By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Dec. 12, 2112 was not the end of the world after all, but it was not a good night for the Newburyport girls basketball team — as the Clippers (2-1) were handed their first loss of the young season decisively at home by Hamilton-Wenham, 56-44.
“We didn’t play,” Newburyport coach Gregg Dollas simply said. “I don’t think we even showed up in the game that much.”
Indeed, the night was not much of a contest for the Generals (3-1) as they broke away early in the first quarter with a 7-point run that bloated the score from 16-11 to 23-11. Then, they didn’t look back, carried by big nights from senior Cassandra Fibbe (18 points, 7 rebounds) and junior Haley Willis (11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) to lead the Clippers 39-22 at the half.
“They pulled away early and it was a matter of us just not playing defense,” Dollas said. “Our defense was not even existent tonight. It really wasn’t. If we don’t have any defense, we don’t have anything. People weren’t moving their feet. They let girls beat them off the ball. You can not be beat off the dribble and that’s what we did. We were beat off the dribble all night and we didn’t break the press.”
The second half was no better for the Clippers as the Generals executed excellent clock-management skills, going five full minutes without scoring a point and not having to worry about anything other than some last-minute gift shopping.
“We play an up-tempo style and try to keep the pressure up the whole game,” Generals coach Jon DeMarco said. “We played really well in the first half defensively. We were getting to the ball, tracking, trapping them and it worked out well for us. We played really well defensively in the second half as well. I believe we might have held them to less points in the second half.”
DeMarco said he knows he has a young team and is looking to keep them learning along the way.
“We were just trying to take care of the basketball and it’s a real learning experience for us” DeMarco said. “We have a lot of young girls. A lot of juniors and sophomores on the team, some without varsity experience, so every game we play is learning and we try not to turn it over in the end. “
“In the end, they played hard,” DeMarco said of the Clippers. “They’re a good team. They’re physical, they’re aggressive, they don’t quit, so I give them a lot of credit, too.”
With Christmas fast approaching, Dollas doesn’t see any silent nights coming for his team anytime soon.
“I think that we have a lot of work to do to improve,” Dollas said. “We’ll take the mistakes and we’ll learn from this game and continue forward with the process that we need to do and go from there. One game doesn’t make your season.”
Sophomore Mary Pettigrew led the Clippers in scoring with 14 points and 6 rebounds, followed by her sister, freshman Emily (10 points, 3 rebounds), while Lilly Donovan had 8 points on the night.