By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Newburyport coach Tom L’Italien could sense this one well before the final buzzer ended a disappointing night.
The ninth-year Clipper coach has been around long enough to know better than to let a struggling Cape Ann League foe hang around. The Clippers (6-5) dropped a CAL matchup to Lynnfield at home last night, 46-43.
The Pioneers (7-7) now have a chance to jump above .500 for the first time all season tomorrow at Hamilton-Wenham.
“I wasn’t happy with our sense of urgency in the first half,” Newburyport coach Tom L’Italien said. “I felt like we played the game the way (Lynnfield) wanted to play the game. The league is too well-coached, and too many teams play hard to not be ready to compete for 32 minutes.”
Despite Newburyport’s slow start, the Clippers were in prime position to pull out the win with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Dan Baribeault hit the first of two free-throw attempts to put the Clippers up 40-36, and Lynnfield was in the penalty with eight fouls to Newburyport’s five.
Baribeault missed the second free throw, and Newburyport did not earn another trip to the line for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Lynnfield went on an 8-0 run spanning 2:35, leaving the Clippers trailing 44-40 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Baribeault buried a long 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds remaining to close the Lynnfield lead to 44-43, but the Clippers had to foul on the inbounds pass, and Pioneers captain Traverse Briana iced the game with two free throws. Newburyport did not get off a shot before the final buzzer.
“It was a hard-fought game, and we knew it would be going in,” L’Italien said. “I thought we could have played better, but a lot of that had to do with Lynnfield. They’re well-coached, and they play hard.”
Newburyport held an advantage on the glass, due in large part to the play of senior center Dillon Guthro, who collected 10 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. Baribeault’s 13 points were a team-high for the Clippers. Mike Shay and Adam Traxler had five points each for Newburyport.
Brendan Sullivan paced Lynnfield with 15 points, none bigger than the two free throws he hit to put the Pioneers up 44-40 with 15 seconds remaining. Adam Buchanan, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward, scored 13 points, causing mismatch problems for Newburyport on the perimeter.
Newburyport has lost three of its last four games after starting 5-2. The Clippers have been a tough team to figure through the first half. They have wins over the CAL leaders in each division — Manchester Essex (9-3) and Hamilton-Wenham (10-2). But they also have losses against Saugus (6-9) and Triton (3-8).
Lynnfield 46, Newburyport 43
at Newburyport High
Lynnfield: Brendan Sullivan 5-2-15; Adam Buchanan 4-4-13; Traverse Briana 1-3-6; Paul Pasciuto 2-2-6; Thomas Kearney 1-0-3; Jake McHugh 1-0-3. Totals: 14-11-46.
Newburyport: Dan Baribeault 5-1-13; Dillon Guthro 4-2-10; Mike Shay 2-0-5; Adam Traxler 1-2-5; Drew Bourdeau 2-0-4; Jake Berger 0-3-3; Ronnie Mwai 0-2-2; Jeff Martin 0-1-1. Totals 14-10-43.
3-pointers: L — Sullivan 3, Briana 1, Kearney 1, McHugh 1, Buchanan 1; N — Baribeault 2, Shay 1, Traxler 1.
Rebounds: L — Buchanan 8; N — Guthro 17.
Records: L — 7-7; N — 6-5.