By Tim Lima
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport girls basketball team survived a sluggish first half and an off-shooting night to beat Manchester Essex last night, 53-43.
“That was not pretty,” Newburyport coach Gregg Dollas said.
It was certainly a first half that he and his team would love to forget. A layup and foul shot with 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter allowed the Clippers to go into the locker room with the lead, though they probably shouldn’t have. The Hornets had far more energy, out-rebounding Newburyport 17-10. Mary Pettigrew was restricted to just four points and two rebounds, while her sister Emily was held to just three points and one rebound. For Dollas, second-half energy was a focal point at halftime.
“We were flat the entire first half and even though we came out in the second half with more energy, we still missed way too many shots,” he said. “That was probably the worst I have seen us shoot all year.”
Despite the poor shooting performance, the Clippers managed to score 53 points in the game, 32 in the second half. Players whom Newburyport has grown accustomed to seeing big games from stepped up in the game’s late quarters. Senior captain Mary Pettigrew tops that list.
“Coach Dollas said before the second half that there had to be one of us who wanted to spark or pick up the team, so I tried my very best to,” Mary Pettigrew said.
Mary Pettigrew finished the night with eight points and six rebounds. Her younger sister, Emily, finished with a team high 17 points and five rebounds. Also stepping up for Newburyport was Aly Leahy with eight points and five rebounds, and Lilly Donovan with nine points and three rebounds.
A strong effort was undoubtedly needed from the Clippers as Manchester Essex sophomore Sydney Christopher exhibited her vast offensive talents with 22 points and one rebound.
“I’m not looking forward to playing her the next couple of years,” Dollas said. “She’s averaging 17 to 18 points per game, so she’s a very good player for them.”
Dollas’ team won’t have long to celebrate their eighth win as the year’s biggest game to date is on the horizon. Masconomet will travel to Newburyport tomorrow night in hopes of extending their record to 8-0 and retaining sole possession of first place in the Cape Ann League’s Kinney Division.
“I think it was very important to get this win tonight,” Mary Pettigrew said. “Masco tomorrow is going to be a challenge. I think we are just as athletic as them and I think we stand a chance against them, so we will see how it goes. It would mean so much to me to beat them.”