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Knights knock off defending Class I champs



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KEVIN SMITHWOOD drives hard to the hoop against Portsmouth on Friday, Feb. 5. Kathy Sutherland. (click for larger version)
February 08, 2010
WOLFEBORO — In the early part of the season, the Kingswood boys' basketball team didn't play strong third quarters and was forced to make up for it in the fourth quarter of many of their games.

The third quarter slump came back to bite the Knights a bit last week, but the team bounced back nicely on Friday, Feb. 5, as they knocked off defending Class I champion Portsmouth by a 59-56 score.

"Last time they beat us by 18 and they really put a hurt on us," said Kingswood coach Dan Chick, noting that the Clippers had used a box and one defense on Kevin Smithwood to take the Knight center out of his comfort zone. "We knew that since Dylan (Lovering) had been hot for a couple of weeks, they'd concentrate on him, which they did.

"We knew we'd have to get more offensive out of the other guys," Chick continued.

And the rest of the team stepped up to the task to help out their senior leaders. All told, the Knights dished out 25 assists on the game, something they've been doing on a consistent basis, which has helped lead to the successful run they boys have had this season.

"That tells you a lot about the make-up of this team," Chick said. "Everybody just looks for everyone else, whoever has the best shot."

The Clippers were able to pull ahead of the Knights in the early going, using outside shooting to build up a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter, 32-22.

The Knights fought back, however, and were able to close out the half with a solid run and cut the gap to 34-28 at the halftime break.

"We had a hard third quarter at Souhegan and early in the year hard third quarters had hurt us," Chick said. "We talked about it and focused on it and wanted to make sure we came out with a strong third quarter."

The Knights did just that, outscoring the visitors 16-6 in the frame to take a 44-40 lead after three quarters.

The Knights made some defensive changes that keyed the run as well, focusing on the Portsmouth perimeter shooters that had keyed the Clippers' strong first half.

"The changes we made, the guys responded very well," Chick said. "Portsmouth relied on their threes and they didn't hit them. They kept battling, it was certainly a tough game, but we were able to hold them off."

It was a well-rounded effort for Chick's troops, as Lovering finished with 17 points, four assists and two steals. Tate Jozokos had 18 points, five assists and two steals, Kohl Meyers had 10 points, eight assists and two steals and Smithwood had seven points, but added a huge nine rebounds and five assists, as well as a steal.

Chick was quick to point out that it was a great team effort that sank the Clippers. Tim Campbell had a solid game on the boards and did a lot of the little things that don't always show up in the box score. Dave Velez, Dave Hersey Joey Irvine and Zack McKenzie all came off the bench to contribute quality minutes in the first half, with Hersey hitting a key three-pointer for the Knights.

"It was very well-rounded," Chick said. "They guys came off the bench and did a great job."

The Knights took a nine-point lead to the half at Souhegan on Tuesday, Feb. 2, but couldn't hold on and dropped a 66-63 decision to the Sabers.

Kingswood led 34-25 after 16 minutes, but the Sabers came back strong in the third quarter and closed the gap heading to the fourth quarter, where they were able to pull ahead for the win.

"We had a good first 16 minutes, but the next eight minutes they beat us 14-8," Chick said.

The Sabers outscored Kingswood 14-8 in the third quarter and 27-21 in the fourth quarter.

"We made some mistakes, but they were not a better team than we are," Chick noted. "It was a game that I felt we had, but it slipped away, though not from a lack of hustle. We battled every single second of that game.

"They worked hard, we worked hard and they ended up with the win," the veteran coach continued. "But on the other hand, we very easily could've come up with that win."

For the game, Lovering was huge, draining 29 points, including four three-pointers. He also had seven rebounds. Smithwood had 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Jozokos had eight points and nine assists. Meyers had six points and dished out seven assists, while Campbell had a solid night with nine rebounds.

"The guards are distributing the ball very well and we are finding the open man," Chick noted.

The Knights will be on the road on Friday, Feb. 12, at Bedford to take on the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. The boys also hit the road to Plymouth on Tuesday, Feb. 16, for a 6:30 p.m. contest with the Bobcats.

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