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Playoff update: Kingswood boys upset Kearsarge in opening round

Balanced attack leads Knights to 61-49 win

SENIORS (l to r) Jeff Runnals, Dylan Lovering, Kevin Smithwood and Brendan Stackhouse played in their final home game as Knights on Tuesday, March 2. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)

KOHL MEYERS drives to the hoop against Kearsarge on Tuesday night. The sophomore guard had 16 points to lead the Knights in their win in the first round of the Class I tournament. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
March 08, 2010
SUTTON — As far as seedings go, it was an upset, but with a 12-6 regular season record, the Kingswood boys' hoop team was the team with the better won-loss statistics going into the first round of the playoffs at Kearsarge Tuesday night, so in many respects, it wasn't an upset.

Either way, it was a win for Kingswood, which means the Knights will be moving on to the Class I quarterfinals on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Oyster River in Durham.

The Knights stormed out of the gate in the first period , taking a 16-7 lead before five points in the final two minutes pulled the Cougars within four at the end of one period, 16-12.

The two teams played a relatively even second quarter. The Cougars cut the lead to one point a minute into the frame, but the Knights were able to keep the hosts at bay and took a 28-23 lead to the halftime break.

A couple minutes into the second half, coach Dan Chick had his team switch from their man defense to a 1-3-1 zone defense and it took the Cougars out of their rhythm, allowing the Knight offense to open the gates and Kingswood scored the final nine points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Tate Jozokos, giving the visitors a 48-31 lead with eight minutes to go.

Kingswood pushed the lead to 52-31 on hoops from Dylan Lovering and Kohl Meyers to open the fourth quarter, but the Cougars didn't die, hitting a series of long three-pointers to keep their hopes alive. However, Kingswood got solid play down the stretch from senior captains Kevin Smithwood and Dylan Lovering, who combined to score the team's final seven points to close out the 61-49 victory.

Meyers led the way with 16 points, Lovering added 15, Smithwood had 12 and Jozokos chipped in with 11.

Kingswood will now take on third-seeded Oyster River on Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in Durham.

Regular season wrap

WOLFEBORO — The Heal Point System, installed as an experiment for Class I this year, left the Kingswood boys' basketball team in an unusual position as the season came to a close.

The Knights, who finished at 12-6, headed into the Class I tournament as the 11th seed, traveling to Sutton to take on sixth-seeded Kearsarge (after deadline Tuesday). The Cougars finished with one fewer win and one more loss than the Knights (11-7) and were one of four teams that finished above the Knights in the standing yet had fewer wins. Bow finished 9-9 and still earned the seventh seed and a home playoff game in the first round.

"I think it's going to be a good match-up," Kingswood coach Dan Chick said of the first round game against Kearsarge. "They have a new coach, but he's been in the system so I don't expect a lot of changes (from last year)."

Last season, the Knights went down to Sutton right after the Christmas break and got in a shootout with the Cougars, eventually winning 72-70 in a game that featured 25 three-pointers.

"I would assume it would not be that type of game so much, but there will be some of it," Chick noted. "I think it will be a very good game.

"I think we know what we want to do, we're going to prepare for them like we were preparing for last year's team," he continued.

The Knights actually held their playoff fate in their own hands on Thursday, March 4, during the final game of the regular season at Oyster River.

With a 14-3 record going in, the Bobcats were one of the top teams in Class I and a win for the Knights could've put them in the position to have a home game in the first round.

For almost three quarters, it looked like the Knights just might pull it off.

However, a basketball game is four quarters, and the Bobcats dominated the final 10 minutes to record an 87-62 win.

"They took care of us in the last 10 minutes of the game," Chick said, noting that it was a four-point game until late in the third quarter when guard Kohl Meyers came out of the game due to foul trouble.

"Both teams like to run and both teams were running very well," Chick said. "Taking Kohl out of the mix really hurt us at both ends of the floor. He gets things started on the defensive end because he's the first guy to meet the ball handler and at the other end, a lot of times he leads the fast break."

Kingswood took an early lead, with a 23-17 advantage after one quarter. The Bobcats took the lead at halftime, 37-35, and with two minutes to go in the third quarter, the Knights trailed by only four points.

However, the Bobcats took over and took a 59-48 lead after three before going on to the win.

"It was a tough game, but we got some positives out of it," Chick noted. "We hung in there with them longer than the first time, and if we happen to see them in the playoffs, we're going to approach them a little differently.

"They have a lot of weapons, no doubt about it, they do a lot of good things," he continued.

Tate Jozokos led the Knights with 15 points and also had six assists and four steals. Dylan Lovering had 14 points and Meyers hit three three-pointers for nine points. Kevin Smithwood chipped in with three assists.

The Knights played their final home game of the season on Tuesday, March 2, and grabbed a 74-58 win over Bishop Brady.

The team's four seniors earned starting nods and three of them contributed points in the opening minutes, as Lovering hit a three-pointer, Brendan Stackhouse hit a free throw and Smithwood got a rebound and hoop to put the Knights up 6-2 in the early going.

Brady closed the gap to 6-5, but hoops by Lovering and Jozokos (off a great hustle play by Stackhouse), put Kingswood up 10-5. Brady hit two from the line, but Jozokos hit a field goal and Meyers drained a three-pointer to make it 15-7. Meyers followed with a free throw for a 16-7 lead, but the Giants hit a field goal and two free throws to close within five.

However, Meyers picked up a steal and a hoop in the final minute of the quarter for an 18-11 Kingswood lead after one quarter.

A Smithwood hoop and a Lovering free throw got Kingswood started in the second quarter, but a three-pointer from the Giants kept them within striking distance. A three-point play from Lovering stretched the lead to 10 at 24-14. After a Giant hoop, Tim Campbell got a steal and hoop, Lovering hit a three-pointer and Campbell hit another bucket for a 31-16 lead.

Brady hit six points in a row to cut into the lead before Lovering sunk one from the line for a 32-22 lead.

The Giants didn't go away, however, as they went on a six-point run to close the gap to 32-28 with 1:22 on the clock in the half. After a Jozokos free throw, the Giants got a three-pointer to cut the lead to 33-31 with 45 seconds left. However, Dave Hersey drained a three-pointer with 0 seconds to go and Meyers converted off a Jozokos steal with 20 seconds to go for a 38-31 lead. The Giants added two free throws in the final seconds for a 38-33 halftime score.

The visitors opened the second half scoring with a free throw, but Lovering hit a field goal and a three-pointer to stretch the lead to nine at 43-34. A Brady three-pointer cut the gap back to six, but Meyers converted his own steal for a 45-37 lead. Another Brady three-pointer kept the visitors within striking distance and the answered a pair of Smithwood hoops with a pair of their own to keep it a five-point game at 49-44.

The Knights, however, went on an eight-point run to end the third quarter, as Smithwood hit a pair from the line and a field goal and Dave Velez and Meyers each hit buckets, giving Kingswood a 57-44 lead after three quarters.

Brady would not go quietly. The visitors opened the fourth with a pair of free throws and after a three-pointer from Meyers made it 60-46, the Giants went on a five-point run to close the gap to 60-51 with 5:20 to play.

Buckets from Jozokos and Smithwood stretched the lead back to 64-51, but a three-pointer pulled Brady within 10 with 3:24 to play.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Jozokos and Meyers helped seal the deal, upping the lead to 70-54. Smithwood added a hoop and two foul shots down the stretch to match two Brady hoops and the Knights had the 74-58 win.

"This was definitely one we needed," said Chick. "These guys (Brady) have played a lot of people tough."

The Knights were also coming off a tough 64-55 loss to St. Thomas a night earlier and needed a rebound game.

"We cut down on our turnovers and we had more fast breaks tonight than we did the previous two games," Chick continued.

Meyers, Lovering and Smithwood each had 18 points, while Jozokos added 10. Smithwood had 10 rebounds, Lovering had eight boards and Campbell added six to the rebound tally.

"Four players in double figures, that's excellent scoring," the veteran Knight coach pointed out.

Against the Saints, the Knights weren't hustling and let the hosts control the game.

"It was definitely a repeat of the Kennett game," Chick said. "We got outhustled. They beat us to all the 50-50 balls."

The Knights opened the playoffs at Kearsarge after deadline Tuesday. Check out our sports section's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfeboro-Falls-NH/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro/ for playoff updates and also see the paper's Web site at www.NewHampshireLakesandMountains.com for more information.

The second round of the Class I tournament is Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m. If the Knights pull off the first-round upset, they will either head to Oyster River (third seed) or host Hollis-Brookline (14th seed). The semifinals are Tuesday, March 16, at 6 p.m. at UNH.

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