BY Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT -- The last time the Newburyport and Masconomet boys basketball teams met last month, it was an all-out battle ending in a 45-35 overtime Masco victory. Last night, the Clippers (12-6 overall, 10-6 CAL) held the home-court advantage and repaid the favor, downing the Chieftains, 62-54.
“It was a great effort by our kids,” said Clippers coach Tom L’Italien. “In the fourth quarter we played really well, where in the past we've broken down and been a little crazy.”
The parity among teams was apparent in the first period as both went up and down until Clipper Ian Michaels broke the stalemate at seven with a 3-pointer followed by two from Adam Traxler. Jake Baribeault checked in next for two followed by a bucket from Matt Canning and Traxler grabbed two from the line to end the period with a 18-8 lead.
Masco (9-10 overall, 8-9 CAL) began chipping away at the Newburyport lead with four unanswered points; then Michaels pulled down another three to start the second period. Masco grabbed four more, followed once again by a Clipper three, this time from Dan Baribeault. Colby Morris hit a bucket for Port before Chris Schleer had a point from the line, then nailed a three, only to be answered by another three from Morris. Masco would then find themselves in a 29-19 hole after a buzzer-beater from Canning.
Masco started the second half off making up for lost time, grabbing four quick points courtesy of Alberto Arenaza de Martinez and then one from the line from Tighe Van Lenten, followed by two more from Martinez. Michaels grabbed a pair next followed by two from fellow co-captain Colt Fontaine. Dan Baribeault hit a three, followed by another from Michaels, who then did it all over again and the Clippers would lead 47-33 at the end of three after a 3-point buzzer-beater from Traxler.
Newburyport kept its foot on the gas through the fourth period, avoiding any late-game breakdowns and won on a night when Michaels had 15 points followed by Guthro who had 11 and Traxler with 10.
“They are hard-working team, they're very well coached,” L'Italien said of Masco. “We needed our best effort and thankfully we got it. I give a lot of credit to our kids, they made a lot of big plays. In the first half, we had seven kids score. I'm very pleased with their effort, their focus, and their attention to detail.”
Chieftains coach Frank Shea said that he knew what his team was in for, but needed to show more urgency.
“Tommy's teams are always very tough with defense,” said Shea. “Newburyport's strength is their defense. So we knew it would be a tough, physical game going in. We missed some opportunities earlier in the game. We came out-of-the-box in the second half, but their kids stepped up. That was probably the story of it. We closed well. We closed with some urgency. But we needed that urgency from the start.”