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Crusaders win playoff battle in front of packed house


Fans turned away by fire marshals before playoff tilt



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Owen Stone hits a slightly contested three-pointer late in the third quarter. James Barrett. (click for larger version)
March 10, 2014
LITTLETON — The Littleton Crusaders boys' basketball team stamped its ticket to the NHIAA Division Four final four on Friday with much deserved win over long time rival Groveton Eagles.

In the first round of the playoffs the Crusaders looked shaky at times and left a little to be desired in the first half, but still earned the win over the Concord Christian Academy Kingsmen. With the Eagles in town, the Crusaders needed to have a strong showing from everyone on the floor.

With a capacity crowd in attendance the players definitely were feeling, not only the playoff game pressure but also the fans that turned the usually spacious Littleton High School gymnasium into what felt like the smallest gymnasium on the planet. With fans filling the bleachers and the walkways, as well as the stage area, the game was a true spectacle. In fact, when the Fire Marshals were dispatched to the event, they were tasked with sending fans home and turning them away at the door due to the amount of people that showed up for the event.

The first quarter of the game was a shootout. With the fans screaming, the players on both teams did not shy away from putting up points. The same went for the second quarter. Both the Crusaders and Eagles were playing a desperate, yet controlled brand of basketball with a final four birth on the line. At the end of the half, the Crusaders held a narrow edge, 33-25.

When the two teams took the court again in the third quarter, the Crusaders were in prime form. The Crusaders were running all over the Eagles on offense. On defense the Crusaders stepped up and held the Eagles to only seven points. When the quarter was over the Crusaders were ahead 46-32.

"The third quarter was huge for us," Littleton head coach Trevor Howard began. "We had talked in the half about building a cushion and the guys went out and did just that."

In the fourth quarter, Groveton began to fight back. The Crusaders bent a bit on defense but were never broken.

The Crusaders allowed some early points that got the Eagles some momentum.

However, as time drew on the Crusaders were able to get some energy from the vibrant crowd and hung onto the win, 58-45.

Leading the Crusaders on offense was Owen Stone with 17 points. Stone also had 10 steals to add to his line. His brother, Cody Stone also had a big game for the Crusaders on offense with 11 assists.

Howard went on to mention that; "Brett Hagen had a terrific game for us. He really stepped up and sparked the team on both sides of the court."

The second-ranked Crusaders, with the win, moved on the to the final four where they were taking on third ranked Epping. Epping has been rolling over every opponent that they have faced so far this season and are the second highest scoring team in Division Four. That game was scheduled for after deadline Monday, March 10, at Plymouth State University at 5:30 p.m. The finals are Saturday, March 15, at noon.

(7) Groveton: C. Gadwah 5-10-22, C. Guay 1-3-5, D. Curvey 2-1-5, K. Monahan 2-0-4, B. Atkinson 2-0-4, G. Charron 1-0-2, B. Joy 1-0-2, D. Rogers 0-1-1.

(2) Littleton: O. Stone 8-0-17, K. Kubkowski 4-1-9, D. Brammer 3-0-9, B. Hagen 4-0-8, L. Briggs 4-0-8, E. Schafer 2-1-5, C. Stone 1-0-2.

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