This time last year, the Newburyport girls basketball team’s post-season run barely made it out of the starting gate, as the Clippers were blown out by No. 7 Bedford 50-27 in the first round of the Division III North tournament.
Fast-forward to 2014. Newburyport coach Greg Dollas said his team has moved past that and he feels confident that this year could be a totally different story for the Clippers.
“I don’t think they have any of that in the back of their mind,” Dollas said. “They don’t really operate that way. This team is really good about looking ahead.”
Newburyport (13-7) is set to open its tournament tonight against No. 9 Marblehead (12-8) in the first round of the Division II North tournament. This will mark the Clippers’ fourth consecutive postseason appearance, and Dollas said his team has the potential to make a serious run.
“I think that we have the potential to play extremely well and if we do that, we could actually go far,” Dollas said. “We really want to win tomorrow night and have a good home crowd.”
While Newburyport has not played Marblehead this season, Dollas said his team has seen them play, and the two teams did face off against one another two seasons ago. Dollas said he knows who some of their best players are, but his concern is more about whether his own players show up.
The same will likely be true for the Pentucket boys basketball team (10-10), which opens its postseason tonight against an unfamiliar Bedford team (5-15).
Pentucket enters the postseason with some serious momentum. The Sachems won each of their last three games to qualify for the postseason, and after playing for their lives for the better part of two weeks, the team can now boast plenty of experience playing under pressure.
Another team that qualified for the tournament late in the season was the Amesbury hockey team (8-8-4), who opens tonight against Danvers (10-9-1) at the Chelmsford Arena in the program’s first tournament appearance since 2006.
Amesbury punched its ticket to the postseason in dramatic fashion last Monday, when the Indians rallied from a two-goal deficit late to tie Marblehead in the first round of the Newburyport Bank Tournament.
Though the tie was enough to push Amesbury over the top by itself, the day became even more memorable after the Indians topped the Magicians in a shootout. Sophomore Nick Corcoran channeled his inner T.J. Oshie to score the game-winning goal in the shootout, making the most of his second appearance on the ice all season.
“All the effort and all the work they put in during the offseason came down to today,” said Amesbury coach Chris Kuchar after the game. “I’m happy for all the kids for the effort that they put in during the offseason to make themselves bigger, faster and stronger, and now it paid off.”
The fourth team making its postseason debut tonight will be the Georgetown boys basketball team, which finished the season 15-5 and will host No. 13 Winthrop in the first round of the Division IV North tournament.
All four of tonight’s games are scheduled to begin at 7, and the three basketball games will be played locally at Newburyport, Pentucket and Georgetown high schools respectively.
Girls Basketball Newburyport vs. Marblehead Newburyport High School, 7 p.m. Boys Basketball Pentucket vs. Bedford Pentucket High School, 7 p.m. Georgetown vs. Winthrop Georgetown High School, 7 p.m. Ice Hockey Amesbury vs. Danvers Chelmsford Arena, 7:10 p.m.