pick each other up in hitting.”

Amesbury (22-1) had two in the first and one each in the second and third.  They took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning in which Liv DeLong escaped the bases-loaded jam.

“I thought the game was slow,” said Amesbury coach Jacquie Waters afterwards.  “We’ve had days off along the way and now we need to have them focused so we’ll be going every day.”

Ella Bezanson and Izzy Levasseur scored five runs between them

The lack of a big inning against an inexperienced pitcher held until the Amesbury sixth inning.  In the early innings the strong wind (toward first base) and the skills of the Easthampton outfielders had lessened the damage Amesbury did. 

The sixth inning was a different story.  Two infield errors, and two walks set things up for two-run doubles by Izzy Levasseur and her sister Olivia.  Ella DeLisle singled in a run.

The six-run outburst put an end to any rally plans Easthampton may have entertained.

“It took us a while to get going,” said Ella DeLisle who had two hits and drove in a run.

Amesbury will play at home in the state semi-finals on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Megan Fickett takes a swing

“It feels good to be so successful,” said Liv afterwards.  “We do put in a lot of practice time.”

Coach Waters has brought in some outside pitching to prepare her team for the expected good pitching that lies ahead.

It was extremely windy today, but the sun was shining.

The Easthampton roster, given out at the game, had two #15’s on it.  My guessing needs refinement.  I opted to use Shelby Clark to lead off and play shortstop.  I discovered that the “real” #15 is Abigail McClaflin. 

Easthampton had a win over Turners Falls in April.  Yes, that’s the team that defeated Amesbury in the state finals last year.  This year TF is in Division 5.

Easthampton entered the game having won eight-of-nine.  Five of their six losses have been on the road.

Amesbury is now 13-0 at home and are averaging twelve runs per game.  Their only loss was 3-2 to Methuen on May 29th.  They have only allowed an incredible EIGHT runs total all season. 

Easthampton   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   =   0

      Amesbury   2   1   1   0   2   6   –   =   12

Unofficial Easthampton box

Unofficial Amesbury box

Alex Donnell scores the 9th Amesbury run

LF Lexi LeBlanc

RF Jessie Cloutier makes a running catch

Cali Catarius avoids the tag of SS Abigail McClaflin

Play at second base

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Amesbury routs Pentucket 21-0

Seniors from Pentucket and Amesbury
Alana DeLisle had four hits and struck out twelve

(Amesbury) The numbers are mind boggling!

Amesbury (12-0) has now scored 158 runs and given up 3 runs.

This afternoon they mercy-ruled Pentucket, 21-0.

Pentucket, which is now 6-7, had been in every game until today.

“They are obviously an unbelievable team,” said Pentucket coach Deb Smith afterwards.  “They hit 1-9.  We’re never going to face a team like this again.”

Today was Senior Day for Amesbury’s four seniors: Liv DeLong, Alana DeLisle, Olivia Levasseur, and Ella Bezanson.

“I started watching them when they were eighth graders on our freshman team,” recalled Amesbury coach Jacqui Waters.  “They are all great players.”

Olivia Levasseur had a 3-run homer

There will be next-level softball for all four of them.  Liv will be at Boston University while the other three are headed for Southern Maine.

“We’ve been together since third grade,” said Liv.  “Senior Day is a bit sad but we’re all going on to play some more.  We’ll leave behind a lot of memories, though.”

In this game, all the Amesbury players had at least one hit and scored at least one run.  Eight players in the lineup had RBI.

“We hit the ball hard,” said Coach Waters.

Amesbury sent eleven batters to the plate in the first inning and collected six runs on seven hits.

Ella Bezanson scored four times

Amesbury’s most productive inning was the third in which fifteen batters came up and totaled nine runs on ten hits.

“We were hitting the gaps today,” said Ella Bezanson. There were nine extra-base hits.

The most celebrated hit for Amesbury was in the fourth inning when Olivia Levasseur cleared the fence in left.

“It’s exciting running the bases and seeing the crowd at home plate,” said Olivia.  “It was like a dream come true.”

“I knew it was gone because I hit it a certain way,” she added.  This was Olivia’s second home run of the season.

Alana DeLisle

Easily lost in all the hitting, was the effective pitching of Alana DeLisle. 

The game was over after Pentucket batted in the fifth inning but Alana had enough time to record twelve strikeouts.

“I threw some curves today,” said Alana.  “I did what Ella (her sister, the catcher) told me to do.” Alana also made a nice diving catch of a short popup between the mound and home plate.

Pentucket did get two hits off Alana.  Nikki Mitchell lined a single to center in the first inning while teammate Meg Hamel singled sharply to left in the fourth inning.

Ella Bezanson paced Amesbury scoring four times.  Alana DeLisle led Amesbury with four hits (three doubles and a single).  Olivia Levasseur was tops in RBI with five.

Liv DeLong

“We’re moving on,” said Coach Smith. “We’ll put this game behind us.”

A food truck was available as part of the post-game Senior Day festivities.  I’ll admit I was tempted.

I was badly fooled by the weather.  I have had straight days requiring multi-layers.  Today it was sunny with no wind.  It felt good!

Pentucket   0   0   0   0   0   =    0

Amesbury   6   2   9   4   –    =  21

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Amesbury unofficial box

Pentucket unofficial box

Watching the game

Coach Smith visits the mound

Alana DeLisle makes a diving catch

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Amesbury’s 12-run fifth sinks Concord-Carlisle 13-1

Amesbury started making solid contact in the fifth inning
Liv DeLong
Madi Gambino

(Amesbury) Neither team had a hit through four innings.

Amesbury did have a run, however, as Ella Bezanson had walked, stolen second, and come home in the 4th inning after two wild pitches.

No doubt that Concord-Carlisle’s Madi Gambino and Amesbury’s Liv DeLong were in charge.

Phoebe Rodgers scored the CC run

But everything changed in the fifth inning.  In fact, the game ended before the fifth inning ended!

In the top of the fifth, the Patriots (2-4) got their first hit (Brooke Boyle) and it drove in Phoebe Rodgers who had walked and advanced to third on an infield error.

That tied the score at 1-1 and now it was Amesbury’s turn to bat in the fifth.

And did they ever bat….and score.  Eight hits and twelve runs before the mercy rule kicked in.

13-1 was the final.

Olivia Levasseur had two triples

“My team was competing for a while,” said CC coach Lisa McGloin afterwards.  “Give credits to Amesbury.  They made adjustments at the plate, and they hit the ball hard.”

Not only hard but far.  There were six extra-base hits among the fourteen players who batted for (9-0) Amesbury in their explosive fifth.

Alana DeLisle, Olivia Levasseur, Cali Catarius, and Lexi LeBlanc each scored twice during the inning.  The second time Lexi scored ended the game.

Ella Bezanson scored the first AHS run

Olivia Levasseur had two triples in the inning and drove in three runs.

Maybe the events of last night played a part in the way this game unfolded?  Concord-Carlisle played a game under the lights while the Amesbury girls had their prom.

“We had the prom last night,” said Coach Waters, “which is always a killer.  They were all out late which was why the game was moved to a 2PM start.”

“The prom wasn’t a problem,” countered rightfielder Lauren Celia.  “They were a good team.”

3B Jill Brennan throws to first

Madi Gambino impressed through four innings.  She had solid support behind her.  RF Lana Bardzik robbed Ella Bezanson of extra bases in the first inning with a running catch.  Shortstop Nicole Cela got in front of Olivia Levasseur’s line-drive laser in the second inning.

In the Amesbury fifth, their hard hits found space while the Patriots’ defense allowed extra at-bats. 

The nightmare inning (for CC) started with a fly ball that two outfielders went after.  They got tangled up and Amesbury had its first hit.  The home team went on to get seven more hits to gain the win.

The mercy ending kept Liv DeLong from pitching any longer.  She did finish with eleven strikeouts and gave up just one hit in the five innings.

Coach Waters and Coach McGloin

“They were definitely up there to hit,” recalled Liv.  “The strike zone was a little tight and I wasn’t getting much on the outside.  So, we worked inside.  I can’t, however, be afraid to throw outside.”

Amesbury faced Concord-Carlisle a week ago, in a game that went the full seven innings, winning 11-0.  Alana DeLisle pitched and had thirteen strikeouts.

“Our team today was resilient enough to know that we had to pick it up,” said Coach Waters.

Watching the game

“There are always a lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda’s but you can’t live in that world,” said Coach McGloin.

When the first Amesbury batter was robbed by a nice running catch in the outfield, I had an immediate flashback to last year’s title game against Turners Falls.  TF had three remarkable outfield catches in that 5-4 heartbreaker.

“Every close game we have at the start, I think ‘Turners Falls,’ said Liv DeLong.  “But we’ve learned from that experience.  It just took us a while to get going today.”

Concord Carlisle’s run today was only the second run scored against Amesbury through nine games.  Peabody had the first one on April 4th in the season opener.  Meanwhile, Amesbury has scored 112 runs over the same period.  We’re talking special team!

It was cold (50’s) and a little breezy at the start but the wind died down to make things more pleasant.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Amesbury unofficial box
Concord-Carlisle unofficial box
Lauren Celia
Trouble in the Concord-Carlisle outfield
Shortstop Nicole Celi
CF Ella Bezanson
3B Alana DeLisle
1B Izzy Levasseur
Lexi LeBlanc scores the game-ender
Ella Bezanson gets into second
Super catch by CC outfielder Lana Bardzik

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Liv DeLong no-hits Newburyport in 9-0 Amesbury win

Liv DeLong and catcher Ella Delisle celebrate the no-hitter
Liv DeLong – 11 K’s

(Amesbury) Liv DeLong didn’t know until the game was over.

“One of the umpires said it would have been a perfect game without the walks,” said Liv.

Liv DeLong had a no-hitter, with eleven strikeouts, leading Amesbury (4-0) past Newburyport, 9-0, on Wednesday afternoon.

“She shut us down and there was nothing we could do about it,” said Newburyport coach Bob Gillespie post-game.

Emily Meleedy

Amesbury was in contact mode against the Clippers’ starter Emily Meleedy. They whacked thirteen hits, getting at least one in every inning.

“We knew that (Emily) Meleedy is good, so we wanted to attack at the plate,” said AHS coach Jacqui Waters afterwards.  “We talked yesterday about going after the first strike.”  Amesbury never walked once.

Amesbury hit the ball hard and it was a credit to the Newburyport defense that they kept this one from entering the mercy-rule zone.

RF Matigan Richmond

3B Sophie Lavallee saved two runs snaring a line drive in the second inning.  RF Matigan Richmond made a nice running catch to start the Amesbury third inning.  Shortstop Emma Keefe kept numerous red-hot grounders in the infield and also made a good running catch in back of second base.

All these good plays lessened Amesbury’s run production and extended the game the full seven innings.

Amesbury turned three hits into four runs in the first inning.  Two Newburyport infield errors prolonged the inning.  Ella Bezanson, Liv DeLong, and Olivia Levasseur had the first-inning RBI’s.

Ella Bezanson – solo homer

Ella Bezanson had a solo homer over the centerfield fence in the Amesbury fourth.

“The pitch was right down the middle, and I saw it well,” said Ella afterwards.

Newburyport picked up their first baserunner (walk to Emily Meleedy) after Liv had retired eleven straight, striking out six of them.

Sophomore Grace Habib had a leadoff walk in the fifth inning.

“I gave up two walks, but that happens,” said Liv.  “Neither one of them got past first base.”

Nieve Morrissey

The closest Newburyport came to getting a hit was on a grounder to short by leadoff batter Nieve Morrissey.  Nieve is a fast runner and shortstop Olivia Levasseur’s throw to first just barely beat her.

The Clippers were unable to get the ball out of the infield.  2B Cali Catarius had four assists.

“They were up there to hit,” said Liv.  “My movement pitches were working especially my curveball.”

“Liv takes things in stride and is so easy to coach,” said Coach Waters.  “I don’t think she knew it was a no-hitter until the end.  We didn’t tell her. I think it was her 4th no-hitter.”

Liv DeLong – three singles

Liv is committed to play softball at Boston University next year.  “I’m not sure if it’s for pitching or hitting but if I’m being honest, it is probably hitting.”

Liv had three singles against Newburyport today.  I asked her about the two strikeouts she had against the slow-pitching, eighth grader from Georgetown recently.  “Getting the timing down is difficult.  Slow pitching brings out all the flaws in my swing.  There’s no time for that against fast pitching.  We do better as a team against fast pitching.”

Ella Bezanson, Lexi LeBlanc, and Lauren Celia each had two hits for Amesbury.

Alana Delisle and Sophie Lavallee

The Clippers (1-4) have three games next week.  “We’re looking to bounce back,” said Coach Gillespie.

So far, Amesbury has scored forty-three runs and given up only one (Peabody).

Amesbury has now defeated Newburyport three straight times.

Coach Gillespie took an Amesbury run off the books by appealing that a runner had left early tagging up.

Liv DeLong: “Winning the basketball championship was bitter sweet because I knew that I wouldn’t be playing basketball again but I was excited to win a championship.  There was only one day between basketball and softball.  I now want to get a softball championship.”

Wonderful weather for April 13th.

Newburyport   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   =   0

Amesbury         4   0   0   2   1   2        =   9

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Amesbury unofficial book
Newburyport unofficial book
2B Cali Catarius – four assists
Shortstop Emma Keefe makes a running catch
Catcher Ella Delisle dives for a popup
Freshman Lexi LeBlanc had two hits
Watching the action
Lauren Celia bunts
Watching the action
CF Nieve Morrissey makes a catch
Ball loose in the infield
Catcher Grace Habib chases a foul popup
Shortstop Olivia Levasseur throws to first
Ella Bezanson homered for Amesbury

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Amesbury tops Peabody 3-1 in season opener

Liv DeLong – twelve strikeouts, three hits allowed
Abby Bettencourt – nine strikeouts, three hits allowed

(Amesbury) Two great teams.

1B Izzy Levasseur (13) catches the final out

Two terrific pitchers.

Certain to be a good game…and it was.

Amesbury bested Peabody, 3-1, at Perry Park this afternoon in season-opening, non-league action.

Amesbury was 16-2 last year with losses to Peabody and later to Turners Falls in the Division 3 state title game in July.

Peabody was 17-1 last year and didn’t get their lone loss until the Division 1 North title game.

And both teams had plenty of players back from those teams, including standout pitchers Liv DeLong and Abby Bettencourt.

Ella Delisle scored the first Amesbury run

This afternoon Liv finished with twelve strikeouts while Abby had nine.

Liv had seven K’s in the first three innings while Abby had seven K’s in the last three innings.

Each team had three hits.  Amesbury had three runners left on base while Peabody had only two.

This was not a day to fatten up your batting average. Just make contact and hope for a break or two.

“The difference in this game was that we had two physical errors,” explained Tanners’ coach Tawny Palmieri afterwards.  “Three unearned runs cost us the game.  Amesbury’s defense was better than ours was.”

LF Penny Spack makes a nice catch

In a game in which runs figured to be scarce, Amesbury picked up two in the first inning.

Ella Delisle led off the game getting hit by a pitch.  Ella Bezanson followed with a single that got past the rightfielder allowing Ella Delisle to score and Ella Bezanson to reach third.  A Liv DeLong full-swing dribbler to the mound allowed the second run to come across.

“It was huge to get two in the first inning,” said AHS coach Jacqui Waters afterwards.  “Ella (Bezanson) was our best hitter last year.”

Peabody squandered a great chance in the fourth inning.  Singles by Logan Lomasney and Emma Bloom combined with a passed ball had Tanners on second and third with one out.  But Liv DeLong struck out the next two batter to leave two runners stranded.

Liv DeLong heads for third

In the Amesbury fourth inning, consecutive singles by Liv DeLong and Olivia Levasseur put runners on the corners for the Indians.  Alana Delisle’s fly ball to short right was dropped but there was a force-out at second base.  However, Liv DeLong reached home on that play with Amesbury’s third run.

Peabody picked up their run in the sixth inning.  Sophomore Abby Bettencourt singled, took second on a wild pitch and third on a fielder’s choice.  A second wild pitch allowed Abby to reach home without a throw.

Liv DeLong retired Peabody in order in the final inning to preserve the victory for Amesbury.

Abby Bettencourt scores the Peabody run in the sixth inning

“These teams are even as far as I’m concerned,” said Coach Waters.  “We just happened to come out on top today.”

“Liv is a very good pitcher,” said Coach Palmieri afterwards.  “It was the first time we’ve seen her.  We saw the other pitcher when we faced them last year.”

There will be a second game between the two teams at the end of the season.

“I need the non-league games with these powerhouses,” said Coach Waters.  “I need to know where we are.  We also play Concord-Carlisle in the middle of the season.”

Coach Tawny Palmieri with runner Logan Lomasney

The power ranking system will be in play as it was for basketball.  The caliber of the teams you face has plenty to do with where you end up in the rankings.  Previously rankings were sectional and based on wins and losses.

Liv DeLong was familiar with Abby Bettencourt.  “I played travel ball with her,” she said.

“Peabody was a good team,” said Liv.  “I prepared myself to move the ball around.  I knew that I couldn’t just throw the ball down the middle.”

“Liv is just so good,” said her catcher, Ella Delisle.  “Her curve and her rise were very effective. I like being able to call the pitches.”

Ella Bezanson scores Amesbury’s second run in the first inning

“Our league doesn’t start until Wednesday,” said Coach Palmieri.  “We’ll learn from this and hope to get rolling in the league.”

Abby Bettencourt was the Player-of-the-Year in the Northeastern Conference last year as a freshman.

“Abby is a great pitcher,” said Coach Waters.  “I thought that this might be one of those quick games that went 0-0 into the late innings.  Fortunately, we got some runs early.”

Both teams wore uniforms that only had numbers on the back.  Not what you would hope for as a photographer!

Freshman Lexi LeBlanc

Amesbury did not lose the game but somehow their uniforms from last year are lost.  As a result, they were wearing uniforms from three years ago.

The sun was shining, and it was breezy for the opener for both teams.

It is not too hard to imagine that both teams will be in good position in the power rankings at the end of the regular season. 

Can these teams make a tourney run and turn this into an extra special season as the Amesbury girls basketball team just did?  Both teams came close last year. 

(The pictures will enlarge.)

(Unofficial) Peabody box
(Unofficial) Amesbury box
Ella Bezanson and Izzy Levasseur
Abby Bettencourt reaches second base
Kiley Doolin fields a single
Emma Bloom at second base
Logan Lomasney beats out a bunt
1B Izzy Levasseur
2B Cali Catarius
SS Olivia Levasseur
3B Alana Delisle
3B Logan Lomasney
Ella Delisle heads for second base
Senior Liv DeLong

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Amesbury girls win D4 title defeating Millbury 57-31

Amesbury wins the Division 4 girls title
Amesbury players in front of the student section afterwards

(Lowell) Mission accomplished.

“This was our goal and we worked so hard this season to get here,” said Amesbury senior Liv DeLong afterwards.

The Amesbury Indians are the Division Four girls’ champs for the 2021-22 season.

They made it happen this afternoon at the Tsongas Arena by defeating Millbury, 57-31.

Ashleigh Lagor (13 points)

After a close first quarter (7-6), the Indians found their scoring touch and continued with a persistent man-to-man defense.  That combo enabled Amesbury to outscore the Woolies 50-25 over the last three quarters.

“After the first quarter they were better than us in each quarter after that,” said Millbury coach Steve Reno post-game.  “To be fair, that was probably accurate.”

“We’re not that disappointed with the result,” Coach Reno added.  “We needed a perfect game to beat them.  We needed to make every shot and every free throw and hope they had a rough night.  That didn’t happen.”

The key to the Indians point production was patience. 

“We worked together passing as much as we could and found the open shot,” said McKenna Hallinan.

Gabby Redford (14 points)

Gabby Redford (14 points) broke open a 16-13 game hitting three 3’s and adding a layup assisted by McKenna Hallinan.

Gabby’s hot shooting gave Amesbury it’s first ten-point lead (27-17) four minutes into the second half.

That lead would grow.  As Millbury’s 2-3 zone got stretched to cover outside shots, Avery Hallinan took over the inside.

“Once we started making shots, it opened up Avery inside,” explained Amesbury coach Dollas. 

Layce Hermans connected from long range to get the Woolies inside of ten points (29-20) with three minutes left in the third quarter. 

Avery Hallinan (20 points)

After that a steady flow of Amesbury’s multi-passes led steadily to Avery Hallinan finishes around the basket.

“They played a zone, so you need ball movement to get it inside for a one-on-one,” said Avery (20 points). 

“You know what happens when it’s one-on-one inside,” Avery added with a smile afterwards.

“The zone worked for a while, but they kept isolating Avery (Hallinan) down on the block,” recalled Coach Reno.  “Ash (Lagor) did a good job on her for three quarters, but she had eleven points in the last quarter.”

McKenna Hallinan defends

While the Woolies defense wavered, the Amesbury defense didn’t.  That combination transformed a 29-20 game into a 44-22 game over the next 4 ½ minutes of playing time extending into the fourth quarter.

“We got up by twenty and got to chill out for the end of it,” said McKenna Hallinan.  “It was a lot less stressful.”

“What Gabby and McKenna did defensively on #10 (Bianca Vincequere) and #11 (Ashleigh Lagor) was great,” said Coach Dollas.  “Those two young Millbury players were terrific with a bright future.”

The biggest cheer of the game?  It wasn’t when the game was over, although that was loud.  It was when the coach’s daughter (Emma) banked in a three-point shot in the last moment.

Emma Dollas 3-pointer excited the Amesbury faithful
Layce Hermans heads for the hoop

“It was her first points of the season,” said Coach Dollas afterwards with a smile.

Sophomore Ashleigh Lagor led #10 Millbury with thirteen points.  The Woolies (19-6) are in the Southern Worcester County League.

Sami Kimball (10 points) joined teammates Avery Hallinan and Gabby Redford in double figures for the #4 seed Amesbury.  The Indians (21-4) are in the Cape Ann League.

Sami Kimball blocks a shot

Coach Dollas had nothing but praise for his four seniors (Avery Hallinan, McKenna Hallinan, Gabby Redford, Liv DeLong): “They are competitive in everything.  They came to play every time.  For them to be healthy after all the games and minutes they put in shows that they were taking good care of themselves.”

Coach Reno: “We wanted to drive-and-kick and make three’s.  However, we couldn’t get to the paint, and we knew that if we did their size would be trouble.”

Sami Kimball: “We put it together.  All our practicing paid off.  It’s a really big moment for us and the school.”

Gabby Redford: “I’m so happy we did it.  I knew we could do it.  We passed the ball and we worked as a team.  Our defense was really good.”

Avery Hallinan

Avery Hallinan: “It is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had.  It was great to bring the championship home.  We settled down in the second half.  We realized that it was our game if we moved the ball around and hit our shots and layups.”

Liv DeLong: “To win a championship has been the goal of the four of us since second grade.  It’s bittersweet now however because basketball is over.”

Coach Dollas: “I don’t ever expect to have four seniors like our four.  They are truly extensions of the coach.”

AHS seniors Liv DeLong, Avery Hallinan, McKenna Hallinan, Gabby Redford
Katelyn Gasco surrounded

Avery Hallinan scored at least twenty points in all five of Amesbury’s tournament games.  She will be playing at Endicott next year.

Gabby Redford will be playing basketball at Framingham State.  McKenna Hallinan will play soccer for UMass Boston.  Liv DeLong is committed to play softball at BU next year.

A foursome truly blessed with athletics skills and a commitment to get better.  They combined to deliver a state championship to Amesbury on this happy afternoon for the town.

Amesbury   7   15   16   19   =   57

Millbury      6     8      8     9   =   31

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Millbury Woolies post-game
Late-game battle on the boards
Gabby Redford goes baseline
Sami Kimball (10 points)
Ashleigh Lagor looks for a passing lane
Bianca Vincequere guarded by McKenna Hallinan
Avery Hallinan in from the left side
Avery Hallinan looks to pass
Millbury box
Amesbury box

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Amesbury reaches D4 state final after defeating South Hadley 61-57

Amesbury advances to the Division 4 state final
Avery Hallinan (29 points)

(Framingham MA) How would Amesbury handle adversity?

For all three tournament games, the comfortable leads came early, and the game endings were anti-climactic.

Then there was tonight!

Amesbury was down by nine (28-19) one minute into the second half and then in the fourth quarter Avery Hallinan fouled out with five minutes left.

But Amesbury showed comeback skills and survival skills and defeated South Hadley, 61-57, to gain the Division 4 state finals to be held this weekend at Tsongas Arena (Lowell).

Kacie Levrault (17 points)

Avery Hallinan (29 points) was the key piece in Amesbury’s turnaround third quarter.

South Hadley played man-to-man defense so Amesbury responded by spreading the court keeping Avery close to the lane.  Avery started to take advantage of the inside coverage and put a 16-point quarter together.

Her traditional 3-point play with 1:50 left in the quarter put the Indians in the lead (35-33) and completed a comeback from a 28-19 deficit at the start of the quarter.

“My first half wasn’t good at all,” said Avery, “but in the third quarter we pulled it together.”

Avery Hallinan had 16 points in the 3rd quarter

“Our third-quarter run was key,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollas.

After the Tigers (17-8) tied the score at 37-37 on two Olivia Marion free throws, Avery was able to pick up a remarkable six points in the final nineteen seconds.

To get the points Avery spun into a layup and made two free throws on Amesbury’s next possession. When the Tigers tried a last-second shot from the other end there was a traveling call with 1.5 seconds left.  That gave McKenna Hallinan time to get a pass in close to her sister near the basket for another layin.

The Indians (20-4) led, 43-37, after three quarters.

Liv DeLong

Things got even better for Amesbury in the first two minutes of the final quarter.  A three by Avery and a left-all-alone layup by Liv DeLong and the Amesbury lead was ten points (48-38).

The margin started feeling a bit comfortable but that comfort was short-lived.

Why?

With five minutes left Amesbury’s 29-point scorer fouled out. Where would the Amesbury offense come from the rest of the way?

Junior Sami Kimball was twice set up for layups, first by Gabby Redford and then by McKenna Hallinan.  After McKenna added two free throws Amesbury had increased its lead (54-43) by a point without Avery and there were less than two minutes left.

Olivia Marion (14 points)

Comfortable lead now?  Hardly!

The team from the Suburban Conference began to drain three’s and send Amesbury to the foul line.

Two of the three-pointers were Kacie Levrault’s (17 points) and the other two came from Alex Jackson and Olivia Marion.

But the Indians had answers.  They made free throws.  In the final 1:44, Amesbury made nine-of-ten from the line.  McKenna was seven-for-eight in the final quarter.

“It was a little nerve-wracking without Avery out there,” said McKenna (10 points). “I was really focusing on my foul shots.”

McKenna Hallinan (10 points) was 7-for-8 from the line in the final quater
Loose ball

“Everyone stepped up without Avery,” said Coach Dollas.  “Maybe doing that will help us in the next game.”

The Tigers ran off twelve unanswered points starting at the end of the first half and extending into the third quarter.  Amesbury’s 19-16 lead turned into a, 28-19, deficit.

This collection of good offense and defense featured three’s by Alex Jackson and Kacie Levrault as well as inside scores by Drew Alley, Talia Uribe, and Kacie Levrault.

Drew Alley (9 points)

“We got beat by a good basketball team,” said South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc afterwards.  “There was a three-minute span where it got dicey.  Some things went against us, and we didn’t turn the tide.”

In fouling out, Avery did get a five-minute rest but it wasn’t one she enjoyed at all.  “It was NOT fun getting a rest,” she said.  “I like being on the court better.  It was stressful.  I think I almost had a heart attack!”

“But my teammates did a great job,” she added.  “McKenna hit some big free throws at the end.”

Liv DeLong: “I’m so proud of our team.  I had to keep my hands down because they were calling a lot of fouls.  I was confident that we’d be okay after Avery fouled out.  We were going to get the win for her.”

Alex Jackson

Gabby Redford: “We played together as a team.  Our defense had to be solid to beat them.  Avery had a very good game, but I was confident that we could do it without her.”

Sami Kimball: “My nerves were going on those layups I had.  I was afraid that I would miss them, but I didn’t.  South Hadley was short but very quick.”

Coach Dubuc: “We’re very proud of our kids.  We’re just sorry that we don’t have another game.”

Coach Dollas: “We had to play with a lot of guts at the end of it.  We just didn’t shoot well for the majority of the game.  We needed all of that ten-point lead at the end.”

Sami Kimball (9 points)

Senior Olivia Marion (14 points) had all of her points in the second half.

The Tigers were very good at running organized offense against Amesbury’s man-to-man defense and turning up quality inside shots.

Amesbury had the size and passing skills to keep South Hadley’s full-court pressure from bothering them too much.

There was plenty of active crowd support for both teams.  And both sides had things to cheer about.

Amesbury   13   6   24   18   =   61

South Hadley   10   13   14   20   =   57

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Gabby Redford
Sami Kimball layup assisted by McKenna Hallinan
Avery Hallinan
Defensive coverage
McKenna Hallinan
Gabby Redford and Talia Uribe
CC Gurek
Angie Bessone
Celebrating a win
Amesbury box
South Hadley box

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Amesbury reaches D4 Final Four with 56-37 win over Hamilton-Wenham

Amesbury reaches the Final Four in Division Four
Avery Hallinan (25 points)

(Haverhill MA) On January 21st, Hamilton-Wenham defeated Amesbury, 51-45.

That result transformed both teams.

The Generals realized that if they played their best, they could knock off a very good team.

For Amesbury, it alerted them to what can happen if they don’t play very well.

This afternoon at Whittier, the Indians were on their game and never gave Hamilton-Wenham a chance.

Jane Maguire (15 points)

Amesbury won, 56-37, and are now in the Division Four Final Four. They will face South Hadley on Tuesday at Framingham at 5PM.

“We thrive on man-to-man defense, but Amesbury is absolutely the worst team for us to try to match up with,” said HW coach Mark Cole afterwards.  “They’re big and they can shoot.”

Senior Avery Hallinan continued her post-season dominance with twenty-five points matching her total in Amesbury’s previous game with Frontier.  In the tourney opener vs Cape Cod Academy, Avery collected thirty-three points.

In transition Avery has been gathering points driving.  In Amesbury’s half-court offense, she has set up down low and feasted on single coverage.

Avery Hallinan in close to the basket with single coverage
AHS coach Gregg Dollas

“Our loss to them earlier made me anxious about this game,” explained AHS coach Gregg Dollas afterwards.  “Our girls, though, always come to play and I knew that they weren’t going to let another loss happen.”

“We said coming in that we can’t get behind,” explained Coach Cole.  “We’ve got to come out of the first quarter even.”

Just the opposite happened.  Amesbury rolled off to a 12-1 lead (14-4 after a quarter) and it was clear that the HW defense was in trouble.

“The big thing was ball movement,” recalled Avery Hallinan.  “In the loss to them, we were forcing too many shots and passes.  Today we worked it in, and we worked it out and got shots from everywhere.”

HW coach Mark Cole

While Avery had a ten-point first quarter, the Amesbury defense concentrated on talented HW senior Jane Maguire.

Jane had five three’s in the win over Amesbury in January.

“We focused on covering the three because that’s their specialty,” said McKenna Hallinan.  “Jane (Maguire) is a great player.  We play her in soccer too.”

Gabby Redford covered Jane most of the game.  “I tried to stop her from getting off three’s,” said Gabby. 

Jane led the Generals (17-6) with fifteen points and did make three 3’s.  However, many of those points came in the second half when Hamilton-Wenham already had a twenty-point deficit.

Avery Hallinan goes baseline

The Indians (19-4) doubled up HW in the second quarter (24-12) on a Liv DeLong triple.

McKenna Hallinan’s two free throws in the third quarter increased the margin to twenty points (44-23) with 1 ½ minutes left in that quarter.

The rest of the game saw bench clearings for both squads.

Junior Sami Kimball had eleven points to go with shot blocks and rebounds.  “It’s such a great moment,” she said, “to get to the Final Four.  I’ve been dreaming about this since I was in middle school.  We learned from our loss to them and really played as a team.”

Kailee Whelan

Liv DeLong added ten points.  “We worked the ball to each other and spread the court.  They had trouble guarding Avery and Sami.”

McKenna: “We focused on getting the ball inside because when we beat them, they couldn’t cover our bigs.”

Coach Dollas: “We played defense from start to finish.  All five of our starters were phenomenal.  Cali (Catarius) came off the bench and held her own.”

McKenna Hallinan

Coach Cole: “The one team I didn’t want to play until the finals was Amesbury.  I think that the winner of today’s game will win the whole thing.”

An active crowd attended supporting their respective schools. 

Amesbury has now won ten of their last eleven games.

HW finished winning ten of their last twelve games.

“If anyone had told me that at the start of the season that we would win seventeen games, I would have told them that they were nuts,” said Coach Cole.  “But we got better and after our Amesbury win, we gained the confidence that took us three rounds into the post-season.  I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”

Amesbury   14   13   19   10   =   56

              HW   4   10   10   13   =   37

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Game ends
Ellie Marden
Michaela DeSimone
Christa Coffey pressured by Avery Hallinan
Gabby Redford
Lily Cassidy
Sadie Gamber and Gabby Redford
Avery Hallinan in alone
Jane Maguire and McKenna Hallinan
Battle for control
Sami Kimball blocks a shot
Final Four banner

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Avery Hallinan (25 points) leads Amesbury past Frontier 50-39 in D4 Round of 16

Avery Hallinan (25 point)
Avery Hallinan drives

(Amesbury MA) Even the referee wanted to know who was covering her!

His reason was that he had given the wrong number at the scorer’s table for the Frontier girl who had committed the foul.

So he asked the Frontier team, “Who was covering #11?”

That was a new one on me.

Avery Hallinan (#11) was the one who was fouled. She was indeed well covered most of the night yet still carried Amesbury to the Round of 8 with her 25-point performance against the Redhawks.

Kylie Laford (14 points)

The final was 50-39.

The Indians (18-4) play Hamilton-Wenham at Whittier on Saturday at 3PM.

The visitors from South Deerfield went down by double figures in the first quarter and briefly recovered.

In the second quarter, Avery’s jump shot (assisted by her sister McKenna) extended the lead back to double figures (19-8).  Frontier couldn’t break inside of ten points the rest of the way.

“We were a little jittery coming off the bus,” said Frontier coach Dave Machon afterwards.  “When we got our feet under us it was a little too late.”

Avery had a sixteen-point first half carrying Amesbury to a 25-12 first half lead.

Liv DeLong (14 points)

Liv DeLong (14 points) started the second half with three consecutive inside scores.  Liv’s strong game around the basket boosted the AHS advantage to nineteen points (31-12) just 1 ½ minutes into the second half.

Credit Frontier.  They “won” the rest of the game with organized offense and better defense.

“They figured out our defense and hit more shots,” said Avery post-game.

Kaitlyn Mackin (13 points)

Frontier senior Kaitlyn Mackin scored eleven of her thirteen points in the second half.

Amesbury’s Sami Kimball was assigned to cover Kaitlyn.  “Coach told me that I had to really clamp her up tonight,” said Sami, “because she’s one of their better players.  She reminded me of Ali (Napoli) because she was tall and tough on the boards.”

“Our first-half defense was everything we practiced,” said AHS coach Gregg Dollas.  “In the second half they were setting screens all over the place and we were getting lost.”

“There weren’t many substitutions,” he added, “so our defense may have had tired legs in the second half.”

Frontier coach Dave Machon

Junior Kylie Laford paced Frontier with fourteen points.  She had two 3’s in the first half.

Going into the game, teams had been averaging only thirty-three points per game against the (17-5) Redhawks.

Amesbury got fifty points.  Avery had half the points.  There were no successful 3’s from Avery.  Tonight, it was drives and free throws with a couple of jump shots in the lane for the Endicott commit.

Avery took on one defender and on several occasions two defenders on her way to inside scores.

McKenna Hallinan

“She was too much to handle tonight,” said Coach Machon referring to Avery.  “She was a huge factor.”

“It feels great to play further than we were able to last year,” said Avery referencing Amesbury’s next game.  “We love Whittier.  We played there our freshman year.  They have the great Bulls’ intro there.”

This was the last Amesbury home game for their talented senior quartet (Avery Hallinan, McKenna Hallinan, Gabby Redford, Liv DeLong) that have keyed years of Indians’ successes.

Gabby Redford

“This is what we’ve been working for since we were freshmen,” said Liv DeLong.  “It is really sad that this is our last game.  We’re made a lot of memories here.”

Amesbury   12   13   15   10   =   50

Frontier         4     8    11   16   =   39

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Kaitlyn Mackin looks for an opening
Kaitlyn Mackin and Sami Kimball
Alena Maes-Polan
Liv DeLong (14 points) and Kaitlyn Mackin (13 points)
Sami Kimball looks for a place to pass
McKenna Hallinan tied up
Avery Hallian shoots through two Redhawks defenders
Avery Hallinan lines up a shot
Scramble on the floor
Kylie Laford (14 points) shoots over Avery Hallinan
Amesbury box
Frontier box

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Amesbury downs Manchester-Essex 58-38

Gabby Redford (22 points)
Avery Hallinan (18 points)

(Amesbury MA) “We couldn’t find the basket and they couldn’t miss,” said Manchester-Essex coach Lauren Dubois.

“We came out on fire,” said Amesbury coach Gregg Dollos.

The Indians (13-3) put the Hornets (3-12) away early and coasted to a, 58-38, win on Tuesday night.

Amesbury played a tight half-court, man-to-man defense and didn’t hesitate to initiate fast breaks.  In their half-court offense, the passes were quick, and the layups and open looks were plentiful.

“We’ve been slowing down and not moving the ball enough lately,” explained senior McKenna Hallinan afterwards.  “We want to pass quickly and get open shots and that’s what we did tonight.”

Amelia Donnellan (7 points)

The Indians got off to an impressive 12-0 lead in the first 4 ½ minutes.  Senior Liv DeLong was the key in the fast start.  Liv nailed a jump shot (from McKenna), a layup (from Avery Hallinan), and then put in a rebound.

Emma Fitzgerald broke the ice for the Hornets and then Amesbury went off on another run of unanswered points.

This time it was fifteen straight.  Avery Hallinan and Gabby Redford did most of the scoring damage for the Indians.

Avery found room in the lane for four layups.  Gabby put in a rebound, connected on a three (from Sami Kimball), and hit a runner in the lane.

Gabby Redford gets in with a left hand

Avery finished the night with eighteen points while Gabby led all scorers with twenty-two points.

“They’re a great team with a lot of weapons on the offensive end,” said ME coach Lauren Dubois.

“They went box-and-one on Avery, but other players scored and then Avery started to score,” recalled Coach Dollos.

“We did what we had to do,” he added.

The two long runs of consecutive offense by Amesbury put them in front, 27-2, early in the second quarter.  The Hornets didn’t have the firepower on this evening to get much closer.  Both coaches substituted liberally thereafter.

McKenna Hallinan

“We have been trying to fix the problems we’ve been having,” said McKenna.  “We want to make fewer mistakes with the playoffs coming up.”

The Indians are in Division 4 and according to the most recent MIAA power ratings are in third place.  The top thirty-two teams make the playoffs.  The higher seeds get the crucial home games in tourney play.

I asked McKenna about her sister reaching 1000 points: “It was great that Avery got 1000.  I got to assist on the basket that she got it on and that was the best part.”

Calista Lai

Coach Dubois: “We wanted to make sure that we were fighting all the way through tonight and we were.”

The Hornets have beaten Swampscott twice and also have a win over Georgetown.

Amesbury has won five straight.

Amesbury   23   19   10   6   =   58

ME                 2    17    9   10   =  38

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Manchester-Essex box
Amesbury box
Manchester-Essex break in
Rebound battle
Amelia Donnellan splits two Amesbury defenders
Cali Catarius
Tight Amesbury defense
Sami Kimball looks to pass
Arm grab in the lane
Mercedes O’Neil
Avery Hallinan layup
Gabby Redford

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