By Gianna Addario
---- — TOPSFIELD — If the Masconomet girls basketball team didn’t feel the pressure against Pentucket last Monday night, it most definitely felt it last night against Newburyport.
The undefeated Chieftains faced their largest halftime deficit of the season, down by 10 at the break. A fourth quarter push, however, was the difference as Masco got the better of Newburyport, 56-48.
The victory, the Chieftains’ 16th of the season, not only keeps their perfect record intact, it also gives them their first Cape Ann League Large championship title since 2008.
“This is just a good win for us, it keeps us going in the right direction,” said coach Bob Romeo. “It was nice that we were able to get the CAL title on Senior Night. That was one of our preseason goals. Our five seniors, Nicole Femino, Hannah Kiernan, Lexi Nason, Janelle Shea and Megan Letvinchuk — it’s a credit to them. They weren’t going to let this not happen.”
Newburyport (12-6) led 42-36 at the end of the third quarter. The Chieftains had no answer for Morgan Johnston and Mary Pettigrew, who combined for 13 points in the quarter.
It was a different situation in the fourth, however, as Femino made two free throws to tie the game at 44 all with four minutes to play. Newburyport turned the ball over on the next possession and Kiernan was able to bury a three.
The Newburyport girls basketball team has been in this type of situation many times this season. The Clippers had a substantial lead against undefeated Masconomet last night, but a fourth-quarter rally by the host Chieftains doomed Newburyport.
Newburyport held a 10-point lead at halftime, but the Chieftains found a way down the stretch en route to a 56-48 victory.
“I think we’ve had four games like this one this season and on all four of them we’ve been on the losing end,” said Newburyport head coach Greg Dollas. “It’s unfortunate to lose those games, but it’s nice to see the girls continue to fight throughout.”
Morgan Johnston had eight of her 11 points in the third quarter to keep the lead intact for the Clippers. Masco was able to cut to with six points by the end of the third quarter, despite two back-to-back baskets by Mary Pettigrew down the stretch.
Masconomet took its first lead since the first quarter with four minutes to play in the game. The Chieftains finished out the fourth on 20-6 advantage, which earned them the win and the Cape Ann League championship for the first time since 2008.
“Ten points isn’t a big lead against Masco,” added Dollas. “It’s hard to keep Masco down. The lead is never safe with the way they can hit threes. We had a lead, they would clamp down on us. It’s just about finishing mentally and physically. I think the difference was that they hit about 25 free throws.”
Mary Pettigrew and her sister Emily each finished with a team-high 12 points, while Alyssa Leahy chipped in with nine.
Masconomet 56, Newburyport 48 Newburyport: Leahy 3-2-9, Brendan 1-0-2, E Pettigrew 3-5-12, Johnston 4-3-11, Triandafilou 1-0-2, M Pettigrew 6-0-12. 18-10-48 Masconomet: Collins 0-6-6, Femino 5-5-16, Kiernan 7-10-24, Kitsakos 0-5-5, Fogarty 1-0-3, Mini 1-0-2. 14-26-56 Halftime: N, 28-18 3's: N, Leahy, E Pettigrew; M, Femino, Fogarty. Records: M, 16-0; N, 12-6.