By Jim Sullivan
---- — BEDFORD — The 10th-seeded Newburyport girls’ basketball team (11-10) made the stormy drive to Bedford last night with high hopes but had a quiet ride home after falling 50-27 to the seventh-seeded Buccaneers (14-7) in the Division 3 North state tournament.
“The missed shots, the turnovers and the tingly hands were just a little too much for us tonight,” said Newburyport Clippers coach Gregg Dollas. “I don’t know if it was nerves, or if they just couldn’t calm their energy.”
Newburyport started the evening off well when Mary Pettigrew sank the first two points from the paint, followed by a match from Bedford’s Olivia MacLellan. Buccaneer Kristen Bullock had a steal next for a layup and teammate Alaina Greaney had two from the line, followed by a bucket from Samantha Cowan.
A three-pointer from Bullock at the 4-minute mark gave Bedford a commanding nine-point lead and they would end the first period with a 18-6 advantage.
Bedford greeted the second period with six unanswered points before freshman Emily Pettigrew sank a pair of free throws, followed by the same from Lea Tomasz. But Bullock answered with another three before MacLellan ended the period with one of her own to put the Clippers in a 30-10 hole at the half.
The Clippers started the third period with a much-improved defense that would allow Lilly Donovan and Ali Leahy to grab five quick unanswered points and Leahy would have two from the line in between a Bedford bucket.
With three minutes to go in the period, Dollas put in a smaller lineup that resulted in two more points from Amy Sullivan. But the Buccaneers gained another two points and would exit the period up, 38-19.
Facing a 19-point deficit with eight minutes to go in their season, the Clippers kept fighting with buckets from Leahy, Mary Pettigrew and Jaycie Triandafilou before the buzzer would put their season to bed.
“We have a tendency to let teams hit their threes on us,” said Dollas. “That seems to be a theme. We knew their sets, we knew how to cover them, but they hit their shots. They played well. We played well, kind of, too. We just couldn’t catch the ball. We need some extra stick-’em.”
After starting the season with only 11 varsity players, these Clippers began adding girls from junior varsity and grew from there under the supervision of seniors Tomasz, Casey Barlow and Rebecca Kell.
“We were all pretty close, we were all friends,” Tomasz said of her squad. “We all learned how to play with each other.”
“It was a really good season and I don’t think anyone ever gave up,” said Kell. “We were always very motivated to work hard and our best. We never gave up in any of our games.”