Sports in a Minute: Newburyport basketball debuts in Boston Globe's Top 20 poll

BRYAN EATON/Staff photoCasey McLaren and the Newburyport boys basketball team are ranked No. 20 in the Boston Globe’s latest Top 20 poll.

Port in the polls

With Monday’s thrilling 57-54 win over Pentucket, the Newburyport boys basketball team moved into first place in the Cape Ann League. Not only that, but it also propelled the Clippers into the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll for the first time this season. The 11-1 Clippers debuted in the rankings at No. 20 on Tuesday, coming in as the only CAL team ranked and one of just a handful of other Division 3 squads. Undefeated Brookline remains No. 1, while St. Mary’s, Lynn English, Lowell and Lawrence round out the top five. Newburyport will test itself at Lowell on Feb. 2 and faces B.C. High on Wednesday. There will also be a second meeting with Pentucket near the end of the season, and the hope is those games will ultimately prepare the Clippers for a potential date with St. Mary’s in the state tournament.

Spartans smash

Speaking of St. Mary’s, Monday the Spartans had a chance to test themselves against another top contender for the Division 3 state title, and... let’s just say they passed. No. 2 ranked St. Mary’s obliterated No. 19 Burke High School, the defending Division 3 South champion and a favorite to repeat this winter, by a score of 81-43.

St. Mary’s got 23 points from Jalen Echevarria and 16 points from Joey Abate-Walsh, and while Burke was shorthanded without standout point guard Devante Jamison (shoulder), the game was still over before it began. St. Mary’s led 32-6 early in the second quarter and then really blew the game open after going on a 20-0 run to start the second half. The Spartans have now won 13 games in a row since opening the season with a loss to Central Catholic in an unofficial MIAA endowment game.

Picking back up

Last Friday’s game between Triton and Masconomet boys basketball, which was suspended midway through the second quarter due to unplayable court conditions, will resume at the point of interruption on Monday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m., the Triton athletic department announced on Tuesday. Masconomet was winning 19-15 with approximately five minutes remaining in the second quarter when the game was stopped.

Call to the Hall

Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the hall announced on Tuesday. Rivera, the legendary New York Yankees closer, became the first player in history to be unanimously selected, while ex-Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Halladay (85.4 percent), ex-Seattle designated hitter Martinez (85.4 percent) and ex-Baltimore and New York Yankee pitcher Mussina (76.7 percent) also cleared the 75 percent needed for induction. Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling saw his vote totals improve, but he still fell short at 60.9 percent. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, two of the game’s all-time greats who have seen their legacies tarnished by steroid accusations, earned 59.5 and 59.1 percent of the vote respectively.

New Podcast!

Was Sunday’s AFC Championship Game one of the five greatest games in Patriots history? Is the criticism of the NFL’s overtime rules warranted? How has the experience of watching the Patriots’ dynastic run unfold been different for those who were already adults when it began in 2001 compared to the younger fans who grew up watching Tom Brady as kids? These are just a few of the topics covered by Mac Cerullo and Bill Burt in the latest edition of the North of Boston Patriots Podcast, which is available now on The Daily News of Newburyport’s website. Check it out online or find the link on Mac’s Twitter account at @MacCerullo.

Blackwell to NHL

North Andover’s Colin Blackwell made his NHL debut on Saturday, playing for the Nashville Predators in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. He played 17 shifts and saw 11:29 of total ice time.Blackwell, who has scored seven goals in 14 games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals this winter, was promoted to the NHL roster Saturday morning. It was the first call-up for the three-year pro, who spent last year with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals (Buffalo Sabers) and the 2016-17 season with the San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks). Blackwell was previously a standout at Harvard, where he lost nearly two full college seasons due to a severe concussion.

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