By Tim Lima
---- — NEWBURYPORT – The Newburyport girls basketball team rebounded its way to a second win last night, beating Hamilton-Wenham 50-38.
The rebounding effort presented by Newburyport shocked head coach Greg Dollas, who was proud but unaccustomed to seeing his team fight that hard for loose balls.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Dollas said. “I think that they just played tough. I think they had much more toughness today in terms of wanting the ball.”
A strong rebounding effort by his team was led by senior guard Amy Sullivan (8 rebounds), Emily Pettigrew (8) junior forward Morgan Johnston (6) and senior point guard Aly Leahy (6).
When you combine dominating rebounding with several players who can put points on the board, you are likely to have a winning combination. Leading the way offensively for the Clippers was Pettigrew with 15. Working to better her offense was something that Pettigrew dedicated her off season training to.
“(Coach) Dollas told me that (Hamilton-Wenham) have a really good post-defense, and I was prepared to work my best against that,” Pettigrew said. “I have been training really hard at practice. I knew Hamilton-Wenham was a good team, so it was just about coming out and performing.”
Emily Pettigrew is the younger sister of senior captain and four-year varsity player Mary, who finished the game with six points and three rebounds in uncharacteristically quiet fashion.
The Clippers are now 2-0 on the young season, matching a strong effort in their season-opening win against North Reading on Friday.
“Being 2-0 is better than being 0-2 or 1-1,” Dollas said. “It is certainly a great spot to be in so far. Hamilton-Wenham smoked us last year in our first game by 20 something points so we wanted to make sure we protected our home court against them this time. I think our girls came out and played a pretty good, tough defense game. We had some lapses in the second half where they started to get back in the game, but it feels good to be 2-0 rolling into Saugus.”
The scoreboard at the conclusion of the Newburyport effort did not do his team justice, for this game was dominated by the Clippers from the get-go. Seventeen of the game’s first 19 points were owned by Newburyport, who set the tone early and controlled an up-to 19 point lead before utilizing strong defense to preserve their lead. The closest Hamilton-Wenham would get in the contest was nine.
The Clippers now must direct their attention to Saugus tomorrow. The postponement of Tuesday’s game to Wednesday due to has created a short turnaround for Newburyport. Following Saugus is the Institution for Savings Tournament, a holiday competition hosted by the Clippers. Nothing would make Coach Dollas happier than for his team to head into the tournament 3-0 and leave it 5-0 with a championship under their belt.