NEWBURYPORT — Free-throw shooting and sloppy fourth-quarter offense proved critical for the Clippers, whose losing streak grew to two at the hands of Triton, whose winning streak grew to three.
It’s a fourth quarter that Newburyport head coach Tom L’Italien and the Clippers undoubtedly want back. Controlling the scoreboard for the majority of the game, the Clippers fell dormant as Triton awoke to take command of the lead and escape with a 46-37 win.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” L’Italien said. “Offensively it was just a struggle for us. A lot has to do with them, but certainly there is a lot we can work on as well, but they played hard. They played with a lot of passion and that’s a great win for Triton.”
After finishing his last game with a triple-double, Newburyport’s Dillon Guthro struggled. Easy shots didn’t seem to fall and free-throw shooting was off. For the experienced senior captain, it was just one of those days. He would finish with 6 points and 5 rebounds in a game where those numbers could easily have been tripled.
“(Guthro) will bounce back,” L’Italien said. “He’s a competitive kid and this is important to him. This isn’t a one person thing, though. We win and lose together. He’s been a big part of what we have done here for three years, so I’m not worried about it.”
Finishing the third quarter with a 32-26 lead, the Clippers were outscored 20-5 in the game’s most pivotal period, surrendering the lead to the Vikings. Also proving costly for Newburyport was their inefficiency from the free-throw line, making just four of 13 foul shots as a team.
Credit the Vikings. Triton head coach David Clay played his starters lengthy minutes knowing they would produce, and he was rewarded for his faith. Leading the way was a 15-point, 3-rebound performance from Corey Parsons, whose two three-point shots in the third quarter worked to swing momentum in his team’s favor.
“They played hard,” Clay said. “They played with a sense of urgency. They wanted this bad.”
Also coming up big for Triton was 6-foot-4 center Ellsworth Rogers, who has the strength and stature of a lineman with the basketball touch of a point guard. Rogers finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds in likely his biggest test of the season facing off against Guthro.
Triton, which began the season 0-2, now sits at 3-2 and looks to be a legitimate force in the Kinney Division.
“It’s one game at a time right now,” Clay said. “We are trying to get better everyday and this is just another day.”
Cam Armand: 6 points, 4 rebounds
Nick Venora: 6 points, 4 rebounds
Bradley Whitman: 7 points, 3 rebounds
Drew Bourdeau: 6 points
Dan Baribeault: 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal
Jeff Martin: 2 points, 8 rebounds
Caleb Stott: 12 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal