By Jean DePlacido
---- — IPSWICH — The host Tigers lost some prolific scorers from last year’s team that lost only four games, but the young guns stepped up to give first year head coach Dot Stanley a victory in her Ipswich coaching debut, 38-33 over Amesbury.
“We only had one scrimmage so we didn’t have long to prepare,” said Stanley, who is a member of the Ipswich Hall of Fame. “There were a lot of mistakes by both teams. Everybody is new for us, and I’m seeing all the little things starting to come together.
“We’ve got a lot to learn, but we’re getting better. I look at all the baskets we missed, and what is really important is that we were driving to the basket and getting shots off even if they didn’t fall. Abby McCarthy had the game of her life, driving to the hoop and drawing fouls.”
McCarthy, a junior center who is on the varsity for the first time, came off the bench to score a team high 11 points. She had nine in the second half, including five from the line.
“I was really nervous going taking my foul shots, but I kept thinking just get the next point,” said McCarthy. “We have to think one point at a time. I love this team; it’s a great group of girls. The most important thing is to keep working hard because this is a brand new start.”
Last year the Tigers went all the way to the North semi-finals before losing to Pentucket. Graduation claimed Brigid O’Flynn and Julia Davis while point guard Masey Zegarowski and Caroline Soucy are now attending private schools.
Freshman Kelsey Daly and senior Marissa Cain shared the duties at point guard last night for Ipswich. Daly chipped in with six points.
“We won because we got a great team effort,” said Stanley. “The key to the team was how effective Kelsey and Marissa brought the ball up the court. Jenna Gagnon, Bridget Curran, and Jordan Morrissey all played well. We’re going to need that same kind of effort every game this season.”
The Tigers shot out to a 12-4 lead at the end of one quarter, but were outscored, 12-5 in the next to cling to a 17-16 advantage at the half. Amesbury went on a run, scoring the last eight points before intermission, led by game high scorer Amanda Martin, who had 13 points.
Freshman Abigail Sartori hit a jump shot to give the Indians their first lead since the opening minute of the game, but Ipswich fought back to pull ahead once again and go up by five points heading into the fourth quarter, 28-23. The Tigers reeled off seven unanswered points midway through the stanza, and the visitors never recovered.
Curran (nine points) stole the ball and scored to put the Tigers on top for good. Jenna Gagnan made a layup after stealing the ball, and McCarthy hit a pair from the foul line to key the run. Gagnon was a force all over the court, scoring seven points and blocking three shots.
Amesbury made it interesting at the end, cutting the lead to two points, 34-32 with two minutes to go after Martin made a pair from the line, and then hit a jumper with two minutes remaining in the game. That was as close as they could come as McCarthy made a foul shot and then hit a driving layup to give her team some breathing room.
The game was won at the line for the Tigers, who made 19 free throws while Amesbury only made six.
“We’re going to need Abby to keep playing like that,” said Stanley. “I can’t say enough about what a great game she had.”