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Eagle boys capture Farmington tourney

Kennett basketball team holds Pittsfield to two fourth-quarter points in finals to seal victory

THE KENNETT BOYS’ HOOP TEAM poses with the trophy after winning the Mike Lee Holiday Basketball Bash in Farmington on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
January 04, 2010
FARMINGTON — It was sort of fitting that the Kennett boys' hoop team took home the trophy from Farmington's holiday tournament last week.

The tournament, for the first time this year, was named after longtime Farmington principal, athletic director and coach, Mike Lee. As it just so happens, Lee let it be known that one of his first basketball coaches was Kennett legend Sut Marshall.

Therefore, the inaugural Mike Lee Basketball Bash trophy seemed to find a proper home when the Eagles knocked off Pittsfield with a 43-37 win in the tournament finals.

As reported in last week's paper, the Eagles won the first two games of the tournament, besting Concord Christian and Sanborn on Dec. 26 and 27 respectively.

The Eagles returned to Farmington for a meeting with Portsmouth Christian Academy on Monday, Dec. 28, and walked off the court with an easy 68-23 win.

The Eagles had it in cruise control much of the way, leading by a score of 51-14 at the halftime break. Coach Steve Coté was able to rest his starters for a good chunk of the game and played the subs the entire second half.

"It was a good game to get everyone some playing time and to rest some of the starters," the Eagle coach noted.

The Eagles returned the following night to do battle with the host Tigers and things were a bit closer, as the Eagles pulled out a 47-40 win despite a strong fourth quarter from the hosts.

The Eagles led 14-10 after one quarter and held a 24-17 lead at the halftime break. Kennett doubled up the Tigers in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to their five, to take a 34-22 lead.

The Tigers closed the gap in the fourth quarter but couldn't close it quite enough and the Eagles had earned the trip to the tournament finals with the 47-40 victory.

Brandon Frost had 15 points to lead the Eagles, while Matt Ashnault and Tanner Baillargeon each added seven.

Coté knew that his team had a tough task ahead in the finals on Wednesday, Dec. 30, facing off with Class S Pittsfield, who had easily defeated all opponents on their way to the finals.

The two teams traded baskets in the early going, as Dave Ingram got Kennett on the board first, only to see the Panthers answer with a field goal and a three-pointer for a 5-2 lead. Another Ingram hoop, following an offensive rebound, cut the lead to just one, but the Panthers hit a bucket to push it to 7-4.

An Ashnault three-pointer tied the game at seven, but the Panthers scored the next five points to take a 12-7 lead.

A hoop by Ashnault cut the lead to three, but Pittsfield scored the next four points to up the lead to 16-9.

An Ingram hoop and a three-pointer from Ashnault sliced the lead to just two points and a Baillargeon steal and bucket tied the game at 16 in the final minute of the quarter.

The Panthers hit a three-pointer to take a 19-16 lead after eight minutes of hoops.

Pittsfield upped the lead to five to open the second quarter, but a three-pointer from Frost closed the gap to just two. After a pair of Panther shots from the charity stripe, Frost hit another hoop and Ingram hit a foul shot to make it a one-point game at 23-22.

The Panthers got a big three-pointer to up the lead to 26-22, but Frost kept it close with another hoop. Pittsfield scored the half's final hoop and took a 28-24 lead to halftime.

The two teams were fairly evenly matched in the third quarter, as the Panthers outscored the Eagles by a 7-6 margin. Ingram, Cam Eldon and Ashnault hit field goals for the Eagles to keep them in the game, and in the fourth quarter, the Kennett boys came to life on both ends of the court.

The Eagles didn't allow a single Pittsfield point until the final minute of the fourth quarter and successfully ran down the clock after getting the lead.

Frost opened the frame with a hoop and Baillargeon followed with his own bucket to put Kennett within one point. After a Frost block on the defensive end, Ashnault hit a pair of free throws and with three minutes to play in the game, the Eagles had their first lead since the opening seconds, 36-35.

The Eagles were able to kill time off the clock with solid passing and with 45 seconds left, Baillargeon got a rebound and a hoop for a 38-35 lead.

After an Eldon steal, Baillargeon hit a free throw, then another, then one more to put the lead at 41-35.

Pittsfield tried to close the gap quickly, but Ingram made a nice defensive rebound and Ashnault hit a pair from the charity stripe to ice the cake. The Panthers did score the game's final points to make it 43-37.

"We held a very quality team to 37 points, and two in the fourth quarter," said Coté. "That's going to be our game this year. "We've got to have the ball at the end with the lead.

"There was some adversity tonight with their size, which we were not used to, but Liam (Duggan) and Dave (Ingram) did a good job in the paint," Coté continued. "And for once, at the end, we hit our foul shots."

The Eagle coach noted he was incredibly proud of his team, which didn't even know it had a holiday tournament berth until less than a week before the first game.

"They're beginning to see how important 32 minutes of defense is to our success," Coté said.

In the game, Ashnault led the way with 14 points, while Baillargeon, Ingram and Frost each added nine points.

Ashnault and Frost were also both named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts.

The Eagles will hit the road to Merrimack Valley on Friday, Jan. 8, for a 6:30 p.m. contest. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the boys will welcome Berlin for a 6:30 p.m. game.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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