Eric Vose drives to the hoop during action Jan. 24 against Inter-Lakes. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 28, 2013BRISTOL — Before his team's game with Inter-Lakes on Thursday, Jan. 24, Newfound boys' basketball coach Alan Merrifield watched his team warm up and made his wish for the night, a Newfound win.
"They really deserve it," the Bear coach said of his team, a squad that entered the game looking for its first win of the season.
By the time the night was over, the Bears had delivered, as they hit their free throws down the stretch in overtime and overcame a couple of Laker rallies to take a 55-48 victory.
"They finished a game," Merrifield said. "They have been working hard all season for this. I am so happy for them."
Merrifield hoped that the winning would continue, now that the team has a bit more confidence.
"It's contagious," he said. "We still have some games we can win, now that they have that feeling."
Merrifield couldn't have asked for a better start, as his team led by 10 points after one quarter of play.
Eric Vose got the scoring started with a three-pointer and after a Laker hoop, Remmi Ellis converted at the other end to push the lead back to three. Ellis then finished off a Jesse Mitchell steal for a 7-2 lead.
A three-point play got the visitors to within two, but Noah Merrill took control from there, putting in the next four baskets, the fourth on a great feed from Vose, and Newfound led 15-5. After a Merrill block on the defensive side, the Lakers got a hoop, but Ellis hit the final bucket of the quarter and the Bears led 17-7 after eight minutes.
However, the Lakers came out and hit the first three hoops of the second quarter, cutting the lead to four. Mitchell got the first hoop of the quarter for the Bears with 2:05 to play in the half, but the Lakers answered right back. After Vose hit two free throws with 27 seconds to go, the Lakers finished the first half scoring with a bucket in the final seconds, cutting the lead to 21-17 at the break.
One minute into the third quarter, the Lakers tied the game at 21, but hoops from Mitchell and Vose put the Bears back on top again. The Lakers came back and tied the game again at 25, but Vose hit a hoop and Ellis converted a three-pointer to push the lead to five and a Mitchell hoop made it a seven-point advantage. The Lakers got the final bucket of the third quarter, but Newfound led 32-27 heading to the fourth.
A three out of the gate got the Lakers within two, but Ellis hit a hoop to put the lead back to four. Despite back-to-back steals from Dahlton Fairbank and Ellis, the Lakers got the next three points, cutting the lead to 34-33 with just under five minutes to play.
Hoops from Fairbank and Vose upped the lead to five, but the Lakers wouldn't leave. A hoop and a free throw cut the lead to 38-36 with 2:18 to go before Merrill hit a bucket and Ellis hit a free throw, upping Newfound's lead to 41-36 with 1:41 to go.
The Lakers hit a free throw to pull within four, but Ellis canned two from the line for a 43-37 lead with 1:27 to go. Inter-Lakes got a bucket with 1:10 to go and after the Bears missed from the line, a free throw got the visitors to within three with 57 seconds to play.
A three-pointer with 48 seconds to go tied the game at 43 and neither team was able to convert on its chances in the final seconds and the game headed to overtime.
The visitors scored the first three points of the extra frame, giving them their first lead of the game, but a hoop from Ellis and a steal and bucket from Mitchell put the Bears back on top. The Lakers answered with a hoop to retake the lead, but a big Ben Prive defensive rebound led to free throws at the other end and Fairbank sank both for a 49-48 lead with 1:19 to go. Ellis then came up with a steal and Vose scored for a three-point lead with 45 seconds to go.
After the Bears missed from the line again, Prive came up with another big defensive rebound and Mitchell hit four free throws in the final 24 seconds to seal the win for the Bears.
"It is well-deserved for the players and the fans," Merrifield said. "There's great things still to come and they understand that."
Merrifield praised Mitchell for coming up big when it counted, especially after the senior missed from the line earlier.
"I told him, you're going to get another chance," Merrifield said. "And that time came along and he stepped up and made the free throws."
Merrifield also praised the hard work of Merrill, who got them the early lead with the big first quarter.
"They (Lakers) did a nice job coming back, but we didn't lose our composure," Merrifield stated.
Ellis finished with 16 points, while Vose added 13, Mitchell put in 12 and Merrill netted 10.
Next up, the Bears will be hosting Kearsarge on Friday, Feb. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and will be at Inter-Lakes for a 6:30 p.m. game on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126