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Kingswood hoop boys hit the break at 3-0

Smithwood leads the way as Knights best St. Thomas, Hollis-Brookline

KEVIN SMITHWOOD goes hard to the hoop for two of his 27 points against St. Thomas on Monday, Dec. 21. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 29, 2009
WOLFEBORO — The Kingswood boys' hoop team found success on the road for the first game of the season.

Last week, they brought that success to the home fans, as the Knights won a pair of contests to head into the holiday break at 3-0.

"I can't remember the last time Kingswood was 3-0 going into the break," veteran coach Dan Chick noted. "It's a nice feeling and I'm very proud of the guys.

"But, we want to make sure it keeps on rolling, and we've got lots of things to work on still," he added.

The Knights took the floor against Hollis-Brookline on Wednesday, Dec. 23, for the final regular season game of the 2009 calendar year.

The Knights held the lead for most of the game, but it was a monstrous third quarter from senior Kevin Smithwood that put the Knights over the top.

Smithwood scored 12 points in the third quarter and the Kingswood defense held the Cavaliers to just a pair of field goals and two foul shots, turning a 28-21 halftime lead into a 44-27 lead heading to the final quarter, where the hosts held on for the 51-39 win.

Tate Jozokos got the Knights on the board first, as the freshman guard drilled a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Cavalier bench to open the scoring. After the visitors pulled to within one, senior Dylan Lovering hit a three from the same spot as Jozokos did, upping the lead to 6-2. After the Cavaliers got two points back, Kohl Meyers turned a steal into a bucket and an 8-4 lead.

However, Hollis-Brookline stormed back with four free throws to tie the game at eight.

However, back-to-back hoops from Jozokos (from Meyers on a nice feed) and Smithwood (on a great pass from Lovering) as well as a pair of free throws from Smithwood helped open the lead up to 14-8.

After a Cavalier hoop, Smithwood and Lovering hit hoops to up the lead to 18-10, but the visitors netted the final points of the first quarter from beyond the arc, cutting the Kingswood lead to 18-13.

The Cavaliers came out and scored the first two hoops of the second half to bring the score within one, but a bucket by Meyers and a pair of free throws from Smithwood helped pull Kingswood forward. After another Hollis-Brookline hoop, Meyers got a steal and a bucket and Cole McMahon took a Lovering feed for his first hoop of the night. Smithwood finished off nice passes from Lovering and Jozokos to give Kingswood a 28-19 lead, which the visitors cut to 28-21 at the halftime buzzer.

The Knights had struggled in the third quarter of their first two games and when the Cavaliers cored the first hoop of the second half, there may have been concern that it would happen again.

However, Smithwood scored Kingswood's next four baskets (with one Cavalier hoop mixed in) and after a pair of free throws from Meyers, hit another hoop and a pair of free throws. The visitors got two from the line, but a bucket from McMahon finished off the third quarter scoring with Kingswood up 44-27.

"We tried to concentrate on the third quarter letdown we had in the last few games," Chick said. "We did have third quarter troubles against Coe-Brown and Monday, but today was much better.

The visitors came out of the gate in the fourth quarter and scored the first four points. A Jozokos bucket ended their streak, but the Cavaliers answered right back. Meyers hit for two, but again, Hollis-Brookline answered. The visitors also answered a Brendan Stackhouse free throw with a pair from the line, but Jozokos and Smithwood each hit one from the line to round out the scoring for Kingswood. The visitors hit two more free throws in the final seconds of play.

"Everybody got to play and everybody hustled, just like we wanted," Chick said. "We were able to try different combos of players and that was a luxury."

The veteran coach also praised Smithwood for stepping up his game, particularly his strong third quarter effort.

Smithwood finished with 23 points, while Meyers had 10 and Jozokos chipped in with eight.

The Knights opened the home season on Monday, Dec. 21, with a game against St. Thomas and both teams had trouble finding the bottom of the net in the first few minutes.

The Saints netted the game's first points a minute and a half into the game and Kingswood answered with a free throw from Smithwood before Meyers buried the team's first field goal off a Smithwood steal.

Smithwood then went baseline for two points and completed the three-point play at the charity stripe. Tim Campbell then finished off his own steal with a bucket and Kingswood was up 8-2.

The Saints finally got their second hoop of the game with just under three and a half minutes remaining, sinking a three-pointer to cut the lead to 8-5. However, a bucket and a free throw from Lovering, a hoop by Meyers off a Lovering steal and a bucket by Jozokos on a great fake, staked the Knights to a 15-7 lead.

The visitors hit a three and a field goal to cut the lead to 15-12 after one quarter of play.

Smithwood hit four free throws in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but the Saints answered those points. Jozokos then drained a three-pointer and Smithwood finished off a Jeff Runnals steal to stretch the lead to 24-16.

The Saints got a free throw, but Zack McKenzie sunk a three to stretch the lead to 10 and Meyers made it a 12-point game after a great Campbell defensive rebound. The visitors rallied back with six points in a row to cut the lead in half, but Campbell converted a three-point play and Stackhouse hit one from the line to stretch the lead back to 10. A shot at the buzzer pulled the Saints to within 33-25 at the break.

Out of the locker rooms, the Saints hit the first two shots to cut the lead to 33-29. Smithwood hit two hoops in a row to answer, but the Saints roared back with three hoops in a row to bring the score to 37-35 midway through the quarter.

The Knights managed only free throws from Smithwood and Meyers the rest of the way and the Saints pulled to within two again at 39-37 with 40 seconds to go in the quarter, setting up a fourth quarter showdown.

Campbell hit the first hoop of the fourth quarter and the Saints answered. After a Smithwood foul shot, St. Thomas tied the game on a three-pointer with 5:35 to play. Smithwood hit a hoop on a nice pass from Meyers, but the Saints answered. The senior forward then hit a pair of free throws to put Kingswood back up 46-44.

However, the visitors hit two hoops in a row, taking a 48-46 lead with 3:40 to play and upping that lead to three points with a free throw with 2:51 to play.

Smithwood hit a pair from the line to bring Kingswood back to within one, but two more St. Thomas hoops pushed the lead to five points with two minutes remaining.

McKenzie sunk a field goal with 1:45 to play to cut the lead to three. Campbell pulled in a big defensive rebound at the other end of the court Smithwood followed with an offensive rebound and hoop to make it 53-52 with 1:15 to play.

Smithwood then hauled in a big defensive rebound and the Knights had a chance to pull ahead. The first shot missed, but Smithwood pulled in the rebound and put it back to give the Knights a 54-53 lead with 38 seconds left. He then calmly drained a free throw to complete the three-point play, making it 55-53.

Lovering came down with a big defensive rebound, but the Knights turned the ball over with 8.7 seconds on the clock, giving the Saints one more chance.

However, Campbell came up with a steal and the Knights had the 55-53 win.

"I thought we played very well at times, at other times we were very unorganized," said Chick. "That's the stuff we have to work on.

"But we'll certainly take the win," he added.

Smithwood had 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Meyers and Campbell each had seven points. Lovering had 12 rebounds and Campbell had seven.

Kingswood was in action after deadline at the Gilford Holiday Tournament and will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 5, for a 6:30 p.m. contest with Merrimack Valley.

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