Serrano scores 28 but Bears drop opener to Berlin

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Winnisquam's Christian Serrano goes in for a bucket during the Bears' 85-70 loss to visiting Berlin in the Division III opener on Dec. 13. The sophomore point guard led all scorers with 28 points in the loss. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 16, 2013
TILTON For one quarter, everything the Winnisquam Regional High School boys' basketball team is looking to do this season came to fruition. But things unraveled after the opening eight minutes, with the Bears' main weakness coming back to bite them.

Visiting Berlin High School used a big 29-6 run between the second and third quarters to erase an early 12-point deficit and run away with an 85-70 victory in an up and down Division III opener for both teams on Dec. 13.

"I saw some very good things in certain areas but we absolutely got crushed on the boards," said Winnisquam head coach Kevin Dame, referring to the huge rebounding discrepancy between the two teams. "Berlin was big, strong and physical and I'd say going into the season that our weakness is we aren't big, strong and physical."

Sophomore point guard Christian Serrano led all scorers with 28 points, though the dynamic floor general battled foul trouble, picking up his fourth with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter. His team was down by 18 at that point however, as the Bears fell victim to a stout Berlin post attack.

The Mountaineers, the 2012 state champions and a Final Four team last winter, got 18 points from center Nick Fodor and 16 from forward Levi Arsenault, with both players topping 10 rebounds as well in a dominant effort in the paint.

"(Berlin is) a tough matchup for us," Dame admitted. "They have the guards who are quick and can hang around a little bit with our quick guards but then they have the guys down low who were able to have their way. We needed to do what we did early and that was score to offset their inside play."

The Bears looked like a much different team in the opening period, as Serrano scored nine points in the first and Winnisquam went on an 15-3 run to take its largest lead of the game at 25-13 with 1:18 remaining. It was 25-18 after one quarter, and the Bears looked destined to drop a huge point total on the Mountaineers.

It was all Berlin from there however, as the visitors scored the first seven points of the second to tie the game at 25-25. While Winnisquam responded with a quick 6-0 run thanks to hoops from Spencer Pevine and Serrano, as well as a pair of Will Singleton free throws, the Mountaineers would eventually take off on a 29-6 run that lasted 7:01 between the second and third quarters. When all was said and done, Berlin had taken a commanding 58-39 lead with 2:22 left in the third.

"(Berlin) made some better adjustments than I did," said Dame. "They started to make more buckets as the game went along and that set up their pressure defense. We weren't able to get into the tempo that made us successful in the first quarter."

A runner from Tim Harmon (six points) pulled the Bears within 58-44 late in the third, but the closest Winnisquam was able to close the gap was when Jason Robinson sank a pair of freebies to make it a 67-54 game with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter. Berlin answered with a 10-0 run to make it 77-54 before Serrano quelled the threat with a 3-ball.

Behind Serrano's 28 points, Pevine and Torrey Martinez were next in line with nine points apiece for the Bears. Mike Buxton tossed in six points, as did Harmon and Singleton. Luke Morrison (four points) and Robinson (two) rounded out the scorers.

While the opening night loss was tough, it was a good early test for a Winnisquam team that has hopes of being a contender this winter in Division III.

"There are positives and negatives to seeing a team like Berlin early," explained Dame. "I love the measuring stick games early but the drawback is we don't get a chance to make adjustments and get another crack at them again unless we happen to see them in the postseason."

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