NEWBURYPORT — Though they struggled a bit offensively, the Newburyport girls basketball team made up for it on the defensive side by holding the Manchester Essex Hornets to single digits in every quarter and carving out a 49-28 victory Saturday night in the championship round of the 10th annual Institution For Savings Girls Holiday Basketball Tournament at Newburyport High.
On the strength of 10 first-quarter points, including a basket from beyond the arc from sophomore forward Emily Pettigrew (a game-high 15), the Clippers jumped out to a 16-6 lead after one period. From there, the visiting Hornets never got closer than nine points, as their deficit remained in the double-digit range for most of the night.
Newburyport (5-0 on the season) advanced to the title game with a 37-point first-round triumph over Triton, while the Hornets, now 3-2, knocked off last year’s tourney-winner Ipswich to gain a spot in the final.
“I thought we played good defense at times. (Manchester Essex) is extremely well-coached and disciplined, with all their screens and picks,” said Newburyport head coach Gregg Dollas. “Our girls did a good job of fighting through those. We did our best to make sure we held them down, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
Despite netting just nine points in the second quarter themselves, the Clippers still went into halftime with a comfortable 25-14 lead. After a layup by Hornet guard Sydney Christopher opened the scoring in the second half, Newburyport went on an 11-0 run to pretty much seal things, outscoring Manchester Essex 13-5 in the third period and leading 38-19 heading into the final stanza.
Forward Morgan Johnston was instrumental in the Newburyport surge, collecting eight of her 12 points over the final two periods and hauling down nine rebounds for the game. Senior Mary Pettigrew finished with four points and eight boards while Aly Leahy (five points) and Abbie Bresnahan (six points) were strong in the backcourt.