March 10, 2014BERLIN — Going by the first quarter, the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles were up by seven and setting their sights at SNHU, but the tough third-seeded Berlin Mountaineers kept chipping away at the visitors for a big 59-48 comeback. This marks Berlin's fifth straight trip to the final four.
"I thought we didn't finish when we had opportunities to," said Gilford coach Chip Veazey. "Second half we had some good looks at the basket. We had some kick-outs and short jumpers that we missed. I have to give [Berlin] credit they played scrappy and forced us a little out of our game."
Gilford opened up the game with a three-pointer from forward Coby Goodwin 1:16 in. Mountie Quinn Morrissette answered back with a hoop off a rebound and the race was on.
As Berlin frequently rotated players in and out it was clear that their game plan was to wear the Golden Eagles down. Gilford didn't put their first sub until Max Troiano came off the bench at the 2:43 mark of the first.
Staying the course worked for Gilford at the time being blocking the inside looks and nabbing a nest of transition baskets to lead 13-5. This forced the Mounties to call a time out at 1:13 to go to regroup. Coming out of it Trey Labbe off the Berlin bench landed a three, but Gilford would still lead 15-8 after one. Four points each were put in by Michael Madore and Nate Davis from team blue and Morrissette led big red with two hoops.
"Gilford is an athletic team that played with great energy and passion," said Berlin coach Don Picard. "They came out strong and jumped up on us right away. I was proud of how resilient our guys were and after giving up 15 first quarter points, we only gave up a total of 15 in the second and third quarters combined."
Berlin came back to battle in the second quarter 15-6. Eight seconds in Mountie Tommy Gallagher almost had a three, but was called for traveling. With the possession Gilford made a long pass down the court that was gunned down by Ryan Richard who then went almost the length of the court for a layup that he was fouled on and hit both. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the half.
Davis and Kaleb Orton were the lone Gilford shooters to hit a field goal each.
Starting at the 5:30 mark Berlin went on a nine-point tear for their first lead of the game, 21-19: Chris Lamphere (two-pointer), Brad Frenette (three-pointer), Labbe (two frees) and Richard (two-pointer). That final hoop by Richard was another full length drive down the court off a Labbe rebound. By 1:57 to go both sides were in one-and-one foul trouble. That let Troiano tie up the game with two out of four frees. In the final 13 seconds, however, Lamphere hit a second bucket from the center to put Berlin ahead 23-21 at halftime.
"Once again we got great bench production," said Picard. "Chris Lamphere is playing really well right now and was efficient shooting 5-8. He was solid with the ball and did a good job in the middle of Gilford's zone. Nick Wheeler and Dustin Moore both gave solid minutes, with Gallagher and Frenette both in foul trouble throughout the game. Trey Labbe came in and provided some much needed offense for us in the first quarter. Nick Fodor provided some much needed height and a presence inside to change shots."
The third canto remained tight with five lead changes with the last laugh going to the Mounties who picked up momentum for a 7-1 swing. In the last three minutes the ball was stolen from outside shooter Goodwin twice in a row, Gallagher hit a three, Labbe hit both frees and Lamphere hit the last hoop of the canto again to put Berlin ahead 37-30 after three.
Heading into the final canto Gilford had four players with three fouls, Troiano, Kyle Gaudet, Goodwin and Orton while Berlin had two: Frenette and Gallagher.
The fourth quarter kicked off with a quick driving hoop from Troiano as well as a free to give Labbe his third foul. Berlin answered with a Richard three-pointer up the middle and Frenette who cut to the hoop, 42-33 at 6:12.
It was at 5:42 that both teams were in 7-7 foul trouble again and Orton pushed back with two frees. The Berlin train just kept chugging and Lamphere banked back-to-back buckets, 48-35 at 2:35, while the Golden Eagles were starting to look tired with a few unforced turnovers.
At 1:38 to go Goodwin fouled out as did Troiano at 44.4 seconds left. In the final 1:20 the visitors in blue were forced to foul to slow down the clock. Berlin ended up going nine for 19 from the charity stripe and Gilford did get six points from Davis who hit a three as well as an old-fashioned three, but the gap was too wide to clear.
For the game Berlin forced 26 turnovers, made 15 steals (six by Richard) and held Gilford to 32 percent field goal shooting over the last three quarters.
"We didn't handle the ball like we needed to," said Veazey. "When we got by their initial pressure we didn't take it strong enough to the basket and that's what hurt us as well as settling for shots. We had a good year and I'm proud of our guys for what we've had to deal with in the last week keeping focus is a credit to our team."
Frenette 5-2-13, Gallagher 2-1-6, Morrissette 3-4-10, Richard 2-2-7, Wheeler 0-2-2, Labbe 1-2-5, Moore 0-2-2, Fodor 1-0-2, Lamphere 5-2-12: Totals 19-17-59
Troiano 3-4-11, Madore 4-0-8, Davis 5-3-14, Goodwin 1-0-3, Orton 5-2-12: Totals 18-9-48