NEWBURYPORT — Newburyport (13-6) and Pentucket (11-5) have played some instant classic-caliber high school games over the past two seasons, five in all, with Newburyport holding a one-point margin in the lot (264-263).
The Sachems, however, now hold the lead in the series 3-2 after a stirring Pentucket fourth-quarter rally that saw the team overcome a six-point deficit and hold the Clippers to just five points in the fourth quarter in the Sachems win, 55-48.
Newburyport led for most of the game and in fact did not give up its lead until midway through the fourth quarter when Corey McNamara (22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) made his first bucket of the second half, a layup, for the lead, 47-45.
McNamara, who was red hot, scoring 17 first-half points, had to duel with his Clipper counter-part Colby Morris (22 points, 3 rebounds), who could not miss to start the game, scoring Newburyport's first 11 points and having a team-high 17 first-half points. But the two combo guards cooled off in the second half and the game became a battle of which team could be more effective inside.
For a while Newburyport's Brett Fontaine (15 points, 3 rebounds) looked as if he were going to be the one to stamp his imprint on the game, burying a deep three-pointer with only four seconds remaining in the third quarter to stake the Clippers to their biggest lead, 43-37. However, Will Angelini (game-high 24 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block) would not let Pentucket slip away, going on a personal 8-2 run against Newburyport to start the fourth quarter and tie the game at 45.
After McNamara's layup, Nolan Dragon made a pair of free throws to put Pentucket up four, but Fontaine hit a spectacular acrobatic bucket with the harm and hit his free throw to bring the Clippers back within one, 49-48. However, despite cooling off and missing many long-distance attempts in the second half, McNamara was clutch when he had to be nailing an NBA-range three with about a minute to go to all-but ice the game for the Sachems. Three more free throws accounted for Pentucket's final margin of victory.