MANCHESTER — On the day before his team was to play in the Division I girls basketball championship game, Portsmouth High School coach Tim Hopley found himself down a couple assistants.

Assistant coaches Tom McCormick and Jeannie Allyson were both out of state due to prior commitments. So Hopley reached out to his predecessor, Danny Parr, the all-time winningest basketball coach in New Hampshire, who’d stepped down prior to the 2016-17 season for health reasons.

“And Coach Parr was dumb enough to answer my text message,” said Hopley.

There was no dream ending to the Clippers’ tournament run on Saturday. Hopley and Parr watched from the bench as their team got defended, turned over and beaten, 46-33, by a top-seeded Bishop Guertin team squad that capped off its fourth straight Division I championship.

Maybe it’s no surprise that the two assistants had other plans. The Clippers began the season as the ultimate longshots to get this far. Nobody could foresee them still playing basketball on March 10.

The sixth-seeded Clippers walked off the floor Saturday as the second-best team, but could still appreciate where they were — in a Stan Spirou Field House packed with a lot of their fans, who celebrated a return-to-Division I season and an unforgettable playoff run.

“It means a lot to all of us,” said senior guard Arianna Hebert. “Having a bunch of people that we care so much about there, it honestly helps us. We hear our student section screaming for us and helping us out when we’re in a difficult time during the game.

“It means a lot to all of us to have so many there that care so much about us.”

For senior forward Abbe Laurence, whose season began on the sidelines after offseason knee surgery, but ended with three Division I scholarship offers — and counting — it wasn’t hard to appreciate the support.

“There’s nothing like Portsmouth High School,” she said. “I was asked why I didn’t go prep after my knee surgery. I said I could never imagine leaving Portsmouth. There’s nothing like it. The Portsmouth High School community is something special.”

The presence of Parr added another layer of meaning to a season already packed with it. His final season was Laurence’s freshman one, when the Clippers went 18-0 but got upset on this floor by Hanover in the D-II semifinals.

“I started this run with him,” said Laurence. “Having him on the bench was something special.”

So were the playoff moments.

There was Hebert having the game of her life in a quarterfinal upset at No. 3 Bedford, scoring 27 points (and making 13-of-14 free throws) in a 50-34 win.

There was senior Brittany Graham taking a pass from Reilly Velez and draining a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime in Thursday’s semifinal against No. 2 Pinkerton, a game the Clippers would win, 43-41.

In the final, undefeated BG reveled in its role of spoiler from the start, racing ahead 9-2 as it turned the Clippers (16-6) over three times and forced Hopley to call timeout just 90 seconds in.

Portsmouth weathered that storm but the batterings accumulated, finishing with 21 turnovers. The Cards led by eight at halftime, a dozen after three quarters and 15 with seven minutes to go.

“Things just kind of slipped away from us,” said Laurence. “Give them credit, but it was a lot of us. It was a big stage (and) we were all so excited.

“They went on that big run at the start and we calmed down. We needed to do that a couple more times.”

Laurence’s high school career officially concluded when she fouled out with 2:53 left. The last couple minutes gave some of the bench players a taste of championship action, several of whom will elevate into larger roles next year.

Even with starters Hebert, Laurence and Graham, and key backup forward Velez moving on, the Clippers look positioned to keep winning games.

Six-foot-1 junior forward Corinne Lamond played a strong final (eight points, seven rebounds) after missing games late in the season with a concussion. Two of her classmates, 5-foot-10 defensive whiz Ava Karlin and 5-foot-11 Livi Kozick, cracked the starting lineup this year and played key roles. Anna Smith, Mia Smith and Katey McCafferty will all return as ball-handlers.

If nothing else, the Clippers proved they belonged.

Four days before his team opened the season at Nashua North, Hopley was asked about his impressions of Division I — the bottom tier, in particular, and whether there were any teams that opponents would consider an automatic win.

“I hope it’s not us,” he said.

It wasn’t. Not by a longshot.