NEWBURYPORT — They can get complacent.
Coming into last night at 8-5, the Newburyport boys basketball team hosted Hamilton-Wenham a night early to avoid conflict with the upcoming storm. But it was inside the gym that the real sparks flew late in the game when the Clippers (10-6 overall, 8-6 CAL) looked to have things wrapped up with three minutes to go, but the Generals (9-7 overall, 9-5 CAL) took advantage of Newburyport’s whopping nine fouls to walk away with the 49-44 upset.
“We just didn’t look like we were ready to play,” said Clippers coach Tom L’Italien. “And it’s truly disappointing at this time of the year.”
The evening started a battle with the Clippers’ Colt Fontaine getting his team on the board for two, followed by teammate Colby Morris’ (14 points) first 3-pointer of the night. But the Generals kept up the pace, hanging a point or two behind, and tying things at 10 with a little over a minute to go in the period.
Offense was at a premium as the defenses of both teams continued to be impressive at the start of the second quarter. And for each bucket the Generals sank, the Clippers would do the same. Clipper Ian Michaels (12 points) broke through the muddle at the mid point, racking up six consecutive points, three of those in one heave. Michaels’ fellow co-captain Fontaine grabbed two at the line next, and Morris did the same. Jake Baribeault grabbed two himself to open things up, followed by a pair from Michaels. The Clippers would sail into to half enjoying a 28-24 lead.
The Clippers started the second half off with a 3-pointer from Morris, and the defenses took over, resulting in three scoreless minutes. General Henry Eagar (11 points) broke the stalemate with two from the line, only to be answered with a three from Newburyport’s Dan Baribeault and two more from brother Jake. The Clippers would keep things up behind their heavy defense to open up a 39-32 lead headed into the fourth.