Clark Tournament Wrap-up

The Sutton Sammies and Suzies Participated in the Annual Clark Tournament


Richard Levansavich

The Suzies won the first girls Clark Tournament hosted in 50 years.

Evan Hughes, Staff Writer

Another year, another Clark Tournament appearance for our Sutton Sammies, as well as the Suzies, who participated in the first girls’ bracket hosted since the 1970s.

For those unaware, the Clark Tournament is an annual high school basketball tournament consisting of two brackets, large schools and small schools.

To no one’s surprise, Sutton resides in the small school bracket, along with teams such as Douglas and Maynard. Sutton has found success in years past, such as the boys winning in the midst of their historic 2019-2020 season.

Coach Andy Niedzwiecki talks to the team during a timeout. (Richard Levansavich)

The fourth seeded Sammies played Saturday, February 18th in Oxford against the fifth seeded Lunenburg Blue Knights. Despite the efforts of Seniors Ryan O’Rourke (11 points) and Daniel Cox (10 points), the boys lost in a double overtime heart breaker by a score of 47-43.

The game started hot, with Sutton taking a 15-1 lead in the first quarter, and carrying a 28-13 lead into half, but the Blue Knights caught fire in the second half, outscoring Sutton 34-15 after the break.

The season is not over, however, as the Sammies will participate in the state tournament in the coming weeks. The seedings are released tomorrow. Be sure to show out for our home games.

Over in the girls bracket, the second seeded Suzies traveled to the Clark campus to face the third seeded Maynard Tigers on Sunday. They put away a nail-biter by a score of 39-36.

The team had a major contribution from senior guard Theresa Sartiah, who scored 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half. The girls really got it going in the second quarter, winning it by a margin of 15-8.

Coach D prepares the girls to hold the lead down the stretch. (Evan Hughes)

Coach John Doldoorian Jr. thought the girls were running better than usual; “We run a lot. People don’t realize that; we just don’t attack the basket all the time. We run to areas and then we try to do things, but we were actually able to get to the basket, and that was huge.”

The Suzies faced adversity in the third quarter, but the girls kept their heads up and put it away with some timely baskets from eighth grader Ava Carroll (8 points) and junior Maddy Cruz (4 points).

“At half time we said to them that Maynard’s gonna come out,” said Doldoorian, “They’re a very physical team, well coached, and they had just played us so they know what we’re gonna do. I told them, ‘they’re gonna come out loaded for bear, we just have to struggle through it, no pouty faces, just keep focusing, and do what we do.'”

Some unique offensive adjustments at the end of the game helped Sutton hold their lead; “We went to a man-to-man at the end of the game even though they were in kind of a box-and-one or diamond-and-one which got us a couple open looks.”

I asked Coach D what makes Theresa so unique after the game. “One of the most athletic kids I’ve ever coached, and this is thirty-something years I’ve been coaching. She’s a tough kid, unbelievably athletic, and you know what, she just wants to win, that’s the big thing.”

Ava Carroll prepares to take a couple of free throws to help seal the game. (Evan Hughes)

The girls moved onto the finals, where they met the Millbury Woolies for a rematch of the season opener. The Suzies were out for revenge on Wednesday.

The game started off slow, with the first quarter ending in a 6-3 Sutton lead. The second was no more intense, as Sutton entered halftime with an 11-7 lead.

I got a chance, once again, to speak to Coach D after the game, and he had this to say about the low scoring affair: “We really didn’t do anything different defensively. This has been our MO the whole year, to play great defense. We know we don’t always score a ton, but we realize that playing good defense means you’re in every game no matter what. Kudos to the kids because they sell themselves totally out every game to play great defense.”

There were clearly some adjustments at halftime, as Sutton jumped to a 25-16 lead at the end of the third on the back of eighth grader Ava Carroll (13 points), who scored all of her points in the second half, as well as hitting the first three pointer of her career.

“She’s unbelievable,” said Doldoorian, “I think she’s only taken one other three the whole year, and it was a game that we were way ahead, and I said to her ‘if you feel like taking one go ahead.’ She missed. This was more spur of the moment. She decided on it, and got it. I think it was like an NBA three, it was so far.”

The girls would hold on through the fourth to secure the win, as well as the tournament, thanks to clutch free throw shooting from Carroll and Sartiah. The final score was 35-25, Millbury’s lowest scoring game of the season.

Theresa and Coach D share a special moment after the game. (Richard Levansavich)

This was a very special moment for Theresa Sartiah, the lone senior on the team, but also a major moment in the Clark Tournament, since this was the first time in 50 years that they’ve hosted a tournament for girls basketball. Theresa and Coach D both shared how special this moment was for them after the game.

“It feels amazing,” said Theresa, “I’m very excited to add a ball to the trophy case for Sutton High School”

That ball is the Clark Trophy, as well as a plaque, but that ball means quite a bit more to the Sutton players.

Doldoorian echoed Theresa’s sentiment: “It’s the best feeling in the world. The other day I showed them all the boys’ balls from their championships from Clark. I said ‘The one thing missing in this trophy case is a ball for the girls from Clark, so why don’t you go get one. When you have grand kids you can bring them in and say ‘This is the ball I won!””