NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

December 26, 2012

Holiday tournaments for River Rival girls teams

Pentucket heads to Maine; Port and Triton play in Ipswich

(Continued)

“Some teams have gone up there and taken the air out of the ball and stalled a little bit, so that’s different,” McNamara said. “For a team like us that plays a lot of defense, it’ll be interesting to see how it goes 35 seconds in, 40 seconds in and the girls are looking around like what’s going on.

“We’re going to play our normal style and we’ll see how it works against teams that try to hold the ball a little longer,” continued the Pentucket coach. “It’ll be a contrast of styles and a big challenge.”

Meanwhile, Triton’s Karen Christian and Newburyport’s Gregg Dollas will get to rehash their annual coach versus former assistant rivalry.

Both teams are in a bit of transition this season trying to develop younger players — the Vikings more so than the Clippers. Triton has struggled mightily on offense in its first four games, averaging only 20 points per game, but hope to get a lift with the return from injury of Hannah Canning and Jessica Greaney.

“Hopefully those two will give us a little more offense,” coach Christian said. “We’re young and struggling, but we played a great first half against Pentucket last night. If we can bring that kind of defense every night, we’ll be OK.

“I think just having a good showing against Cape Ann League teams is going to be huge,” Christian said. “The girls just need to understand the work they’re doing is going to pay off, and certainly a good showing in the tournament would help their confidence as they progress through the season.”

Dollas and the Clippers have had to cope primarily with the loss of 1,000-point scorer Beth Castantini. Against Hamilton-Wenham Friday night, Newburyport was outgunned, 56-44.

“We’re looking forward to our next game to improve upon our last game — we had a difficult night last night,” Dollas said. “We’d like to have a strong game against Triton and play the winner of Ipswich and Manchester Essex, which Ipswich is a favorite and I think we’re also a favorite, too. I think if Ipswich and us are paired on Friday, it’s going to be a very big challenge for us because I think they’re the ultimate favorites. They’ve shown to be a very strong team in all aspects, (so far this year).”

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