By Dan Guttenplan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport basketball team needed every bit of its depth last night in its second overtime game in a row.
The Clippers (9-4) found strength in numbers in a 66-61 overtime victory over Lynnfield (8-6) at Newburyport High. The victory came on the heels of a 66-64 overtime loss to Georgetown Friday evening, a loss that gave the Clippers all the more incentive to hold off the Pioneers last night.
Lynnfield overcame a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit thanks to 30 points from senior captain Patrick Kearney. Newburyport appeared to be on the ropes in overtime, when in the first two minutes of the four-minute extra period, starting center Dillon Guthro and starting guard Adam Traxler fouled out.
That left the Clippers particularly short-handed since starting forward Ian Michaels was already sidelined with an illness, and sixth man Matt Canning missed the game due to a pulled hamstring. With both teams in the bonus at the free throw line in overtime, the Clippers took advantage of their chances, pulling away for a five-point win.
Newburyport senior forward John Baribeault was at the center of the momentum-turning sequence in overtime. With 1:30 remaining, Baribeault gathered a pass under the basket, and went up for a contested lay-up to give the Clippers a 60-57 lead. After a Newburyport defensive stop, Baribeault earned a trip to the line and connected on both free throws, stretching the Newburyport lead to 62-57. The Pioneers never closed to within three points for the remainder of overtime.
“We’ve said since the beginning of the year we have a lot of depth,” Newburyport coach Tom L’Italien said. “Tonight, we needed it. Both teams looked exhausted, it’s a shame one team had to lose.”
The Clippers dominated in the paint and on the glass. Senior Colton Fontaine (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Dillon Guthro (17 points, 8 rebounds) combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds. Baribeault also played quality minutes off the bench, tallying 11 points, six of which came in overtime.
Fontaine has arguably been the CAL’s top post player all season. He has double-digit rebounds in 11 of Newburyport’s 13 games, and he has recorded 18 rebounds in a game twice.
“It’s part of my game,” Fontaine said. “I work my hardest because it isn’t always my role to score. Tonight, I got mine, but I always look to get rebounds first.”
Newburyport will be tested again Friday when it visits undefeated North Reading (14-0).
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us,” L’Italien said. “Hopefully this will spark us for the last two or three weeks.”