By Tim Lima
---- — AMESBURY – Last Friday, Amesbury displayed its offensive ability with a league-high 87-point performance against Saugus. Last night, offensive production was their Achilles heal as they fell to Newburyport 52-45.
When asked what his team would focus on this week in practice, Amesbury head coach Tom Comeau’s answer was simple: “offensive execution.”
A prolific offensive performance from last week was replaced with just 45 points, the Indian’s second lowest point total on the season.
“I don’t think (Newburyport) did anything that we weren’t expecting,” Comeau said. “They just hit more shots than us.”
The Clippers scored just two seconds after the opening tipoff and never looked back, beating Amesbury in a game they never trailed.
“The last couple of games we had some tough losses for different reasons,” said Newburyport head coach Tom L’Italien. “But the kids came in and worked hard in practice and believed in one another. It was all about confidence and belief, being consistent on offense and disciplined on defense with an aggressive mindset, and that’s what we did.”
A strong, tone-setting opening quarter for the Clippers was led by junior guard Mike Shay who scored 12 of his teams 21 first quarter points.
“We grabbed him the other day and said ‘You have the green light, man. We want you looking for your offense.’ He gave us a real big bump early. He’s a great player and he works hard so I’m really happy for him.”
The Clippers enjoyed a 31-23 first half lead, though an Amesbury team largely known for its late-game production was far from defeated.
An 11-point lead fell to eight when Amesbury’s Pat Halloran hit from beyond the arc with 1:30 remaining in the game. Just over a minute later, Jack Fortin hit a three of his own and the lead was five with 12 seconds left.
“They have no quit in them whatsoever,” Comeau said. “Theyre a great group of kids who work hard 100 percent of the time.”
Strong performances by Newburyport’s Shay, Dillon Guthro and Adam Traxler would eventually prove too much for the Indians. Shay would finish with 14 points and one rebound. Guthro would finish just three rebounds shy of a double-double with 10 points and seven rebounds. Traxler tallied eight points and two rebounds for the Clippers.
With the win, Newburyport improves their record to 6-4. With the loss, Amesbury falls to 3-7.
“I’m proud of the guys; they worked hard,” L’Italien said. “You get what you deserve in athletics and we worked hard for this one. It was a terrific effort from our guys.”