High schools: Concord Nordic teams extend title streaks to six
Concord's Erin Waters skates into the final leg of the classic race during the NHIAA D3 Nordic Championship at Bedford on Wednesday, February 19, 2014(Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Josh Pifer leads his wave during the first leg of the classic event in the NHIAA D1 Nordic Championship in Bedford on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Jamie Nelson (15) and Caleb Seymour (11) make their way out on the first leg of the classic race during the NHIAA D1 Nordic Championship in Bedford on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Jessica Nelson makes her way through the mid-stretch of the classic course during the NHIAA D1 Nordic Championship in Bedford on Wednesday, February 14, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Maehgan Connor leads her wave during the uphill start of the classic race in the NHIAA D1 Nordic Championship in Bedford on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Only one thing could slow the Concord Nordic teams yesterday, but that didn’t happen until after the Crimson Tide left the Division I championships and its bus broke down. When Concord was at Bedford’s Legacy Park, there was no stopping the Tide as both the girls’ and boys’ teams won their sixth straight D-I titles.
The Concord girls swept the first six spots in the morning classic race, took six of the top seven in the afternoon freestyle race, and cruised to the crown, finishing with 788 points to 742 for second-place Keene. Things were a touch tighter on the boys side as the Tide beat out Keene once again, this time 778-752, although Concord senior Nate LaTourette ran away with the individual victories in both races.
Tide Coach Stuart Kremzner knew his teams were the favorites going into the event, especially the girls. But Kremzner wasn’t assuming anything, and he made sure his skiers were on the same page.
“We go into any race always trying to anticipate the unexpected and we know from past races it’s not over until it’s over, and you can go in very well prepared but have all kinds of things happen that can change the results,” Kremzner said. “I told them at the start of the meet they had to be prepared for pretty much anything, and every single skier played a role in doing that.”
Like they have all season, Erin Waters and Kate Andy led the Tide girls. That duo took the top two spots in both races by significant margins, Waters finishing first in the classic and Andy taking the afternoon freestyle.
“They’re both such strong skiers and they’re pretty rapidly coming to the conclusion that Nordic skiing is something they want to do in college, and now they’re starting to work toward those goals,” Kremzner said.
But the real story for the Concord girls this year has been depth, and that was very evident yesterday. The Tide’s Jessica Nelson was third overall in the classic race, followed by teammates Sabrina Lawrence, Michealla Conery and Maehgan Connor. So even though Conery and Connor didn’t score for the Tide, they were faster than every skier from the six other D-I schools. And if the Tide’s depth wasn’t emphasized enough in that morning race, the point was truly driven home in the afternoon when freshman Jacqueline Bengtson subbed in and finished third overall. Nelson was fourth in that freestyle race, Conery took fifth and Lawrence was seventh.
Although the official results aren’t immediately available after Nordic meets, there was no question Concord had won its sixth consecutive championship as the freestyle racers crossed the finish line.
“They were ecstatic,” Kremzner said. “They’re really a tight-knight group of girls and they were all waiting for each other at the finish line and hugging and cheering each other on, and that keeps happening one after the other, and that’s a really great thing to see.”
LaTourette had to wait a long time at the finish line for any other boy to cross it. The Tide senior, who also won both races in last year’s D-I championships, finished the classic race in 15:43, and second-place David Bain from Keene came across in 17:14. And in the afternoon freestyle event, LaTourette posted a 13:26 while Bain once again had to settle for a distant second with his time of 15:05.
Concord placed four skiers in the top seven in the classic race as Caleb Seymour took fourth, Josh Pifer finished fifth and Jamie Nelson was seventh. But Keene, which was also the runner-up last year, put three skiers in the top six and was within seven points (387-380) going into the afternoon race. But the Tide left little doubt in the freestyle as Nelson took third overall, Seymour finished fourth and Pifer was fifth.
Kremzner was particularly impressed with the result from Nelson, a sophomore who was a bit of an unknown at the beginning of the season, and Pifer, who missed time this winter with a separated shoulder.
“I wouldn’t say Josh’s shoulder is 100 percent, but he’s a real fighter, a real tough kid, and it’s skiers like him that win state championships,” Kremzner said. “We know a skier like Nate is always going to be fast, but it’s guys like Josh who hard day after day and fight all the way to the finish that get you those extra points you need.”
Portsmouth 59, Coe-Brown 37
Coe-Brown (8-7) struggled shooting in the first half and Portsmouth (13-2) took advantage, rolling to a 31-12 halftime lead before eventually winning its eighth straight game.
“They’re a very good team,” Coe-Brown Coach David Smith said. “It was a dogfight the whole night.”
Erik Rolser (10 rebounds) and Isaac Nowland scored eight points apiece to pace the Bears. Nick Rolser added seven points and four assists, and Spencer Nowland scored four points and dished out four assists.
Lebanon 90, John Stark 47
John Stark senior Zach Gagnon finished with 14 points and freshman Drew McQuarrie had seven points and 10 rebounds, but the Generals lost their third straight to fall to 3-12. Lebanon improved to 13-3 with the home win. Cam Williams added seven for Stark, which hosts Merrimack Valley tomorrow.
BERLIN 51, FRANKLIN 48
The Golden Tornadoes (4-11) tied things up on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, but Berlin (12-2) answered with a 3 of its own to claim the win, its sixth straight.
The Tornadoes stayed with Berlin the entire game as the two teams traded the lead multiple times. Franklin’s Matt Hennessey recorded 15 points and six rebounds, Bruce Carey scored 14 points, and Dana Bean finished with eight points.
Coe-Brown 49, Portsmouth 42
For the second time this season, Coe-Brown (10-5) got the better of Portsmouth (10-5) in a tight matchup, vaulting the Bears into a tie for sixth place in Division II with the Clippers.
Coe-Brown was clutch from the foul line, hitting 11 of 12 free throws – eight of them in the fourth quarter.
After a 12-12 first quarter, the Bears took a tenuous 25-23 lead into halftime. Portsmouth did take the lead early in the third quarter, but Coe-Brown’s hounding defense created some turnovers and the Bears canned a couple of 3-pointers to take the lead for good.
Agibail Ahern led a balanced attack with 17 points, including going 7-for-8 from the line. Sarah Curtin added 16 points, 12 of them coming on four 3-pointers, and Jen Schlim also scored 16 points and was a force on the glass, pulling in at least a dozen rebounds.
Coe-Brown takes on another of the teams in that four-way tie for sixth place when it travels to Pembroke tomorrow.
Lebanon 50, John Stark 21
The Generals were missing five players (two to injury, three on a school trip), scored just nine points in the first half and dropped to 1-14 with the loss at home. Lebanon improved to 12-5.
“Lebanon’s size was too much to overcome with our short bench and injured forwards,” John Stark Coach Chris Howard said. “We limited our turnovers to a season-low eight, but had a hard time putting the ball in the basket.”
Sarah Clark finished with five points and eight rebounds for the Generals, Hannah Nelson had seven points, and Sam Winn stepped in as the starting point guard and performed well on both ends of the floor.
Monadnock 49, Hillsboro-Deering 19
Hillsboro-Deering seniors Marygrace Bartoldus (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Paige Vincent (nine points) scored all of the Hillcats’ points in the team’s final game of the season.
“Monadnock had players running at them all night long, but they still came up big,” H-D Coach Bill Warnken said. “I’m proud of those two to go out strong like that.”
The Hillcats stayed with Monadnock (8-8) for the first quarter, but the Huskies opened up a 25-10 lead by halftime.