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High Schools: Bishop Brady, Merrimack Valley team up to fight cancer

  • Merrimack Valley forward Kaitlyn Belanger (in white) and Bishop Brady guard Kaylee Smith battle for the ball during the first half on Saturday, January 5, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Carly Huckins drives past Bishop Brady guard Kaylee Smith during the first half on Saturday, January 5, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Carly Huckins gets fouled going to the basket on during the first half on Saturday, January 5, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley forward Kaitlyn Belanger gets fouled during first half action against Bishop Brady on Saturday, January 5, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Carly Huckins drives past Bishop Brady guard Kaylee Smith during the first half on Saturday in Penacook. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley guard Carly Huckins gets fouled going to the basket on during the first half on Saturday, January 5, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady guard Wil Spencer gets fouled by Merrimack Valley guard Dillon McCarthy during the first half on Saturday, January 5, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 1/6/2019 12:19:28 AM

PENACOOK – Carly Huckins didn’t know if she was going to return to the Merrimack Valley girls’ basketball team this season. She considered stepping away as a way to move on from the death of her father, Dave Huckins, the MV coach from 2014-17 who passed away on Sept. 10, 2017, after a year-long battle with cancer.

In the end, Carly decided to return to the team where she played for her father for two seasons. And that decision feels like the right one.

“He was my coach until he passed, so that was my escape with him, we’d go to the gym together and do that,” Carly said. “I debated not playing this season just because my heart really wasn’t in it, and I almost didn’t play, but I had to do it for my team, and I’m glad I did. I get to live through all this.”

On Saturday, “all this” included a quadruple-header between the Bishop Brady and MV girls’ and boys’ basketball programs (both JV teams and both varsity teams played) with all proceeds going to benefit the Payson Center for Cancer Care. “All this” also included a thriller between the girls’ varsity teams that saw the Pride (4-3) rally from a 19-point deficit in the final three minutes before falling, 65-61, to the Giants (5-1) despite 29 points from Huckins.

“It’s awesome,” Huckins said. “I’m really glad they’re doing this whole thing.”

The idea first took shape last year when the Bishop Brady community decided to raise money for cancer research in honor of Dave Huckins and Rod Osborne, who lost his battle with cancer in 2017 and was the father of Sarah Osborne, a senior on MV’s team last year. The two schools decided to take things further this year by including the boys’ program and both JV teams.

“We’re going to make this a tradition,” MV Athletic Director Kevin O’Brien said. “Both communities have been affected by cancer and for this we have a united front between the schools, except for the 32 minutes during each of these four games. We still want to beat each other then, but it’s really a great thing.”

Annie Alosa, the Brady AD and girls’ basketball coach, agreed.

“It’s excellent. We started it last year to show support for the girls’ basketball family and the challenges the Huckins and Osborne families faced, and this year (O’Brien) and I talked and he had this vision of what it could be and I loved it,” Alosa said. “Bringing the two communities together last year was a great experience for everyone involved, and both communities want to keep working together.”

The Pride seized on the energy in its home gym and jumped out to a 10-2 lead before the Giants responded and eventually took a 15-14 advantage after one. It stayed tight in the second quarter and Brady held a 24-23 edge going into halftime after a jumper at the buzzer from Ami Rivera (15 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists).

Brady opened things up in the third quarter by getting out on the fast break, owning the offensive glass and getting six points off the bench in the frame from Halle Laramie (12 points). By the end of the third, the Giants had built a 46-33 lead.

“We played our basketball, Brady basketball, in that third quarter,” Alosa said. “We have this grand vision of what we want to play like and we did an all-right job with that in the third. We transitioned, we moved the ball, we played inside out, it was our style.”

They kept playing that style in the fourth. Kaylee Smith scored 10 of her 15 in the frame and buried a 3-pointer with 3:13 left that gave Brady a 62-43 lead.

The game felt over at that point, but the Pride came up with an improbable 10-0 run capped by Aislinn McDonald (nine points) scoring five points in seven seconds to cut the lead to 62-53 with 1:45 on the clock.

“All we talked about was attack, attack, attack and stay aggressive,” MV coach Bob McNutt said. “And all of a sudden we start to get some steals, our press is working, we’re not fouling and we’re hitting some 3s. They just went off.”

Smith stopped the Pride’s run with a layup off the press break, but Huckins answered with a 3, Miah Boucher (10 points) followed with a 3 of her own and after an offensive rebound putback from Kaitlyn Belanger, it was a one-possession game, 64-61, with 36.3 seconds left.

“The press was working, the energy through the bench was great, everything was amazing,” Huckins said.

Brady had possession after Belanger’s putback, but instead of stalling or waiting to get fouled, the Giants put up a shot. It missed, MV grabbed the rebound and the Pride somehow had a chance to tie in the final seconds. With his team looking for a 3 but not finding one, McNutt called a timeout with 17.1 on the clock. There was just one problem – he didn’t have any left.

That resulted in technical foul and Smith made one of two free throws to push the lead to two possessions, 65-61. MV got the ball again, but two 3-point attempts missed and the Giants escaped.

“I just lost track of things,” McNutt admitted. “I got confused, and I feel terrible about it. Like I just told the girls, this one is on me.”

The girls, however, weren’t having it.

“It was a pressure moment and coach made a mistake, we all make mistakes,” Huckins said. “He’s blaming himself, but everyone has a part in this. We can’t hang our heads about it.”

If anyone knows about not hanging your head, it’s Huckins. And if any day was a good one to keep perspective on sports, it was this one, where community, family and fighting cancer were all far more important than a final score.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

Boys’ basketball

Merrimack Valley 71,
Bishop Brady 55

Key players: Merrimack Valley – Kyle Dube (25 points), Griff Wheeler (15 points), Jared Sylvester (17 points), Caleb Heath (10 points off the bench)

Highlights: Brady hung tight in the first half, trailing by just one, 27-26. But the Pride upped its game in the second half, and went 17-for-19 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

Coach’s quote: “It was grind in the first half, but we were solid after that and played 16 minutes of good basketball.” – MV’s Tim Mucher

Records: Merrimack Valley 4-1; Bishop Brady 1-4

Hopkinton 86, Fall Mountain 36

Key players: Hopkinton – Caleb Yianakopolos (20 points), Kevin Newton-Delgado (18 points), Michael Baer (13 points), Daniel Miner (12 points), Shepyrd Murdough (8 points), Evan Jacobsen (8 points); Fall Mountain – Joey Murdough (21 points)

Highlights: On Friday, Hopkinton took a 16-4 lead after the first quarter and extended that advantage each quarter.

Coach's quote: “I was very proud of our guys as they executed tonight. Defensively, they were very tough allowing only one opportunity most of the time for Fall Mountain on each possession. Offensively, the guys hit some big shots and rebounded well to extend sets.” – Hopkinton’s Stephen Signor

Records: Hopkinton 5-0; Fall Mountain 4-1

Epping 57, Pittsfield 53

Key players: Pittsfield – Devin Bedell (19 points), Dylan Bocash (12 points, 9 rebounds), Chandler Norris (8 points)

Highlights: Pittsfield battled back after a slow start and had it to a one-possession game with under a minute, but Epping proved to be too tough on Friday.

Coach’s quote: “The boys played hard tonight and battled back after getting down in the first half. A few less turnovers down the stretch and this one might have gone our way.” – Pittsfield’s Jay Darrah

Records: Epping 4-1; Pittsfield 5-2

Boys’ Hockey

Concord 8,
Manchester Memorial 0

Key players: Concord – Matt Hauschild (G, 3A), Parker Frederickson (G, 2A), Ryan Doherty (G, A), Joey Ala (G, A), Derek Kelleher (2G), Evan Makris (G), Ryan Philbrick (G), Colin O’Brien (2A)

Highlights: Fredrickson, Doherty and Ala all notched their first career goals in this one. The Crimson Tide took a 2-0 lead in the first on goals from Hauthschild and Doherty, and then Concord put it away with four goals in the second. Parker Taylor and Will Pegnam combined for the six-save shutout.

Coach’s quote: “It was a solid effort. Our young kids really played well. Freshmen accounted for four goals.” – Concord’s Duncan Walsh

Records: Concord 5-1-0; Memorial 0-6-0

John Stark-Hopkinton 7,
Hollis Brookline-Derryfield 0

Key players: John Stark-Hopkinton – Brett Patnode (4G, 2), Nolan Sauer (G, 4A), Jake Cole (3A), Cabot Lineberry (G, A), Ethan Molnar (G, A), Larsen Burack (A); Hollis Brookline-Derryfield– Chris Slater (32 saves)

Highlights: The General Hawks edged out to a 1-0 lead after one before erupting for five goals in the second period.

Coach’s quote: “Our offensive pressure was the best I’ve seen it this year creating multiple turnovers and creating many scoring opportunities for us. ” – John Stark-Hopkinton’s Denis Kolehmainen

Records: John Stark-Hopkinton 6-0-0; Hollis Brookline- Derryfield 3-2-0

Girls’ Nordic Skiing

Concord first

Key players: Concord – Kaitlyn Watt (second overall in 13:49), Katherine Kennedy (third in 15:29), Johanne Nichols (fourth in 15:50), Dasha Savelieva (fifth in 15:53)

Highlights: The Crimson Tide took nine of the top 10 spots to finish with 390 points and easily beat out second-place Souhegan (354). Manchester Memorial’s Morgan Nault finished first in 13:04, leading the Crusaders (280 points) to third place. Bishop Guertin (186) was fourth and Keene (185) was fifth.

Coach’s quote: “A ton of new talent on our girls’ team is making for a very different dynamic this year. Should be fun to watch.” – Concord’s Sam Evans-Brown

Hopkinton first

Key players: Hopkinton – Emma Rothe (first), Lily Sabol (third), Francie Trafton (fifth), Lillian Eckberg (sixth)

Highlights: After finishing runner-up to Inter-Lakes in the Division IV championships last year, Hopkinton showed it’s more than ready to compete with the Lakers this year with this 20-point win. The Hawks finished with 389 points, followed by Inter-Lakes (369), Moultonborough (361), Derryfield (268) and Profile (177).

Coach’s quote: “A strong showing by the Hawks today at the Sandwich Fairgrounds, putting four skiers in the top six.” – Hopkinton’s Rob Rothe

Boys’ Nordic Skiing

Concord second

Key players: Concord – Cam Brochu (first overall in 10:48), Gavin Graham (second in 11:24), Lucas Thomas (seventh), Aaron Russell (13th)

Highlights: The 10-time defending Division I champion Crimson Tide finished second with 382 points, coming up two points shy of first-place Keene (384) in the first meet of the season. Souhegan was third with 361 points, followed by Manchester Central (345), Manchester West (164) and Manchester Memorial (92).

Coach’s quote: “We’ve got some rebuilding to do on our boys’ team. And Keene has a new coach this year who seems to have given that program a real shot in the arm.” – Concord’s Sam Evans-Brown

Hopkinton third

Key players: Hopkinton – Theodore Mollano (second), Michael Eggers (fifth), Ryan Hughes (12th), Parker Wuellenweber (18th)

Highlights: Hopkinton finished with 370 points, just behind second-place Moultonborough (373). Inter-Lakes took first in the five-team event with 382 points while Derryfield was fourth with 346 and Profile was fifth with 339.

Coach’s quote: “The boys’ team fought hard today, just out of second place by a few points. They are a relatively young team, but are consistently getting stronger.” – Hopkinton’s Rob Rothe


Concord first

Key players: Concord – Ethan Comeau (champion at 120 pounds), Jack Sargent (champ at 126), Nick Bunch (champ at 152), Isaac Gladey (champ at 170), GJ Gimaranzi (champ at 195), Noah Giffard (champ at 220), Tyler Simpson (runner-up at 160), Abbas Abdulrahman (runner-up at 182); Bow – Zack Anderson (runner-up at 126), Skylar Hattendorf (third at 120), Wyatt Reinhardt (fifth at 113), Alec Schultz (fifth at 132), Andrew Bliss (fifth at 145), Alex Boufford (fifth at 160), Jon Sutera (fifth at 195), Will Zachistal (fifth at 285); Kearsarge – Gabe Benedict (third at 138), Nolan Haley (fourth at 195), Evan Lombard (sixth at 113), Brady Lombard (sixth at 160); John Stark – Thomas Johnston (runner-up at 170)

Highlights: Concord took first place at Keene’s Dave Minickiello Holiday Invitational. In addition to the six champs and two runner-ups listed above, the Crimson Tide also got third-place results from Khan Amiri (145 pounds), Daniel Rosales (152) and Hunter Jeffers (285), and fourth-place results from Keith McFetridge (113), Evan Berube (138), Aidan Fox-Morrill (145), Kody Rashed (170) and Cam Thompson (285).

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