×

High schools: Belmont boys’ basketball wins Lakes Region Holiday Tournament



Monitor staff
Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Belmont boys’ basketball team doesn’t want its identity to be the team that lost to Berlin by 44 points, and the Raiders took a big step in that direction by defending its Lakes Region Holiday Tournament title on Friday with a 62-35 win over Division II Kingswood in a rematch of last year’s championship.

Belmont (2-1 in D-III) also defeated local D-III rivals, Winnisquam and Laconia, over the previous two days to defend its title in the 44th edition of the annual tournament hosted by Gilford High School.

“I can’t say enough about how well we defended,” Belmont coach Jim Cilley said. “We forced them out of what they wanted to do.”

The Knights (1-1 in D-II) led 11-9 after the first quarter, but the Raiders led 25-18 at halftime. Belmont turned up the defensive pressure and moved the ball around more effectively on offense in the second half.

The Raiders gave up 10 first-half turnovers, but senior point guard and tournament MVP Matt Pluskis (20 points, six rebounds, five assists) ran an effective offense in the second, opening up space, sharing the ball and helping his team control the offensive glass for easy baskets.

“We picked (Kingswood’s) press apart,” Cilley said. “We made some adjustments and we focused on the offensive glass.”

The adjustments paid off as Belmont extended its lead to 38-24 at the end of the third quarter, before piling on 24 fourth-quarter points to seal the win.

Junior point guard Griffin Embree scored all 11 of his points in the second half.

Freshman guard Nate Sottak, “continued to do all the little things, all of the intangibles, right,” according to Cilley, as Sottak recorded seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in a well-rounded effort.

Belmont also made adjustments on the defensive end.

After allowing Kingswood to collect many offensive boards in the first half, big men Dylan Gansert (eight points, six rebounds, three assists) and Matt Thurber (eight points, four steals, block) helped the Raiders take care of the ball on both ends of the court.

“I can’t say enough about how well we played defensively,” Cilley said. “Our defensive effort throughout the tournament has been outstanding.”

Entering the tourney, “we wanted to see who we were,” Cilley said.

The Raiders picked up big wins over Gilford and Laconia in regular-season action, but were still trying to shake the memory of a 70-26 loss to Berlin on Dec. 15.

The Raiders resume D-III action on Wednesday at home against Prospect Mountain (1-2).

“We’re forming our identity,” Cilley said. “We’re hoping after this people see us as a tough defensive team.”

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Coe-Brown 64, Smithfield, R.I. 61

Key players: Coe-Brown – Luke McCusker (25 points), Kyshaun Rowell (12 points), Scott Spenard (11 points), Brendan Eaton (11 points, 10 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears trailed by three heading into the final frame, but outscored Smithfield, 21-15, in the fourth quarter to secure third place in the Keene State Holiday Tournament. Rowell hit a 3 at the halftime buzzer and Jacob Rich sunk a big 3 in the third quarter to keep the score close.

Coach’s quote: “We had some big defensive stops.” – Coe-Brown’s David Smith

Records: Coe-Brown (1-0 in D-II)

Pittsfield 79, Farmington 43

Key players: Pittsfield – Cam Darrah (22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists), Matt St. George (16 points), Dylan Bocash (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), Casey Clark (12 points), Garrett Guerrero-Hadley (10 points, 10 assists)

Highlights/key moments: Pittsfield led by five after a sluggish first quarter, but increased the gap with a 30-point second quarter. The Panthers came out of halftime with the same energy, scoring 20 points in the third. Darrah scored 20 of his 22 points in the middle quarters. The win secures the Panthers a spot in the championship game of the Mike Lee Holiday Bash on Saturday against D-II Kennett.

Coach’s quote: “I can’t say enough about the unselfishness with this group. St. George and Bocash really set the tone for us on the defensive end and gave us the burst of energy we were looking for.” – Pittsfield’s Jay Darrah

Records: Pittsfield (3-0 in D-IV); Farmington (1-2 in D-IV)

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Laconia 46, Gilford 39

Key players: Laconia – Becca Howe (15 points, 3 assists), Sophie George (13 points, 4 assists), Meghan Gaspa (15 rebounds, 7 points); Gilford – Brooke Beaudet (15 points, 3 3-pointers)

Highlights/key moments: The Sachems came out of the gate aggressively, using a full-court press to take a 15-2 first-quarter lead in the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament championship. Laconia didn’t look back and were able to handle Gilford’s multiple offensive surges to claim the title.

Coach’s quote: “Our players did a great job executing tonight. Our effort on both ends created great opportunities for us to be successful. Well-deserved victory.” – Laconia’s Jeff Greeley

Records: Laconia (1-2 in D-II); Gilford (2-2 in D-III)