High schools: Kearsarge deals Merrimack Valley first loss in D-II showdown

  • Merrimack Valley's Kyle Dube (15) drives to the basket during Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, Jan. 16, 2018. Kearsarge defeated Merrimack Valley, 71-60. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Kearsarge’s Tom Johnson (left) goes up for a shot as Merrimack Valley’s Kyle Dube (right) defends during Tuesday’s boys’ basketball game at MV. Johnson finished with 22 points to help Kearsarge to a 71-60 win. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley's Caleb LaClair (3) pushes down court during Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, Jan. 16, 2018. Kearsarge defeated Merrimack Valley, 71-60. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Kearsarge's Tayler Mattos (5) goes up for a shot during Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, Jan. 16, 2018. Kearsarge defeated Merrimack Valley, 71-60. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Kearsarge's Joe Storozuk (25) shoots the ball during Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, Jan. 16, 2018. Kearsarge defeated Merrimack Valley, 71-60. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley's Ryan Defina (1) goes up for a layup and scores despite a foul from Kearsarge's Tayler Mattos (5) during Tuesday's boys' basketball game at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook, Jan. 16, 2018. Kearsarge defeated Merrimack Valley, 71-60. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nate Camp said it felt like a “playoff atmosphere” on Tuesday night at Merrimack Valley High School.

It wasn’t hard to see why when his Kearsarge Cougars took the floor against the undefeated Pride for a midseason Division II boys’ basketball matchup that drew plenty of interest from local fans.

Back at full strength for the first time this calendar year, Kearsarge delivered on the big stage, receiving strong second-half performances from senior leaders Tom Johnson and Tayler Mattos on the way to handling the division’s last unbeaten team, 71-60.

“I want to give a lot of credit to Merrimack Valley, they’re a very good team and were 6-0 for a reason,” Camp said. “It was a game of runs in the first half. They hit a couple big shots or we would get some steals and make some plays, but I said to the guys at halftime, ‘We did not play well and we’re only down by two against a very good team.’ So we made some adjustments defensively and the third quarter has typically been very good with this group.”

It was again in this one.

After trading blows and swapping leads in a high-scoring back-and-forth first half, Kearsarge (4-4) found the run it was looking for in the third quarter.

The Cougars entered the frame trailing, 34-32, but left with a 13-point lead after swinging momentum with an 18-3 spurt over the final five minutes of the quarter.

Johnson scored 11 of his 22 points in the third alone, and along with Mattos (game-high 29 points) and Joe Storozuk (seven points), helped the Cougars gain an advantage they would not relinquish.

“We came out (for the second half) with a lot of fire and energy and it started with defense,” Johnson said. “Then we got some run outs and people were wide open. My teammates were finding me for wide open shots and so we made a couple of baskets and just kept at it.”

Kearsarge came in on a rare losing streak after playing its last four games without Mattos, Johnson and senior forward Jordan Bryk, who were all suspended 10 days for violating team rules.

The Cougars lost all four of those games and Camp said he expected a slow start as the group re-acclimated to the flow of things in their first game back.

“I knew they were going to be a little rusty,” he said. “I knew in that first quarter that I had to keep my cool with them because they needed to know that I had their backs and wasn’t going to jump all over them if they made a few mistakes in a very good Division II atmosphere.”

“Merrimack Valley had a lot of energy and it was tough playing at their place,” Johnson said. “They had a really good crowd, they played really hard and it did take us a little bit. We played a little sloppy, but once we got into it we went for it.”

The Pride (6-1) threw the first punches early on, using the trio of Ryan Defina (17 points), Kyle Dube (14 points) and Jake Hebert (16 points) to take a 22-18 lead after one and withstand seven lead changes in the half for a narrow two-point lead at the break.

But the second half – and third quarter especially – brought with it a Kearsarge run that the Pride couldn’t answer. MV was outscored, 25-10, in the frame and was unable to recover.

With the Pride still ahead, 41-39, Johnson drilled a 3-pointer, Storozuk did the same and Mattos carved out space for himself inside for the easy basket before another 3 from Johnson gave Kearsarge a 50-44 lead. With MV still struggling to score, the run continued as Mattos, Kyle Hernon (seven points) and Noah Tremblay all added points to close the quarter.

“I thought it was a solid high school basketball game for the first half,” MV coach Tim Mucher said. “It’s fun watching the kids compete, battle. They made runs, we made runs and it was a really good-looking first half.

“In the second half we just gotta make shots against their zone and we didn’t, so that’s what happens when you don’t put the ball in the basket.” Mucher said. “That was their first time back with the two studs, too, so I knew they would play with energy and effort and they wanted to get back to their winning ways.”

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


Bedford 57, Concord 53

Key players: Concord – Rylan Canabano (career-high 23 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds), Tyler Blodgett (9 points), Tyler Bruins (7 points, 5 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: The Crimson Tide boys played what may have been their best half of the season to start this game and took a 32-19 lead into halftime. Unfortunately for Concord, it couldn’t keep the lead safe as Bedford cut it to six entering the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs took over the lead about three minutes into the fourth and held off the Tide from there. Concord has lost its last three home games by a total of six points.

Coach’s quote: “We’ve got to figure out how to finish.” – Concord’s Dave Chase

Records: Bedford 3-2; Concord 2-4

Coe-Brown 62, Kingswood 48

Key players: Coe-Brown – Brendan Eaton (27 points, 16 rebounds), Luke McCusker (13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), Albert Lapiejko (8 points, 4 rebounds), Ben Watson (4 points, 6 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: Coe-Brown went to work scoring 16 points in the first quarter. Kingswood battled back with 22 points in the second, but the Bears managed to close the gap by halftime and owned the second half.

Records: Coe-Brown 5-1; Kingswood 1-5

Plymouth 51, John Stark 50

Key players: John Stark – Parker McQuarrie (19 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks), Christian Barr (9 points), Payton Marden (5 points, all in second half)

Highlights/key moments: The Generals were up by five points with 30 seconds in the clock, but Plymouth’s Dan Carey hit a pair of 3-point shots while Stark missed free throws (six in a row in the fourth quarter) and suffered another late loss. In all three of their losses this season the Generals have led in the fourth quarter.

Coach’s quote: “That’s who we are this year – no lead is safe with us.” – John Stark’s Mike Smith

Records: John Stark 2-3; Plymouth 4-3

Campbell 61, Belmont 56

Key players: Belmont – Aiden Rupp (18 points, 9 rebounds), Mikey Sprague (8 points, hustle), Matt Thurber (10 points), Griffin Embree (10 points), Matt Pluskis (9 points), Caleb Burke (rebounding)

Highlights/key moments: Campbell built its lead in the first half and, despite improving in the defensive end in the second half, Belmont couldn’t climb back in.

Coach’s quote: “I think we frustrated (Campbell) with our defense in the second half, but their pressure got to us early on and they built up a lead.” – Belmont’s Jim Cilley

Records: Campbell 5-1; Belmont 3-3

Gilford 94, Franklin 67

Key players:Gilford – David Hart (23 points); Franklin – Jayden Torres (36 points), Harrison Clark (12 points)

Highlights/key moments: The Golden Eagles won their fourth straight, a streath that has seen them outscore their opponents by a combined 89 points.

Coach’s quote: “Gilford owned the boards at both ends. My boys never quit and played them tough.” – Franklin’s Michael Donnell

Records: Gilford 5-2; Franklin 0-7

Conant 57, Hillsboro-Deering 28

Key players: H-D – Ben Ketterer (8 points), Zack Rowell (6 points)

Coach’s quote: “Conant is a really good team. We were out-manned, but our guys played hard.” – H-D’s Carl Doucet

Records: Conant 5-2; H-D 0-7

Inter-Lakes 49, Moultonborough 44

Key players: Inter-Lakes – Eli Swanson (28 points), Jayden Lara (10 points)

Highlights/key moments: Division III Inter-Lakes earned its second win over Moultonborough of D-IV this season. The Lakers’ next opponent is a hot Gilford team that has won its last four straight.

Records: Inter-Lakes 5-2; Moultonborough 5-4

Winnisquam 55, Sanborn 51

Key players: Winnisquam – Kyle Mann (28 points, 11 rebounds), Phil Nichols (17 points)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears took a 16-12 lead in the first quarter and slowly added to it throughout the game. Things got a little shaky in the fourth quarter as Winnisquam went 8-for-17 from the free throw line and Sanborn crept back within four points, but the Bears were able to hang on. Winnisquam snapped out of a five-game slide to earn its second win of the season. Both of their wins have been earned on the road.

Coach’s quote: “We’re a young squad and had one senior available tonight. To go out on the road and get this win is big for us.” – Winnisquam’s Kevin Dame

Records: Winnisquam 2-6; Sanborn 3-5

Pittsfield 81, Sunapee 39

Key players: Pittsfield – Cam Darrah (22 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists), Dylan Bocash (15 points), Casey Clark (14 points), Josh Whittier (12 points, 10 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: Pittsfield jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the first quarter and followed it up with a 25-6 run in the second to go into halftime leading, 45-9. Darrah led the surge on both ends of the court scoring 19 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. The second half saw Pittsfield’s non-starters be equally as effective outscoring Sunapee, 36-28, in the half.

Coach’s quote: “We came out with a lot of energy on the defensive end and it resulted in a high percentage of baskets in transition. Bocash and Darrah did a great job finishing early and often, and Whittier dominated the post and controlled the boards.” – Pittsfield’s Jay Darrah

Records: Pittsfield 7-1; Sunapee 5-2


Coe-Brown 52, Kingswood 44

Key players: Coe-Brown – Ahna McCusker (23 points, 16 rebounds), Val White (13 points, 7 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears enjoyed a 29-18 halftime lead before Kingswood cut it to two points at the end of the third quarter. Coe-Brown responded by outscoring the Knights, 17-11, in the final quarter.

Coach’s quote: “Obviously having Ahna back is a big boost to our team. Our girls worked extremely hard, but we still have lots of work to do.” – Coe-Brown’s Joe Vachon

Records: Coe-Brown 3-5; Kingswood 3-5

John Stark 60, Plymouth 33

Key players: Stark – Emily Patten (12 points, 4 steals), Autumn Nelson (10 points), Arianna Maxwell (9 points)

Highlights/key moments: The Generals went to work quickly, jumping out ahead early and controlling the tempo for the rest of the game. The 33 points allowed was a season-best for the Stark defense.

Coach’s quote: “We still have a number of things to improve on but we continue to get better each day.” – Stark’s Bruce Johnson

Records: Stark 3-3; Plymouth 0-8

Goffstown 49, Bishop Brady 45

Key players: Brady – Sarah Doherty (13 points), Lauren Roy (12 points), Ami Rivera (9 points, 8 rebounds)

Highlights/key moments: The Giants narrowly lost this even matchup and dropped to .500.

Coach’s quote: “Communication goes a long way and we have to get better at it on both ends.” – Brady’s Annie Alosa

Records: Goffstown 5-4; Bishop Brady 4-4

Pembroke 50, Kearsarge 42

Key players:Pembroke – Brooklyn Zanis (18 points) Olivia Langevin (10 points), Savannah Youngman (8 points, 10 rebounds); Kearsarge – Meg Roy (12 points), Jordan Busch (8 points)

Highlights/key moments: Pembroke marched to a 26-7 lead in the first quarter and kept the Cougars at bay from there. Kearsarge cut the lead to 18 at halftime but couldn’t get back into striking distance.

Coach’s quote: “Our first-quarter play displayed the work we have put in on creating offensive opportunities from our full-court defense. We look forward to bringing that same intensity into Friday’s game (against Timberlane).” – Pembroke’s Michaela Champlin

“Just not enough to climb back in. We need to find a way to come out and start the game faster.” – Kearsarge’s Keith Roberts

Records: Pembroke 4-4; Kearsarge 3-5

Belmont 63, Campbell 46

Key players: Belmont – Julianna Estremera (season-high 29 points), Elaina Hoey (15 points), Lizzie Fleming (defense), Molly Sottak (defense)

Highlights/key moments: The Raiders set a fast pace early, rushing out to a 24-5 lead in the first quarter. Seven of nine players on Belmont’s roster contributed scoring.

Coach’s quote: “We were making our shots. It was a great overall team win.” – Belmont’s Mark Dawalga

Records: Belmont 3-5; Campbell 2-6

Gilford 69, Franklin 40

Key players:Gilford – Brooke Beaudet (16 points), Lauren Dean (13 points), Shelby Cole (12 points), Hannah Perkins (9 points), Olivia Harris (8 points), Abby O’Connor (7 points); Franklin – Lauren Marsh (12 points), Hannah Hicks (12 points)

Highlights/key moments: Gilford led 22-10 after the first quarter and 34-20 at halftime

Records: Gilford 6-2; Franklin 2-8

Newfound 59, Mascoma 28

Key players: Newfound – Ashlee Dukette (21 points, 12 rebounds, 8 blocks), Savanna Bony (21 points, 6 rebounds), Jasmine Peterson (15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists)

Highlights/key moments: Newfound took a commanding 21-2 lead in the first quarter. The Bears built their lead to 34-6 at halftime.

Coach’s quote: “The girls came out strong running the floor and finishing on the offensive end. We still have some points to work on, but we are starting to understand our weaknesses and are attempting to fix them moving forward.” – Newfound’s Karri Peterson

Records: Newfound 9-1; Mascoma 3-5