“We left it up to him,” L’Italien said. “We set up a couple staggered screens for him and you know what, basketball is important to him and that’s the guy we’re going to.”
James Foye was the guy Hamilton-Wenham was going to, and Newburyport knew it when the Generals forced a turnover with 38 seconds left in a tie game.
The Clippers forced the ball out of Foye’s hands, but Eagar (8 points) came through by slicing through the lane and hitting contested runner.
That possession was one of only a few where Newburyport prevented Foye from scoring. Hamilton-Wenham’s sophomore guard had 23 points in the game, including 13 of the Generals’ 17 second half points.
“He’s a special player,” L’Italien said about Foye. “That team started 1-5, and with Jimmy Campbell being out there was a lot of pressure on him and he allowed his teammates to come along over the course of the season. We’ve got two difficult years ahead to prepare for him.”
The Generals fell behind 8-2 early, but had separate 9-0 and 10-0 runs to take a 25-16 lead into the half. They pushed the lead to 13 early in the third quarter.
“We have battles like that every time we play. We both defend and usually the games are low scoring,” Hoak said. “I think we had a chance in the first half to kind of put them away and they made enough plays to hang in.”
Newburyport, which got a team-high 15 points from Colton Fontaine, hit Hamilton-Wenham with a 12-0 run that turned a 33-26 deficit into a 38-33 lead.
Foye made a three, finished a drive and hit a jumper with 52 seconds left to tie the game at 40-40.
“James is a player, and we just didn’t have enough plays from other kids,” Hoak said.