NEWBURYPORT – A sluggish beginning for the Clippers gave way to a dominant conclusion as Newburyport girls basketball downed North Reading 57-33.
It was a rematch of the season-opener for Newburyport (11-4) and a true test of growth over the span of 14 games.
“We are a different team now,” said Clippers head coach Gregg Dollas. “We have gone through a rut these past few games and struggled offensively. Today we did a reset in our brains and the girls came through offensively.”
Scoring just seven points in the first quarter, only Newburyport’s Emily Pettigrew and Aly Leahy could find any sort of rhythm. In fact, it wasn’t until 5:17 remaining in the second quarter that any other Clipper tallied a point or gathered a rebound.
“Last game neither of them took shots and today they shot the ball with confidence,” Dollas said. “They’re great leaders for us.”
Then, nearly simultaneously, players wearing a white jersey other than number one or 10 came alive for Newburyport.
The Clippers outscored North Reading 22-6 in the second quarter to take a commanding 29-17 lead into halftime. While Pettigrew and Leahy combined for 16 of the Clippers 29 first half points, Mary Pettigrew also finished the second quarter strong with seven points.
From there, the Clippers didn’t look back, outscoring the Hornets 34-16 in the game’s final two quarters.
“I think it’s huge for us,” Dollas said. “With these next games being against teams like Hamilton-Wenham, Masconomet and Pentucket, we really had to play well tonight and I thought these girls represented Newburyport basketball well. Even though we got down early, nobody got really crazy on us which was nice to see.”
The Hornets also had a tough night shooting, though it didn’t diminish as the game progressed. Only North Reading’s Morgan Maiola scored more than four points,, finishing the game with 16 points and three rebounds.