NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

February 5, 2014

The hardwood road ahead

We have seen plenty of basketball over the month of January and early February, so let’s take a moment to regroup and see where we are and where we may be headed.

The MIAA mandates that playoff-bound teams win 50 percent of their regular season games. With most teams playing a 20-game regular season, this means the number teams shoot for is 10.

On the boys side, the conclusion of the regular season should make for an entertaining two weeks, for only three teams from the CAL have qualified for playoff ball. These teams are Georgetown, Hamilton-Wenham and Manchester Essex. While they have punched their ticket, their role for the final five-or-so games will be the spoiler.

Newburyport

The Clippers are a prime example. Newburyport head coach Tom L’Italien’s team sits at 7-6, tied in league points in the CAL’s Baker Division at 14 with Saugus, Masco and North Reading heading into Tuesday night’s slate of games. While Hamilton-Wenham is already in possession of the division title, the battle for the runner’s-up slot remains anyone’s game.

Newburyport will face Hamilton-Wenham on Tuesday in the hopes of moving closer to its clinching 10th win, though that will take a massive effort to successfully do so. From there, the road doesn’t get much easier.

On Friday, the Clippers will take on the Triton Vikings in a rematch of what was a rough night on the hardwood — a game that Newburyport lost by nine points. Even in a down year and sitting at just 4-10, the Vikings have fallen in eight games by under 10 points.

From there, Newburyport will take on Masco, a team that just three days ago beat the Clippers by 11 points and is sitting at 7-6. They will then travel to Pentucket (6-8) in what is always a close game between two teams who know each other well before concluding the regular season at Saugus (8-9).

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