MV, Pembroke, Kearsarge advance to D-II boys’ basketball semifinals

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  • Merrimack Valley Kyle Dube knocks the ball out of Hollis Brookline forward Grant Snyder’s hands as the team stepped up their defense in the second half at MV on Saturday, March 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley forward Jared Sylvester tries to knock the ball away from Hollis Brookline forward Grant Snyder during the second half as head coach Tim Mucher waves on Saturday, March 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley teammates surround Jared Sylvester after he drained a 3-pointer to go ahead for the first time in the second half, causing Hollis Brookline to call timeout on Saturday during the D-II tourney in Penacook. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley forward Jared Sylvester pressures the shot by Hollis Brookline guard on the last shot of the game on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The shot missed and MV goes on to the semi-finals of Division II tournament on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Griffin Wheeler fights through a double team during the second half on Saturday, March 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Dillon McCarthy drives past Hollis Brookline center Quinten Whimmer during the fourth quarter on Saturday, March 9, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/10/2019 12:12:23 AM

PENACOOK – As the potential game-winning shot left Brian Holroyd’s fingertips, Merrimack Valley’s Kyle Dube could sense a little deja vu creeping in.

“I was right under the hoop and I saw it was on line,” Dube said. “I was just thinking, ‘I don’t want to see that. I’ve seen this before and I don’t want it to happen again.’ ”

After having its season cut short by Hollis Brookline in each of the past two seasons, the Pride finally returned the favor. Holroyd’s last-second launch from behind the arc hit the rim, bounced harmlessly to the floor and sent No. 5 Merrimack Valley past No. 13 Hollis Brookline, 50-48, in Saturday’s Division II boys’ basketball quarterfinal game in Penacook.

In the final four for a second consecutive year, the Pride (15-5) will take on No. 9 Kearsarge (12-8) in Monday’s semifinal at the University of New Hampshire. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

“This school hasn’t had much success over the years but we got to the semis last year, and when you get there, you want to go back,” said Dube, who led the Pride with 17 points. “There’s nothing like playing at UNH.”

MV had to endure more than a few tense moments to get there.

Trailing for most of the contest, including an 18-14 deficit after a slow-paced, defensive first half, the Pride began to hit its stride late in the third quarter.

A quick 8-0 run to end the frame cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one at 34-33, and MV continued to ride that wave of momentum into the fourth. Dube drained a big 3 and senior Dillon McCarthy (12 points) and sophomore Griff Wheeler (eight) combined to score 12 of the team’s 17 points to provide the Pride with a 49-43 advantage with 1:15 to play.

“He’s what makes our team go and he’s one hell of a basketball player,” MV coach Tim Mucher said of Dube. “We have a team of kids that have guts.”

But that’s when Hollis Brookline’s Dhruv Miglani gave every Pride fan in the building a scare.

Miglani, the hero for the Cavaliers (10-10) in their first-round upset victory over No. 4 Pelham, buried a 3-pointer from the corner out of a timeout to make it a one-possession game.

MV then went to the free-throw line, missing the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity and Miglani came right back up the floor and nearly tied the contest at 49-all.

His shot appeared in, and then rimmed out, but the Cavaliers still found a way to score on a layup from Grant Synder (20 points).

Still clinging to a narrow lead (49-48) with 12.6 seconds left, MV again went to line, this time splitting a pair of free throws to go up two.

Needing one last bucket to knock MV from the tournament for a third straight season, Cavaliers guard Holroyd got a decent look in the corner from 3-point range but couldn’t get the shot to fall.

“In my mind, I’m hoping it would miss obviously,” Dube said. “It hit back rim, Caleb (Heath) just took the ball out and then the clock ran off.”

The Cavaliers came in as the No. 13 seed, but Mucher knew better than to overlook a program that has been a pain in the side of the Pride.

“They’re not a 9-9 team,” Mucher said of Hollis Brookline’s play, referring to its record during the regular season. “They’re long, they’re athletic and this was just a hard-fought game. They don’t look like a No. 13 team.”

Dube, a member of last year’s team who fell to the Cavaliers, 46-43, in the semifinals, said the Pride carried plenty of extra motivation into Saturday’s showdown.

“We kind of took the stuff where they beat us the past two years and used that as motivation to get back to UNH,” Dube said. “We lost six guys. People doubted us at the beginning (of the season) and it’s like we needed to get back (to the final four) to prove that we belong.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)

Boys’ basketballDivision II quarterfinals

No. 3 Pembroke 54, No. 6 Kennett 43

Key players: Pembroke – Noah Cummings (18 points, 7 rebounds), Shea Shackford (15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals), Sean Menard (17 points, 7 rebounds), Jaxen Dupuis (defense), Jack Lehoullier (defense)

Highlights: The Spartans didn’t start playing their brand of basketball until the second half. Kennett was on top, 17-11, after the first quarter, 32-20 at halftime and led 38-34 heading into the final frame. But Pembroke could see the game starting to shift in the third. Defensively, the Spartans limited Kennett to just six points in the quarter and 11 points total for the second half. Meanwhile, Cummings and Shackford led the late comeback on the offensive end. Cummings notched 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, while Shackford scored eight of his 15 in a period Pembroke outscored Kennett, 20-5. The victory sets Pembroke up with a date with No. 2 ConVal in Monday’s semifinal at UNH at 5:30 p.m.

Coach’s quote: “We came out really lethargic in the first half, didn’t defend, didn’t rebound and didn’t play Pembroke Academy basketball. We had a long conversation at halftime about what we wanted to do in the second half and the kids came out and played Pembroke basketball.” – Pembroke’s Rich Otis

Records: Pembroke 19-1; Kennett 13-7

No. 9 Kearsarge 50,
No. 1 Oyster River 49

Key players: Kearsarge – Noah Tremblay (21 points), Adrian McCarthy (9 points, 10 rebounds), Nick LeBlanc (8 points), Ben Carl (6 points), Kyle Hernon (4 points, 2 blocks), Tyler Sidmore (6 points, block), Emerson Tyler (defense), Jak Jallah (defense).

Highlights: McCarthy, a 6-foot freshman, drilled the game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the key with 0.5 seconds left to stun the top-seeded Bobcats on their home floor. Kearsarge had trailed after each of the first three quarters, but the Cougars outscored Oyster River, 17-12, down the stretch thanks to several key shots. LeBlanc and Tremblay each hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final frame, while Hernon, Tyler, Sidmore and Jallah pestered Oyster River’s top scoring options. LeBlanc’s second trey gave the Cougars a one-point lead with just under a minute to go, but Max Lewis answered with a 3 of his own to give the Bobcats a 49-47 lead with about 20 seconds left. Despite having a timeout in his pocket, Kearsarge coach Nate Camp elected to trust his players, and after the defense collapsed on Tremblay, he reversed the ball to Carl, who bounced a pass to McCarthy for the semifinal-clinching bucket. Kearsarge will square off against rival No. 5 Merrimack Valley in the semifinals at UNH on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Coach’s quote: “The final minute was unbelievable. Oyster River made some big plays. ... We showed a lot of composure tonight. They went on a couple of runs and we just hung with them. We’ve been in a lot of close games and we had a tough schedule, so we were pretty well battle-tested. ... They’re No. 1 in the state for a reason. They have two kids that could score 49 by themselves combined and we did a great job defensively.” – Kearsarge’s Nate Camp

Records: Kearsarge 12-8; Oyster River 17-2

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