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Timber Wolves fall in playoff preview

'Toppers top Prospect boys in regular season finale

BEN COUCH drives to the hoop during action against Somersworth on Feb. 19. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 22, 2010
ALTON — For the Prospect Mountain boys' basketball team, the regular season finale was the perfect warm-up for the Class M tournament opener.

The Timber Wolves did battle with Somersworth on Friday, Feb. 19, in the season's final home game and were slated to head to Somersworth to take on the 'Toppers in the first round of the playoffs after deadline on Feb. 24.

"It was a good test run," said coach Rob Carpenter after his team dropped the regular season finale to the 'Toppers on Friday. "We wanted to go in on a winning streak, but we were able to get a first-hand look at what we'll be up against next week.

"We're going to give them all they can handle," he continued. "As long as we come to play."

The Timber Wolves gave the 'Toppers plenty to think about in the opening quarter of Friday's game in Alton, as the hosts came out and took a five-point lead after eight minutes.

After the visitors opened the scoring, Brian Jones hit a field goal and Zack Drouin drained a three-pointer to give Prospect a 5-2 lead. However, a three-point play from the Somersworth side evened the score. A rebound and hoop by Jones, a bucket by Greg Tinkham and a three-pointer from Jones pushed the Timber Wolf lead to 12-5 heading to the final minute of play.

The 'Toppers got a hoop in the final minute to cut the lead to 12-7 after eight minutes.

Patrick Cassidy took a nice Ben Couch feed to open scoring in the second quarter and a Jones free throw upped the lead to 15-7.

However, the 'Toppers scored the next four points to cut the lead to four, and after a Cassidy free throw, scored another three points to cut the lead to two midway through the quarter.

A Tinkham bucket pushed the lead back to four points, but a pair of free throws and a field goal made it 18-18 with 3:15 to play.

The 'Toppers took advantage of a Prospect turnover 10 seconsd later to make it 20-18 and then converted another turnover for a 22-18 lead. A three-pointer with 2:25 to play in the half stretched the Somersworth lead to 25-18.

Cassidy hit a pair of free throws as the clock went under two minutes to play in the half, but a field goal from the visitors matched that output. Cassidy hit two more free throws in the final minute to cut the lead to 27-22 at halftime.

Somersworth came out of the gate in the second half and scored the first five points of the quarter before Jones hit a hoop to make it 32-24. Somersworth followed with six points in a row to stretch the lead to 38-24.

However, the Timber Wolves came charging back. Cassidy put back a rebound to make it 38-26 and Couch did the same with 27 seconds on the clock to make it 38-28. Cassidy brought the lead to under 10 with another rebound and hoop off a Somersworth turnover to make it 38-30 after three quarters of play.

The Timber Wolves continued their momentum into the fourth quarter, as Couch hit a pair of free throws and Cassidy sunk a three-pointer to bring the Timber Wolves to within three at 38-35.

Couch then followed with another free throw to make it a two-point game two minutes into the fourth quarter.

A Somersworth bucket pushed the lead to four, but back-to-back hoops from Jones made it 40-40 with 3:53 to play in the game.

A free throw and a bucket by the 'Toppers gave them a 43-40 lead with 2:53 to play and two more free throws stretched the lead to 45-40 with 1:20 left on the clock.

Anthony Frangione sunk a free throw with 45 seconds remaining, but the visitors got a free throw and a bucket in the final seconds to close out the 48-41 victory.

"We were just careless the last two or three minutes of the first half," Carpenter noted. "They scored eight points off turnovers.

"The part of the game that really killed us was when we didn't take care of the basketball," he continued.

He noted that his team began putting some serious defensive pressure on the 'Toppers late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, which allowed them to tie the game.

"Unfortunately, we just couldn't make a shot in the fourth quarter," Carpenter noted. "We had good looks all night long, we just couldn't get them to fall."

The Timber Wolf mentor pointed out that he was not at all disappointed with the shots his team took, as he figured most of them were solid shots that just didn't fall.

For the game, Cassidy and Jones each had 14 points to lead the way for the Timber Wolves.

The Timber Wolves traveled to Epping on Thursday, Feb. 18, for the final road game of the regular season. The Blue Devils came out with a 7-4 lead out of the gate, but Prospect came back to score 13 points in the second quarter and take a 17-15 lead at the halftime break. The Timber Wolves then held the hosts to six points in each of the final two quarters and picked up the 38-27 victory.

Drouin led the way with 15 points, while Cassidy had eight and Jones scored seven.

"It was their senior night so we had kind of a slow start," Carpenter said. "Once we got warmed up, we took over the game."

The Timber Wolves finished the regular season at 10-8 and were in action in the first round of the Class M tournament at Somersworth after deadline Wednesday, Feb. 24. If the boys pulled off the upset, they play on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. either home against XXX (14th seed) or at XXX (third seed).

For results and photos from the first round of the playoffs, see the sports section's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfeboro-Falls-NH/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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