NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport girls basketball team defeated Marblehead 54-51 in double overtime last night to advance to the MIAA Division II North quarterfinals.
After trailing most of the game, Newburyport tied the game late in regulation to force overtime, and then was propelled to the next round by senior captain Aly Leahy, who hit a season-saving three-pointer to force double overtime, and then another three to give the Clippers the lead for good.
Marblehead maintained a 17-13 lead at halftime, and Newburyport found itself playing catchup for most of the second half. Seemingly every time the Clippers made a run, the Magicians answered with a couple of baskets to stretch the lead back to four or five points.
First, Newburyport junior Shelby O’Brien hit a deep two to make it 31-28, but then Magicians got a quick basket from McKenna Barrett and then immediately stole the ball back and got a fast break score from Emily Freedland, making it a seven point game with four minutes to play.
Still down six points with less than two minutes remaining, Mary Pettigrew nailed a three from the corner to make it a one-possession game, and after Marblehead missed its next attempt, Emily Pettigrew was fouled going to the basket and hit one of two free throws to close the gap to two.
Barrett then got called for traveling, giving the Clippers a chance to tie the game. Emily Pettigrew missed the game-tying shot on the other end, but after a quick steal on the next Marblehead possession, the ball found its way into Mary Pettigrew’s hand, and then promptly through the net.
With the score tied at 39-39 with 30.3 left on the shot clock, Newburyport just needed to make one stop to have a chance to win the game or force overtime. An errant shot wound up in the hands of freshman Lindsay Walker, who was fouled going up and went to the line for two shots. Walker missed them both, giving Newburyport a chance to win the game with 11 seconds to play.
After Newburyport was unable to get a quality shot off, the two teams went to overtime knotted at 39-39.
Once in overtime, Emily Pettigrew hit a three from the corner to give the Clippers a lead, but Walker subsequently hit a contested basket and the ensuing free throw to tie it up. The two teams traded baskets again, and finally Marblehead landed what was expected to be the killing blow when Freedland drained a three from the corner to put the Magicians up 47-44 with 30 seconds left.
Quiet all game, senior captain Aly Leahy finally stepped up and made her presence felt. Leahy hit a season-saving three-pointer from straight away to tie it at 47-47 and send the game to a second overtime.
Newburyport jumped out to a quick lead in the second overtime, and after trading baskets for a few minutes, the Clippers pulled ahead again after Leahy hit another three with about a minute and a half to play.
After Jaycie Triandafilou stole the ball on the ensuing possession, Morgan Johnston got to the line and hit one of her two free throws to extend the Clippers’ lead to 53-51.
The Clippers defense held strong, and after Leahy hit a free throw with 13.6 seconds left, Marblehead was forced to take a long three to tie it, which fell short.
The game started off a physical and low-scoring affair, and while neither team was able to put many points on the board early on, Newburyport was able to consistently grab offensive rebounds and draw contact while driving to the hoop.
Marblehead was called for six fouls before Newburyport had been called for its first, and by the end of the first half the Clippers owned a 19-7 advantage on the boards. Despite this, Newburyport couldn’t convert on most of its opportunities and only held a 7-5 lead after the first quarter.
Once the second quarter began, Marblehead’s offense started to get going. The Magicians opened the quarter on a 6-0 run, and Newburyport’s first points of the quarter didn’t come until Mary Pettigrew hit a pair of free throws nearly three minutes into the quarter.
The star for Newburyport early on proved to be sophomore forward Emily Pettigrew, who scored each of the Clippers last two baskets before halftime and finished the half with five rebounds.
Emily Pettigrew finished the game with 20 points and 9 rebounds, Mary Pettigrew had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Leahy had 9 points and 4 rebounds.
With the win, Newburyport will now advance to face No. 1 Watertown (19-1) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 7 p.m.