TOPSFIELD — If the Masconomet girls basketball team didn’t feel the pressure against Pentucket last Monday night, it most definitely felt it last night against Newburyport.
The undefeated Chieftains faced their largest halftime deficit of the season, down by 10 at the break. A fourth quarter push, however, was the difference as Masco got the better of the Clippers, 56-48.
The victory, the Chieftains’ 16th of the season, not only kept their perfect record intact, but also gave them their first Cape Ann League Large championship since 2008.
“This is just a good win for us, it keeps us going in the right direction,” said Masconomet coach Bob Romeo. “It was nice that we were able to get the CAL title on Senior Night. That was one of our preseason goals. Our five seniors, Nicole Femino, Hannah Kiernan, Lexi Nason, Janelle Shea and Megan Letvinchuk — its a credit to them. They weren’t going to let this not happen.”
Masco held Newburyport (12-6) to just six fourth quarter points to secure the win.
“We didn’t crack defensively. In the fourth quarter I thought we were all over the place. Our girls are in shape. The running in practice makes a difference. They might not like it, but it’s for a reason,” Romeo said.
The Clippers led 42-36 at the end of the third quarter. The Chieftains had no answer for Morgan Johnston and Mary Pettigrew, who combined for 13 points in the third.
It was a different situation in the fourth, however, as Femino made two free throws to tie the game at 44-all with four minutes to play. Newburyport turned the ball over on the next possession and Kiernan buried a three to give the Chieftains their first lead since the first quarter. Masco took advantage of Newburyport’s turnovers and got to the line more than a dozen times in all.