NEWBURYPORT – The Newburyport girls varsity basketball team faces its toughest test of the season tonight, as the Clippers hit the road to play top seeded Watertown in the Division II North quarterfinal.
Watertown comes in with a nearly spotless 19-1 record, with the lone blemish coming in a 56-54 loss to Wilmington on Jan. 14. Newburyport head coach Gregg Dollas said Watertown would be a big challenge for his team, but added that he’s confident in his team’s chances and is looking forward for the opportunity to upset one of the state’s best teams.
“I think it’s going to be nice to see what we can do going in as an underdog,” Dollas said.
The Clippers (14-7) will have plenty of momentum going into tonight’s matchup, especially after Tuesday’s thrilling double-overtime victory over Marblehead in the first round of the tournament.
Newburyport found itself playing catchup for most of the game, especially in the second half when it seemed as if every time the Clippers made a run, the Magicians answered with a couple quick baskets of their own.
The Clippers finally tied the score with 30 seconds left after senior Mary Pettigrew hit a jumper to force overtime, and once in overtime senior captain Aly Leahy hit two monstrous threes, one to tie the game and force a second overtime, and the other to give Newburyport the lead for good.
“I think everyone knew we needed to step up,” Leahy said after the game. “It happened to be me and Mary tonight, but everyone contributed and it was really a team effort all around.”
“The seniors didn’t want it to be our last game,” Pettigrew added. “We really didn’t want it to be.”
Newburyport wound up winning 54-51, and while Leahy’s two threes overshadowed what was otherwise an underwhelming performance, Dollas said he was impressed by his senior’s ability to recognize what wasn’t working and adjust her game accordingly.