By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport’s state tournament celebration will have to wait at least a few more days, as the boys basketball team lost a tough one to Masconomet 45-43 on Senior Night.
Newburyport overcame a slow start to make a competitive game that went down to the wire. After the teams finished the third quarter tied 35-35, Masconomet pulled ahead and forced Newburyport to play catchup for the rest of the way. Ultimately, Newburyport wasn’t able to make the last big shot it needed to win.
“We battled — it was a battle with two competitive teams. We knew it was going to be a battle. They made a couple more shots down the stretch. The kids are disappointed, and they should be because they put a lot into it, but we just needed to make a shot here and there and get a stop here or there,” said Clippers coach Tom L’Italien.
The closest Newburyport came to retaking the lead came with about a minute left to play, when senior captain Drew Bourdeau got to the line for two free throws down 41-39. Bourdeau hit the first to make it 41-40, but missed the second.
Seconds later, Masconomet’s Jackson Latimer made Newburyport pay when he made a deep three to give the Chieftains a four-point lead with 44 seconds to go.
Newburyport junior Mike Shay answered shortly after with a three of his own to cut the deficit to 45-43, and when Latimer missed a chance to put the game away at the line, Newburyport got a chance to win the game on the last shot.
Masconomet’s defense held strong on the last possession, however, and sophomore guard Dan Baribeault missed what would have been the game-winning three-pointer, clinching the win for the Chieftains.
“It’s kind of funny. You look up at the scoreboard and you lose by two. If you make a couple of plays and find a way to win, you walk out of here feeling great about yourself, so we’ll take the positives from it and get back to practice and be ready to compete on Friday,” L’Italien said.
Latimer was the game’s leading scorer, recording 18 points, including 12 points in the second half and what turned out to be the game-wining three. Masconomet junior guard Jake Rudolph scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds to help pace the Chieftains offense.
Newburyport senior forward Dillon Guthro was the leading scorer for Newburyport, recording a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and Shay added 10 points of his own.
With the win, Masconomet improves to 9-7 on the season, while Newburyport falls to 8-8 with two games to play. Newburyport can still clinch a state tournament berth with a win over Pentucket on Friday or Saugus next Tuesday.
NEWBURYPORT Dillon Guthro: 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks Mike Shay: 10 points Drew Bourdeau: 8 points, 1 rebound MASCONOMET Jackson Latimer: 18 points Jake Rudolph: 11 points, 5 rebounds