NEWBURYPORT — Even though Newburyport’s Ian Michaels had played a relatively quiet game last night against Hamilton-Wenham, both coaches knew the basketball would be in his hands for the final play.
Just seconds after the Generals took the lead on a Henry Eagar runner, Michaels maneuvered around two screens and drilled an off-the-dribble three-pointer from the left wing with only 2.2 seconds remaining. Hamilton-Wenham’s desperation attempt at the buzzer came up short, and Newburyport advanced with a 43-42 victory in the first round of the Division 3 North boys basketball tournament.
The Clippers will play the winner of tomorrow’s Whittier-Amesbury game (time and place TBA) in the quarterfinals.
“We made a play at the end and looked like we had them,” Hamilton-Wenham (10-9) coach Doug Hoak said. “They made the last play of the game to win. I just don’t know how he got such an open look.”
Before the game-winning three Michaels had converted only two field goals and had five points. He took the final three with the confidence of a player who hadn’t missed a shot all game.
“I grabbed Michaels at the 4:43 mark and just hugged him. He came over to me and I just said, ‘Keep your composure; you’re trying to do too much,’” Newburyport (14-7) coach Tom L’Italien said. “Then, our season’s on the line and that’s the guy we’re going to right there. He hit the huge shot and it doesn’t surprise me. He likes the big moment.”
L’Italien gave Michaels the option to create during their final timeout. Michaels could use the picks to get to the hoop, get space for a jumper, or kick to freshman three-point specialist Dan Baribeault on the wing. He got space and took care of the rest.