LYNN — The Ipswich girls basketball team experienced first hand how to close out a basketball game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they watched as St. Mary’s put up nine unanswered points down the stretch to win last night’s Spartan Classic Division 3 championship contest.
The host Spartans trailed by five with just under three minutes to play in the final quarter, but pulled off a late push to edge Ipswich, 59-53.
“We didn’t do a good job closing out the game,” said Ipswich head coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski. “I don’t think it was because we were tired, I just think we made poor decisions. We didn’t take care of the ball and took some poor shots in the end that led to some fastbreak points for them. Credit to them to come back and hang on in a game that they were behind for most of the time.”
St. Mary’s senior Brianna Rudolph went to the line and hit both foul shots to cut the deficit to three. Ipswich turned the ball over and on the next possession freshman Kayla Carter, a Beverly resident, drove hard to the basket, scored and went to the free throw line. The foul shot tied the game at 50-50.
The Spartans (16-3) went on to dominate the closing minutes and hit five of their six free throws to ice the game.
“I don’t think there was any real strategy or science to it, I just think we found a way to win” explained St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall. “This was probably our best win and we willed ourselves to it. Down the stretch we were just a step quicker to the ball and a step quicker in transition.”
Ipswich (16-3) trailed by four after the first quarter, but led 24-20 at halftime. The Tigers maintained the lead for 17 minutes just up until St. Mary’s went on the 9-0 run in the fourth quarter.