Moultonboro boys take home Lakes Region tourney title



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The Moultonboro Academy boys basketball team poses for a team photo after winning the Lakes Region Holiday Basketball Tournament on Dec. 30. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 05, 2011
GILFORD – Despite being the lone Division IV school in the eight-team tournament, Moultonboro Academy didn't play like the small fish at the Lakes Region Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Using its height advantage and a tenacious defensive effort, the Panthers won three straight games to capture the tournament championship, beating Prospect Mountain, 44-35, in the finals on Dec. 30 at Gilford High School.

"The whole tournament played out really well," said tournament MVP Patrick Cotter, who had eight points in the finals and averaged 12.7 points per game in the tournament. "We proved we could play with almost anybody in the Lakes

Region. We've been working hard for this for the past couple of years and it really means a lot that we can run with anybody."

After Prospect Mountain led 15-13 after the first quarter in the finals, the Panthers took off in the second frame. Ryan Martel's three-pointer gave MA a 16-15 lead while Marcus Swedberg scored six points in the quarter. Drew Swedberg added a bucket and Travis Keich-Baier sank a pair of free throws as MA outscored Prospect 13-3 in the second to take a 26-18 halftime lead.

"Our whole focus was to get out and defend the three-point shot," said MA coach Matt Swedberg. "Prospect likes to take a lot of them and they're actually very good at it. We were very aware of that and tried to get out and take that away from them so they run into Marcus and Patrick inside. Defensively, I was very happy with what we did; offensively we still need work. But I'd rather have it that way."

When Prospect did try to score inside, the towering Marcus Swedberg and Cotter were too much to handle. The duo had several key blocks in the second quarter.

"It helps a lot having a 6-8 kid (Swedberg) and a 6-5 kid (Cotter) down low," said Cotter. "It just gives us an advantage being able to see the whole floor and be able to alter shots."

Prospect Mountain closed the gap to 39-34 late in the fourth quarter but Keich-Baier scored four straight points and Marcus Swedberg hit a free throw in the waning seconds to secure the victory and the tournament crown.

Despite playing three games in three days, coach Swedberg was happy with how his team came out each day.

"I don't think there was a drop off between the three days," he said. "I think everyone had times where they played really good basketball for us. Patrick had a nice tournament. He went hard to the basket and handled himself nicely out there.

"I think the biggest thing for us going forward is learning how to handle certain situations," he continued. "Time and score situations, pressure situations. I really think that once we get the whole team to understand those concepts, we have the ability to be very good."

Not content with just the tournament title, the Panthers hope the momentum from last week carries over into the rest of the season. MA started the year 5-0 heading into the Christmas break.

"It's been nice - four of our first five were on the road so we had some big tests on the road," said Swedberg. "We're definitely a step above where we were last year. We're still a long way off where we want to be but I really couldn't be more pleased with the way we're playing."

MA started its tournament title run with an opening run 43-12 win over Winnisquam on Dec. 28. The Panthers took a commanding 26-3 lead into halftime, holding Winnisquam scoreless for the entire second quarter.

"In terms of the overall type of game it was, it gave us a chance to work on some things and go over things as we went," said Swedberg. "We were able to work on some things during the flow of the game."

The semifinal round win over Newfound Regional saw the Panthers get out to a 19-8 first quarter lead and pull away as the night wore on for a 57-35 victory.

Cotter scored 18 points in the victory while Drew Swedberg tallied 14 points and Keich-Baier added 11.

"Every round in a tournament like this is different," said Swedberg. "This one was more up-tempo, more physical, but we adapted and played well when we had to."

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