Things continued on par at the beginning of the fourth period, perhaps lulling Newburyport into that false sense of complacency. But the personal fouls on the Clippers’ part would begin adding up, allowing the Generals to come within two late in the game. Then Eagar would tie things up with a little over a minute to go.
Michaels caught a foul, and James Foye (22 points) would put the Generals up one. Two more points from the line would be all Hamilton-Wenham would need to win the night. But they got two more at the line for the five-point lead.
“I think the kids have got to search within themselves,” said L’Italien. “We challenged them at halftime and they responded. But it’s a mental thing with us that’s just not acceptable. With that being said, Hamilton-Wenham played great. It was a hard-fought game. They made a few more plays than we did down the stretch. And they deserve the credit. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to be more mentally prepared. And ultimately, that is what our focus is going to be these next couple of weeks.”
“We knew it was going to be a war coming in here,” said Generals coach Doug Hoak. “They play a tough defense, and we play pretty good defense. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be a pretty game.”
Now in second place in the division, Hoak was happy to clinch a state tournament berth with this victory as well.
“We had two teams battling it out defensively, and that is how it went,” said Hoak. “It’s just we made some plays down the stretch. They are tough, they go to the boards hard. We’re not that big, it’s just our kids just stepped up really well. We played well down the stretch. It was a great game.”