High schools: Pittsfield boys’ basketball falls to Newmarket in rematch of last year’s D-IV title game

  • Pittsfield’s Tyler Prentice (left) goes behind the back with the ball as he is covered by Newmarket’s Alex Senesombath during Division IV tournament action Thursday night in Newmarket. Pittsfield lost, 49-30. MIKE WHALEY / Fosters.com

  • Pittsfield’s Jesse MacGlashing (right) hauls in a rebound away from Newmarket’s Owen Tower during Division IV quarterfinal tournament action Thursday night in Newmarket. The sixth-seeded Panthers fell to the third-seeded Mules, 49-30. MIKE WHALEY / Fosters.com

Monitor staff
Published: 3/1/2019 12:07:49 AM

The Panthers wanted to slow the game down to their tempo. They did that. They also wanted to limit Newmarket guard Simon Cote’s impact. The Panthers did that, too.

On a night where the No. 6 Pittsfield boys’ basketball team felt like it executed everything according to plan, it still wasn’t enough to advance and match last year’s storybook ending. The defending Division IV champion Panthers had their worst offensive output of the year and watched their season come to an end on the road in the quarterfinals against No. 3 Newmarket, 49-30.

“Even with the struggles on offense, our defensive effort still kept us in the game,” said Pittsfield coach Jay Darrah after the Panthers finished out the season at 14-6.

“We wanted it to be a slowed-paced game, run things at our pace and run what we wanted to run. And we kind of executed that really well over the first 24 minutes,” Darrah said. “But we couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes and they capitalized on all of ours.”

The contest, which was a rematch of last year’s championship game won by Pittsfield in a nail-biter, 43-40, didn’t start in the Panthers’ favor as Newmarket took a 9-6 lead after the opening quarter and held Pittsfield to 3-for-13 shooting from the field in a first half that ended with the Mules ahead, 23-15.

“They’re a tough defensive team. They’re tall. They’re long and they cause a lot of problems,” Darrah said of Newmarket. “But we thought we were in good shape at that point. We came out for the third, cut (the deficit) to five and had momentum going our way.”

But as was the story all game, every time Pittsfield inched closer, Newmarket pulled away.

After the Panthers trimmed the lead down to five, the Mules came right back down the court and hit a 3-pointer, made a steal on the ensuing inbound and converted a traditional three-point play to bump their advantage back up to 11.

“We just couldn’t get it over the top,” Darrah said. “Every time we made a run and made a comeback, they would go on a six-point run of their own.”

On most nights, the Panthers would have the offensive firepower to shrug off a slow start. After all, they erased several double-digit deficits over the last quarter of the regular season and were held in check during their first-round win over No. 11 Farmington before using a 14-2 fourth-quarter run to pull away.

Thursday was a different story.

Pittsfield didn’t make a single 3-pointer (0-for-10) and its leading scorer, junior guard Devin Bedell, finished with two points on a pair of free throws. Tyler Prentice (eight points), Jesse MacGlashing (three points, seven rebounds) and Dylan Bocash (eight points, 12 rebounds) carried the load offensively.

Those woes put more strain on Corey Gilleney and the Pittsfield defense. Gilleney, who finished with seven points, took on a challenge guarding Cote, the Newmarket star, and held the senior to nine points – an effort Darrah said “kept us in the match.”

That defensive effort still had Pittsfield within striking distance in the final quarter as it trailed by eight with around six minutes to play.

Needing a spark, the Panthers took some risks and Newmarket made them pay.

“They started to hit their outside shots,” Darrah said. “We started fouling, and they only hit four three throws, but they capitalized on all the chances we decided to take in the fourth quarter when we were behind.”

Will Chase led all Newmarket players with 11 points off the bench. Both Logan Wiley and Jared Woodman finished with eight points apiece as the Mules advance to take on No. 2 Littleton in the first of Monday’s semifinals at Plymouth State University.

“They’re a great team and obviously the reason we didn’t finish the shots we had is because of how well they defend and how long they are,” Darrah said. “But if a couple of those baskets fall early on, it’s a different game. We’re in a different mindset and they’re in a different mindset.”

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

Boys’ basketball

John Stark 54, Manchester West 49

Key players: Stark – Noah Gamache (13 points, 4 assists, 3 steals), Christian Barr (15 points, 9 rebounds), Kayden Easter (8 points, 10 rebounds), Aaron Bergeron (7 points)

Highlights: The Generals entered the final frame staring at a 12-point deficit, but a 23-6 run in the fourth quarter was decisive in the victory. Gamache had nine of his 13 points in the fourth, and the Generals will open the playoffs on Wednesday.

Records: Stark 8-10; West 3-15

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