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Eagles pull away late, overpower Winnisquam


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Gilford’s Max Troiano pulls up for a shot in traffic during his team’s 51-35 victory over visiting Winnisquam on Dec. 18. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2012
GILFORD – With the momentum heading the other way, Josh Joyce did what he's done consistently for the Gilford High School boys' basketball team during the young season: make a big play.

The sophomore guard lined up a three-pointer midway through the third quarter and drained it to stop a 12-0 run on Dec. 18. The triple gave Gilford its lead back and the Golden Eagles wouldn't trail again en route to a 51-35 victory over visiting Winnisquam Regional High School in Division III action.

"I thought that was a big shot," admitted Gilford coach Chip Veazey. "It sent a message that we weren't going to roll over and we maintained our composure well the rest of the way."

The Eagles led 25-14 with 1:25 left in the second quarter and seemed in control just before intermission. But the Bears had other ideas, and they scored the last five points before the break including a layup with 4.4 seconds left by freshman Christian Serrano to cut the halftime deficit to 25-19.

That momentum carried over into the second half, as Serrano finished off a three-point play to start the third quarter and Zach Plourde dropped a three-ball after a John Montalto free throw to give Winnisquam its first lead since the first minute of the game at 26-25.

"I thought we closed the half out well and then we came out and played well again right away in the third quarter," explained Winnisquam coach Kevin Dame. "We played a little sluggish in the beginning of the game so we were kind of lucky to be down only six (points) at the half."

Veazey wasn't pleased with the way Gilford allowed the Bears to come right back out of the locker room.

"(Winnisquam) came out really well…they came out the way we wanted to come out," the coach explained. "They ran an out of bounds play that hurt us a couple of times."

But despite the 12-0 Winnisquam run, Joyce quieted the momentum with his big three-pointer with 5:38 to play. Jack Athanas added a jumper and Joyce followed with a layup to stretch the lead back to 32-26.

"We came out and did some nice things in the third quarter but we never could fully get into a rhythm," said Dame. "We've got 13 guys that can contribute so I have to do a better job of getting us into a rhythm. It's going to take some growing pains."

Winnisquam would get as close as 36-31 when Dakota Van Tassel (eight points) sank a free throw with 6:47 left in the fourth quarter. But Gilford closed the game out on an impressive 15-4 run, as five different players (Rich Edson, David Sykie, Cam Patridge, Sam Prescott and Joyce) all contributed points during the stretch for the 51-35 final.

"I thought we made it hard for (Winnisquam) to get good shots off with our defense," said Veazey. "To hold them to 35 points…I thought that was pretty good defense. Everyone contributed in one form or another as well."

Dame attributed the tough fourth quarter to his young team's over eagerness at getting right back in the thick of things.

"I think we were trying to close a six or eight point gap all in one play," the second-year coach explained. "We were trying to hit home runs with some steals and things like that when we had enough time to chip away at it."

It was all Gilford during the early-going, as the Eagles used an 8-0 run in the first quarter to take a 13-6 lead after the opening frame.

"Our very first possession, we had three guys going after a loose ball so that set the tone I thought right there," said Veazey.

The Eagle lead would grow to as big as 21-9 midway through the first quarter before the Bears settled in. Montalto hit a layup and Serrano followed with a three-pointer to cut into the lead.

"We finally started playing after the first quarter," said Dame of his team's slow start. "We started diving after some loose balls and mixing it up a little bit."

Joyce (14 points) and Prescott (13 points) led the way for Gilford, while Sykie scored all seven of his points in the second half.

Serrano paced Winnisquam with 11 points while Van Tassel added eight points in the post. Spencer Pevine chipped in with five points.

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